Saturday, July 4, 2015

52 Ancestors: Halfway

"Week 26 (June 25-July 1) – Halfway: This week marks the halfway point in the year — and the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge! What ancestor do you have that you feel like you’ve only researched halfway? What ancestor do you feel like takes up half of your research efforts?" (No Story Too Small)

Sometimes I've felt like I only know my paternal grandmother's ancestors halfway compared to my other ancestors. I easily identified with my Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh and when I learned of my Ennis lines, I felt a connection with my Dutch, French, and other lines. But it took some time to warm up to my Germans who settled in Russia, for a number of reasons. But that has changed a little as I've researched them and since I visited Germany.

Still, my Germans can be tough to research. When I was a child, the Soviet Union still existed and it was commonly believed that the records for the Volga Germans had been destroyed, that whatever information had been passed down to us was all that we would ever had.

Volga German pioneer family statue, Victoria, Kansas, USA
Photo by Kevyn Jacobs, Wikipedia

That's a little discouraging when your great-grandfather says the following (as mine did):
"[Regarding his great-grandfather:] DO YOU KNOW WHAT HIS NAME WAS?
No, I don't know. We don't have much talk about it. So, I don't know what the heck to tell you."

And then, in the late 90s, some years after the fall of the Soviet Union, records started coming forth from the archives. Censuses used to keep track of the settlers and first settlers' lists made their appearance. Great strides have been made in tracing our family. Still, records are more sparse than with, say, my colonial New England and New Netherland ancestors and there's quite a bit of uncertainty.

This is true of my great-grandmother Rose Catherine (Knoll) Mahler's ancestors but it's even more true about my great-grandfather Jacob John Mahler's ancestors. So, for this challenge, I've chosen his parents, Peter and Margaretha (Mueller) Mehler.

Peter and Margaretha and one of their daughters

Peter Mehler was born about 1857 in Leichtling, Saratov, Russia. According to "The History of Leichtling," publish on my father's site about Leichtling, "The town of Leightling was founded in the years 1767 by 143 German immigrants. The town was also known as Ilavlya or Rasowka. Leichtling is situated on the hilly side of the Volga, on the left side of the Ilavlya River. The colony was in the province of Saratov, in the district of the city of Kamyshin. It is 131 versts (86 miles) from Saratov, 54 versts (35.8 miles) from Kamyshin, 14 versts (9.3 miles) from Vodyanoi Buyerak (Stephan), 9 versts (6 miles) from Ust-Gryaznukkha (Gobel),   5 versts (3.3 miles) from Panovka (Hildmann), 3 versts (2 miles) from Karaulny Buyerak (Kohler), 17 versts (11.2 miles) from the Volga, and 25 versts 16.7 miles) from the boat landing. A verst is a unit of measurement of about 3500 feet or .6629 miles."

Detail of a map, showing Leichtling

It goes on to say that, "In 1910, the colony had 185 farmyards with 1,836 people. All were Catholics. 295 males and 275 females could read and write. 37 families lived out of town. In 1910, there was no church in the colony. The church services were held in the school. (A new church was built in 1919.) There were two schools. One was a community school, and the other was a national school. The colony had 15 shoemakers, 4 weavers, 2 vatmakers, 2 wheelwrights, 2 carpenters, 1 tailor, and 2 musicians. The town had a small store, a tobacco shop, an oil mill, and a flour mill.

A map of the Volga German colonies (Leichtling is on the left side of the map, to the right of the Ilawla River)
Map by Chipppy, Wikimedia Commons

The community land use divided an area of 5,193 desyatinas. 5,117 desyatinas were used for farm land, 80 desyatinas were used for vegetable gardens, 11 desyatinas were used for the threshing floor, 50 desyatinas was used for hay lands, 154 desyatinas was used for forest, and the rest was used for animal grazing. One half of the land was black earth or soil, and the other half was clay loam and gravel. The land was hilly and divided by two valleys. In the fields were two drinking places or dams for the animals. The big road from Saratov to Astrakan went through the colony. The residents still sold their grain in Kamyshin. The residents of Leichtling paid 4,661 rubles in taxes." (Earlier, it stated that 10 desyatinas was about 27 acres.)

The ruins of Leichtling
Photo from

According to Great-Grandpa, Peter was the son of Nicholas and Margaret Meler. A Nikolaus Meler is found in Leichtling census records and through these censuses, we can trace Nikolaus' paternal line: parents Georg and Elisabeta (Teil) Meler, grandparents Friedrich and Agnesia (Treghtsen) Meler, and great-grandparents Franz and Margareta (Ewald) Meler. From there, I've been able to trace Franz and Margareta into Germany itself (see this post for details). I haven't been able to find any Treghtsens but I've found possibilities for the Teil family.

As for Margaretha, Great-Grandpa called her Margaret Miller. However, she appears on church records as Margareta Mueller, so he probably anglicized her name after years in America. There were several Mueller families, including Franz Meler, who early on in the records, appears as a Mueller. But I rule any of the families out or exclude the idea of her coming from another village. Of all my great-great-grandparents, Margaretha is the only one whose parents are unknown. This makes her my most recent brickwall ancestor.

The time in which they lived was a time of great change for the Volga Germans. The website Norka, A German Colony in Russia explains, "In 1871, many of the privileges originally provided to the Volga Germans when they first settled in Russia where withdrawn. The decline of the Russian German community started with the reforms of Alexander II. In 1871, he repealed the open door immigration policy of his ancestors, effectively ending any new German immigration into the Empire...The Russian nationalism that took root under Alexander III served as a justification for eliminating in 1871 the bulk of the tax privileges enjoyed by Russian Germans, and after 1874 they were subjected to military service...The resulting disaffection motivated many Russian Germans, especially members of traditionally dissenting churches, to emigrate to the United States and Canada, while many Catholics chose Brazil and Argentina."

While settlers from colonies like Herzog and Graf, my great-grandmother's family's colonies followed this pattern, Leichtling residents don't seem to have done the same. The History of Leichtling states, "In 1910, the emigration to foreign countries was limited to two families who moved to the Caucasus in 1861, 12 families who moved to Samara in 1884, and 6 families who moved to South America in 1886." The Norka site states, "Many Germans remained in Russia, particularly those who had done well, as Russia began to industrialise in the late 19th century."

While the Mehlers seem to have been involved in agriculture still, they owned land and had the use of farm machinery, as seen in Great-Grandpa's interview:
Oh, he had, I don't know how many. He had a lot of land. Oh ya, he gave my father a section of land, five-hundred and some acres. That's what we got and we got a pair of oxen and four head of horses, cows, sheep, hogs, chicken, anything and that's what I got my father from his dad, that's what he got from his dad.
My father, he was an inspector. He was a man, find out what the world does. Now here, they had a section of land or more and you know we bought machinery and out there the neighbors, I, and the machine. On a machine, we harvest, we scythe it, we plant our seed, we farm a farm. And I used my machine, whatever it was and the neighbors used it but they had four or five men and they helped me."

But eventually, the Mehlers too felt the neccessity of leaving. Peter and Margaretha sent son John to America. Later, Jacob arrived in Baltimore, Maryland 14 July 1913 aboard a steamship (S.S. Koln) from Bremen, Germany. A daughter, Magdalina (Mehler) Mildenberger, also immigrated. But the parents and a sister Barbra (called "die Younge, the little one" by Jacob) were still living in Leichtling when the Communist Revolution took place and Russia became the Soviet Union.

Jacob Mahler, 1913

The Norka website describes the situation, "The Russian Bolshevik Revolution occured in October 1917 abolishing private ownership in land and property and forever changing the country and life of the colonists in Norka. Many Volga Germans were consider kulaks - a category of relatively affluent and well-endowed farmers. According to Marxism-Leninism, the kulaks were a class enemy of the poorer peasants. Many farmers and communists were killed, fields were burned, and many privately owned operations were destroyed. This often caused pronounced hunger and created large problems in agriculture and the economy of the new Soviet Union."

Alexander Schmidtlein elaborated, "For Russia, the war followed a disastrous course with Germany winning one battle after another. The search began for a scapegoat. Wherever one went, on trains or in crowded streets, the question could be heard: "Who is responsible for this disaster." The government circulated reports that it was the Germans living in Russia who were responsible. "We have too many Germans among us. They betray us! And the Tsarina is surely one of them."...With no weapons the Volga Germans colonists could do little to protect themselves.
During this period of anarchy, the economy broke down altogether. Transportation was no longer functioning. Sugar ran out and there was no more lamp oil to light homes. Prices spiraled upward with wheat prices increasing tenfold in only a few months. The Bolsheviks took advantage of these circumstances, promising farmers sugar and oil if they would organize into soviets. But the soviets must represent the poor and this largely meant those who did not work. Respectable working farmers and craftsman were to be left out even though they were far from rich. Those who should get the power would of course be answerable to the Bolsheviks whether it was popular with the other villagers or not. Anyone speaking out against the soviet agitators risked being branded to the district soviet as a counter-revolutionary and faced being hauled before the Revolutionary tribunal. We all knew very well what that meant."

The Mahler children in America attempted to get the rest of the family out. They sent them money so they could join them in America. Peter and Margaretha and the rest of the family only made it as far as the border, however, when the money was taken from them. They were forced to return to Leichtling.

"Bolsheviks" by Ilya Repin, 1918

Things quickly broke down in Leichtling. One Leichtling resident, Michael Lang wrote, "...rumors or communistic activities stirred up rebellion among the farmers and civilians. Many were killed and the rest were forced to yield to the communistic demands. If not they would lose all their property and perhaps also be shot. A little later they came to our village. The villagers were organized. Since our village was the county seat the communist had their head quarters there. Five villages belonged to this section. From here they went to the other villages and demanded a certain tax from the farmers. If the farmer said he was unable to pay so much he was struck and kicked or imprisoned. Our parish secretary was the predecessor of the communists. When they wished to eat they would go to a farmer and demand food for so many men, but they paid nothing. The dissatisfaction was increasing between the farmers and the commies. The most of the solders who had fought in the war sided with the farmers. When the communists saw that, they grew furious and listed 60 men as having conspired against the government. Conspirators were shot. Such was communist law. When the farmers and the soldiers who had been in war heard this they organized 7 or 8 villages to fight the communists because they said they would shoot God out of the church. The communists began to draft the younger boys about July 1918. As these didn't want to go they were imprisoned. This was the firebrand for the insurrection. They had said no mobilizing. Now the 8 villages formed a compact that at a designated time every farmer and soldier would come to Leichtling where the Communists had their head quarters. This happened. Armed with guns, spades, and pitchforks they entered our village...

At the same time the communists had placed a guard around our village and as the other villagers drew near our place the guard fired a few shots and then disappeared. Now the crowds entered the village and drew near the courthouse. When they arrived there the communist leader appeared and shot a man. He was shot immediately. It was terrible. The soldiers and men of our village joined the others and they were forced to tell where the communist lived and these were either shot or killed. Now it was day and if the communist was seen the church bells would ring so that the people would congregate and the commie killed. This butchery lasted 3 days."

Battle map of the fighting between the Red & White forces near Kamyshin (July 1919)
From Kamyshinskaia operatsiia desiatoi Krasnoi Armii. Iiul’ 1919 goda. S 3 skhemami na otdel’nykh listakh. Kliuev, L:1928.

According to Verschollene Heimat an der Wolga by Edmund Imherr, "Uprisings in the Volga region were not unheard of during the Russian Civil War...However, none were comparable in scale or brutality to what happened in Köhler and Leichtling where on the first day alone 96 Bolsheviks and their sympathizers lost their lives. And that was only the beginning as many more deaths followed." The History of Leichtling states, "In 1912 the population was 2,535. By 1926 then population had declined by 1,330."

Peter was shot to death during this period on the steps of the Catholic church in Leichtling, Saratov, Russia by the Bolsheviks.

Peter Mehler

The 1920s in the Volga region saw famine. The Norka website explains, "The Volga Germans experienced periodic famines caused by both natural and man-made causes. The famine in the early 1920s stemmed from both causes, but was made much worse by the actions of the communist regime." A second major famine took place in the 1930s.

The Norka website continues, "In 1928, Stalin launched his first five-year plan, which was an ambitious attempt to boost industrialization in the Soviet Union. The plan was to double steel output and triple both pig iron and tractor production within five years. The investment for industrialization was to come from the agricultural sector through collective farms. The aim was to create modern 'socialist agro-towns' which would produce massively increased yields. The collectivization campaign, which began in 1929, was violent, brutal and sudden...The peasants violently resisted collectivization through armed rebellions, and destroying crops and livestock. Stalin's response was draconian. All collective land, agricultural produce and implements were declared state property and anyone guilty of destroying or damaging them was to be shown no mercy. Peasants were forbidden to leave the countryside without permission while rich peasants (kulaks) were expelled and killed or sent to labor camps. Agricultural production fell by 40 percent...Famine ensued. On average, the peasants were left with a third less grain than they had between 1926 and 1930."

Famine poster

American Relief Administration Poster asking for aid for the Russian Famine

The spring of 1932 and 1933 were brutal: "Vasily Grossman, a Soviet writer recorded: 'When the snow melted true starvation began. People had swollen faces and legs and stomachs. They could not contain their urine...And now they ate anything at all. They caught mice, rats, sparrows, ants, earthworms. They ground up bones into flour, and did the same thing with leather and shoe soles; they cut up old skins and furs to make noodles of a kind and they cooked glue. And when the grass came up, they began to dig up the roots and ate the leaves and the buds, they used everything there was; dandelions, and burdocks and bluebells and willowroot, and sedums and nettles...'
...The famine which struck the Soviet Union in the winter of 1932-33 was unlike 1921 and appears to be instigated by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin whose main goal was to force farmers into collectivization. It is estimated that between 2 and 7 million people died from this man-made famine in Russia." (Norka website)

Margaretha died of starvation in about 1934 in Leichtling, Saratov, Russia. Adam Kreiger, Barbra's husband, was forced at some point to serve in the Soviet Army. This could be brutal service and his chances of survival would have been low. Barbra’s fate is unknown.

Margaretha (Mueller) Mehler

How do we know what happened to the family left behind in the Soviet Union? Because of the secrecy of the Soviet government, letters going to America were heavily censored with anything objectionable blacked out. The Germans in Russia sent potentially objectionable news to their relatives in America by writing it on the envelope instead of the letter and covering it with the stamp. The recipient would then steam off the stamp and read the real news. The Mahler children in America, who had been working with the Red Cross to try and get their family out of the USSR, learned of their parents’ deaths in this manner.

As for the other children, while they did experience the Great Depression and World War II, they they found safe, relatively secure lives in America. Magdelina Mary Mehler married Joseph Andrew Mildenberger before she left Russia. She died in 1953 in Ovid, Colorado. John Mehler married Catherine Monhieser in 1938 in Denver, Colorado and became a foundry worker. He lived to 1962. To my knowledge, they did not have children of their own.

John and Jacob Mahler

Magdalina (Mahler) Mildenberger
and Jacob Mahler

Jacob John Mahler married Rose Catherine Knoll in 1921 in Denver. He farmed sugar beets in Colorado. After his crops froze and his farm was lost, he worked at an iron smelter, then in public service, both in Denver. Unless Barbra somehow survived revolution, famine, and deportation to Siberia, Kazakhstan, and other remote locations during World War II, Jacob was the longest lived of his siblings, dying in 1988 in Denver. He also left nine children and they and their descendants may possibly be the only descendants of Peter and Margaretha.

Jacob and Rose (Knoll) Mahler and all but one of their children, 1943

Next week's challenge from No Story Too Small: "Week 27 (July 2-8) – Independent: This is the week for Independence Day! Which one fought for (or against) America’s independence? Or which of your ancestors was independent?" From the Russian Revolution to the American Revolution...the next challenge will feature an ancestor who fought as a patriot on both land and sea. You also see a connection between this particular ancestor and Captain Jack Sparrow...not kidding! Happy Fourth!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

52 Ancestors: Old Homestead

"Week 25 (June 18-24) – The Old Homestead: Have you visited an ancestral home? Do you have photos of an old family house? Do you have homesteading ancestors?" (No Story Too Small)

I've been able to visit a couple of old ancestral homes. There was the old home in Lough Gur, Ireland, where ancestor Maurice Hickey left for America. Nearby that is an overgrown mound where an even older home once stood. I've been to the ruins of Musbury Castle, home of the Drakes. But for this entry, I'll write about Samuel and Pamelo (Wishaw) Green and their home. When I was living in Orem, their home wasn't far away. I'd go up State Street, headed toward the Mount Timpanogos Temple, and see a restaurant called the Purple Turtle. It's kind of hard to miss--it does sort of look like a purple turtle. The Green home still stands in good condition in the neighborhood behind the restaurant.

The Samuel Green House, Pleasant Grove, Utah
If you see this, you know you're close to the Green house.
Image courtesy

Samuel Comes to Pleasant Grove

Samuel Green was born 28 October 1831 in Claverley, Shropshire, England, the first child of William Henry and Mary (Bennett) Green. Of Claverly, my mother wrote, "The town of Claverley is a beautiful town of half-timbered buildings. The parish church of Claverley is an ancient one, and has an interesting series of wall paintings of five pairs of knights on horseback, which dates back to about 1200. A Saxon font which dates to the late 7th century is found in the church, along with a Norman font. Claverley was owned by Leofric, Earl of Mercia, whose wife, Lady Godiva, is associated with the famous legend."

The church, Claverly
Photo by Alice C. Boyd, 1992

A frieze inside the church
Photo by Alice C. Boyd, 1992
The Saxon font in the church
Photo by Alice C. Boyd, 1992

The Norman font in the church
Photo by Alice C. Boyd, 1992

Samuel's father was a laborer, which meant that the family often had to move from town to town so he could find work. According to Melissa Green Manwill, “The Green family started shifting around to find employment, first in Gloucestershire and Staffordshire. At an early age Samuel and John shifted for themselves, seeking employment. Later they joined their father. William Henry and wife had already heard the missionaries and were anxious to have the two boys home with them so they could all embrace the gospel at the same time. They were all baptized on January 11, 1850.  Mary Bennett was baptized in 1849." (Life of John Green)  

Samuel was nineteen when he was baptized. A couple of years later, in 1852, they attempted to make the trip to gather to Utah. “Arriving at Liverpool, William deposited 6,000 shillings to pay for their transportation to America. After making all arrangements, they were told that the sea was rough and dangerous and that no ships would sail before the middle of January. The only thing William could do was rent a small place and wait. The Green family was assigned to sail on the Ellen Maria, but the Captain informed them that only Samuel would be able to go. Having no desire to sail alone, Samuel sold his ticket to another passenger and he remained to travel with his dear family.” 

The Green family crossed the Atlantic in the Elvira Owen in 1853. Green family members are listed as having been in the Cyrus Wheelock Company, crossing the plains to Utah. Samuel is not listed and it's uncertain how or when he crossed after the ocean voyage, though he may he crossed with his family after all.

John Brown, the Church agent in charge of emigrating Saints gave the family advice which would lead them to their future home: “While journeying, Brother John Brown told the Green family about the beautiful Utah Valley, with its groves of cottonwood trees and sparkling streams of fresh water. "It would be an ideal spot to call home", said Elder Brown.” After a short rest in Salt Lake for a short time, they traveled south to Utah Valley, where they helped settle Pleasant Grove, Utah. 

Pleasant Grove in the foreground, looking west toward Utah Lake and
the Lake Mountains. The Wasatch Range, including Mount Timpanagos
are to the east of town.
Photo by Don LaVange, Wikipedia
Pleasant Grove and Lindon, looking east toward Mount Timpanogos (part of the
Wasatch Range)
Photo by André Bonacin, Panaramio

My mother wrote, "The Fort had just been completed, and the family lived inside the Fort in their covered wagon. Later a one-room house was built inside the Fort Square." They underwent hardships. In 1855, the infamous crickets returned and destroyed the crops. The Green had to survive on sego, thistle, and red-root. (I would later student teach at Sego Lily Elementary in Lehi at the north of the valley, named after the Utah state flower that kept my family and other settlers alive.)

Sego Lily

Pamelo Comes to Pleasant Grove

Meanwhile, Samuel's future wife, Pamelo Wishaw was born April 14, 1841, at Worcester, Worcester, England, the daughter of James Frederick Wishaw and Maryann Merrick. 


Worcester Cathedral

The Wishaws were living in Birmingham were living there by the time Pamelo was two and she was christened 27 January 1845 at St. Martin's Parish in Birmingham. James was a fishmonger who died when Pamelo was six. 

St. Martin's, Birmingham

Pamelo and her mother and siblings moved in with her maternal parents, James and Elizabeth (Bumford) Meyrick, in Ludlow, Shropshire. Here, they met some Mormon elders, and were baptized in the River Teme in 1849. 

The River Teme

At the age of twelve, Pamelo was orphaned when her mother died of dysentery. Her grandparents then raised her and her siblings. At the age of fourteen, the Meyricks and their orphaned grandchildren came to America aboard the ship Sanders Curling

They and the other members of their company received divine help in their voyage: “Elder Peter Reid, who emigrated to America as a passenger in the Samuel Curling, in 1855, and who now resides in Sixteenth Ward, Salt Lake City, told the writer some time ago that the ship encountered several storms in her passage across the Atlantic, but that she passed safely through them all. In the midst of one of these storms the captain got somewhat disheartened, and declared to Brother Barlow, the president of the company of emigrants, that he, in his long experience as a seafaring man, had never encountered a worse one; he then added that the tempest had not reached its highest point yet, but that the next half hour would be worse still. Brother Barlow, in reply, told the captain that the storm was nearly over, and would not increase in violence. This bold remark of Brother Barlow made the captain angry, as he thought he knew more about the weather and the sea than anyone else on board; but on going into his cabin to examine his barometer and other nautical instruments, he found that Brother Barlow was right; the storm abated almost immediately. Elder Barlow afterwards told some of the Saints that while the storm was raging he saw the ship surrounded by scores of angels, who stood in a circle around it with joined hands. This was a testimony to the Saints that the Lord was watching over the ship, and that there was no danger.” (Millennial Star, Vol XVII, pp. 280, 397, 399, 423, 459, 461, 490)

They traveled across the plains with the Captain Milo Andrus Company and the trip was difficult for Pamelo. Her uncle, John Meyrick, recorded upon her arrival in the Salt Lake Valley that, “Pemlow has been very sick of the mountain fever. Most of the hair has come out of her head.” They arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on October 24, 1855. 

John Meyrick had settled in the Pleasant Grove area and Pamelo and the rest of the family moved into the house he had built. There, in Pleasant Grove, Samuel and Pamelo met.

Samuel and Pamelo Marry

Twenty-six year old Samuel married seventeen Pamelo Wishaw in August 28, 1858 and had sixteen children. Of these children, Samuel James, William Henry, Charles Edward, Mary Ella, Herman, Joseph Erving, Alfred Ray, and Susie Josephine lived to adulthood. 

Inset:Samuel and Pamelo (Wishaw) Green
Back row: William H, Charles, Herman, Joseph Irving, Alfred Ray
Front row: Mary Ella, Samuel, Susie 

The family found themselves in the middle of the Black Hawk War in 1863. This was probably before the house I'm describing was built but this incident took place where Samuel and Pamelo were living, though some sources say this battle took place at the home of John Green, Samuel’s brother. Regarding the battle at Pleasant Grove, Utah, William H. Seegmiller said: "On the evening of April 12, 1863 we camped at Pleasant Grove, Utah County. We had been camped but a short time when a band of Indians, probably fifty, under the leadership of Little Soldier, came to our camp and inquired if we were Americats. We answered no, and he then asked if we knew where the Americats were camped; we told them that we did not know. They then said: "We find them." They passed on down the street towards the center of town. Some of Brigadier General Connor's command from Fort Douglas were in town...Soon we heard a loud report and learned that Connor's men had found out that the Indians were coming for them, and had shot a Howitzer, a small cannon, at them as they were turning south to where the soldiers were located. We were informed that the soldiers went to Samuel Green's house on the east side of the road and asked the people to leave, which they did in a hurry. The soldiers then went into the house, pulled their cannon in with them, pulled up some of the floor and got under it, leaving their wagons in the road and their mules and horses were in a corral on the west side of the street. The Indians dared not follow the troops into the house, but shot into it through the door and window, peppering the back wall with bullets. When the Indians saw they could not successfully rout the soldiers or kill them, they turned their attention to booty. But when the soldiers saw they were going to lose their horses they fired a charge of grape shot from their cannon into the corral at their animals, preferring to kill them to letting the Indians get them. They killed and maimed some; the Indians got those not hurt and loaded them with blankets and supplies, and struck for the mountains very much pleased with their success."

About Samuel

Samuel Green

About Samuel Green, my mother wrote, "Samuel Green was a hard-working man, and became one of the prosperous farmers of Pleasant Grove. Timpanogos Town describes Samuel Green as "a farmer who brought forth some of the biggest crops per acre in fertile Utah Valley". Samuel worked for the Utah Sugar Company as a Utah County field agent for many years. Samuel Green was an elected member of the Pleasant Grove City Council. He was ordained a High Priest and was an active Church member."

The History of William Henry Green records, “Those who remember Samuel Green recall him as a man who stood upright, had square shoulders, was of medium height and of slender appearance. His hair was heavy and ruddy brown. He wore a full beard and mustache. Samuel Green was a quiet man and a thinker, but not a conversationalist; two stories from out of his life describe his personality. At one time the family grocery account at the Pleasant Grove Mercantile was getting rather high in the mind of the proprietor, William L. Hayes. It was the custom for townsfolk to charge the few items they had to buy at the store from one harvest season to another, and then settle the account as cattle "came off" the mountain or the yield of the farms was "in". The Green family followed this practice. William Hayes spoke with Samuel Green about the bill, to which Samuel replied, "I pay my bills."The other incident was a remark by one of Samuel Green's associates: "Sam Green doesn't say much, but he sure keeps up a hell of a thinking." 

“...Samuel Green and Pamelo Wishaw enjoyed their family. They were hospitable and generous with their grandchildren. Grandpa Green is remembered as having favored little girls, probably because he lost so many of his own small daughters.” (History of William Henry Green) 

About Pamelo

Pamelo (Green) Wishaw

The History of the William Henry Green Family describes Pamelo: “Pamelo Wishaw Green was fairly short and had a round face. Her eyes were deep set and her hair was dark. In dress she was neat and clean; but it was the gaiety of her spirit and the generosity of her nature that is remembered. Pamelo was a faithful church member. It was her practice for many years to see to it that flowers from her beautiful garden were taken to the chapel each Sunday morning to help create a spiritual atmosphere.”

Seven Sisters Roses
(Pamelo is said to have grown this rose variety.)
Photo by Vintage Rosery, Needville, TX

Howard R. Driggs (Timpangos Town) recorded: "In a certain town lived a helpful lady whom everyone called Aunt Pamelo. Every Sunday she would bring a beautiful home-grown bouquet to place on the stand at church. Whenever there was a wedding or a funeral, she expressed her heart through flowers. At one time the Superintendent of the Sunday School expressed appreciation for her gift to help cheer the day. He said, "Aunt Pamelo, how can you grow such beautiful flowers all year?" "Oh, I just love flowers," she replied, "And I think they love me."

Pamelo also "provided an organ and an accordian for her musically talented children." ("Utah State Historical Society Structure/Site Information Form: Green, Samuel, House," National Park Service, April 1987.)

She was remembered as a good cook, and made “gooseberry pies which her children remembered into their adulthood. Stewed tomatoes heated with morsels of bread, and diced onions in bread and milk are dishes she made and ones still served on the tables of her descendants.”(The History of the William Henry Green Family)

Here is one of the recipes, as it has been passed down to me:

Pamelo Wishaw Green's Gooseberry Pie
1 pint fresh gooseberries
1 cup sugar

Remove the stems from the berries. Put them in a saucepan with the sugar, and water, if needed. Cook until softened. Cool. Pour into an unbaked pie crust. Cover with the top crust. Slash and bake in a hot oven, about 450 degrees for about 25 minutes, until browned.

Samuel and Pamelo Build Their House

In about 1870, the Greens built a two-story soft-rock house, then near the south and east walls of the Grove Fort, by then abandoned. This home is now located at 264 East 299 South in Pleasant Grove, is well preserved with minor alterations, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes. Pamelo, of course, planted her beautiful flowers around this home.

According to the Utah State Historical Society, "Built c. 1870, the Samuel Green House is a two-story soft-rock vernacular house with a hall-parlor plan and a gable roof. The only clearly visible alteration on the exterior is the two-story front porch that was added in 1985, It is a compatible addition that does not significantly detract from the original integrity of the house. The house has a symmetrical three-bay facade with a central door flanked by six-over-six double-hung windows. There are plain wooden lintels over the door and windows. There is a small cross gable centered over the second story door. A full length porch was added to the main and second floor in 1985, though historically there was never was a porch on the house. The west and east ends are asymmetrically pierced with windows, and there is a 1-story, gabled roof ell extension to the south. The walls of that rear extension, which are also constructed of soft-rock, have been stuccoed and scored to imitate ashlar. A concrete porch with chamfered wooden posts is located on the west side of this ell. On the east side is a lean-to addition (date unknown). Attached to the south side of that lean-to is a small concrete block room with a gable roof. Judging from its appearance, it was probably built in the 1940s or '50s.

"The Green house appears as the original except for the porch; all windows and much of the glass are original, and the interior also maintains its integrity. Some woodwork has been replaced and a fireplace mantle has been inserted in the living room. All the other rooms remain unaltered. A bathroom and kitchen were added c.1955. There is a small frame outbuilding behind the house that does not contribute to the signicance of the property." ("Utah State Historical Society Structure/Site Information Form: Green, Samuel, House," National Park Service, April 1987.

This report goes on to describe the significance of the house: "Built c. 1870, the Samuel Green House is one of the 13 buildings included in the Pleasant Grove Soft-rock Buildings Thematic Resource nomination. Soft-rock buildings are signficant because they help document the distinctive regional diversity found in nineteenth-century building stones in Utah. They also represent a distinct phase of the building construction industry in the Pleasant Grove area. Mormon community building in the Great Basin West rested upon the dual principles of order and permanence, and the grid-iron town plan and the use of stone as an early building material have become important symbols of Mormon settlement values. A great variety of local stones were used throughout the state, and the soft and easily worked tufa stone, popular in Pleasant Grove between about 1865 to 1900, remains one of the most distinctive. About 130 soft-rock buildings were known to have once stood in Pleasant Grove, yet there are only 13 well preserved examples today. Most of the earlier buildings, constructed during the 1850s and '60s, were made of adobe, which was easily made and worked. As fired brick became more available and fashionable during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it replaced soft-rock as the dominant local building material. The remaining soft-rock buildings are important examples of a local architectural tradition and contribute to an understanding of the regional diversity of Utah's early architectural history."

Samuel and Pamelo Pass on into Eternity

Pamelo died January 10, 1907. She had struggled with asthma before pressurized inhalers and anti-infammatory asthma treatments had been developed: “For many years she slept propped up by pillows and was ever seeking relief through the patent medicines the traveling drug salesmen brought to town. She died of the ailment at 9:00 a.m. on January 10, 1907, at 65 years of age.” (The History of the William Henry Green Family)

Their son Joseph and his family then moved in to the house to take care of Samuel. “A family incident occurred when the family of Joseph Green was living at the Samuel Green home to care for the aged Grandfather. Their eldest son, a boy of about seven, became irked at something and announced he was going to run away from home. His absence did not cause his parents concern until nightfall; a neighborhood hunt did not locate the boy. Then Grandpa Green "thought like a boy" and looked under the granary. There he found the sleeping lad.” (History of William Henry Green) 
Samuel died in 1910: “On the day before his death, Susie Josephine Green Robison and her eight year-old son visited Samuel Green. While standing on a chair, the little boy recited "Little Orphan Annie" to his Grandpa, whereat the elderly gentleman tried unsuccessfully to find a nickel in his packet. "Come tomorrow and I'll have a nickel for you," said Grandpa Green, but he was unable to keep his promise. At 7:20 a.m. on January 18, 1910, the 78 year-old man was sitting in a favored kitchen chair playing with his grandchildren when death came.” (History of William Henry Green) 

"They both lay in state, after death, in the large living room of the house they built and shared for almost 40 years." ("Utah State Historical Society Structure/Site Information Form: Green, Samuel, House," National Park Service, April 1987.) Samuel and Pamelo (Wishaw) Green are both buried in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery, less than a mile away from their home, at 500 North Main.

Samuel's inscription on the tombstone

Pamelo's inscription on the tombstone
In the late 1980s, it was reported that, "The house has remained in family ownership and care, but through the years the acreage around it has been sold for building lots. After Samuel, the house was owned and occupied by a daughter, Susie Josephine Green Robinson, until 1941. A granddaughter of Samuel, Leah Millar, owned and occupied the soft-rock house until her death in 1980. Now a great granddaughter, Michele Draper, and her husband, Kevin, have purchased and are occupying the house. In 1985, Michele and Kevin added a two-story porch across the front of the house. The second level was built with a door that would have opened onto an upper porch level, though the porch was never actually built." ("Utah State Historical Society Structure/Site Information Form: Green, Samuel, House," National Park Service, April 1987.)

For more information on Samuel and Pamelo and their home, see:

Next week's challenge from No Story Too Small: "Week 26 (June 25-July 1) – Halfway: This week marks the halfway point in the year — and the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge! What ancestor do you have that you feel like you’ve only researched halfway? What ancestor do you feel like takes up half of your research efforts?" This challenge will take us to the beginnings of Soviet Russia, to my most recent brick wall ancestor.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

52 Ancestors: Heirloom

"Week 24 (June 11-17) – Heirloom: What heirloom do you treasure? Who gave it to you? What heirloom do you wish you had?" (No Story Too Small)

So, this week is the first week of a remodel...yep, fun. It will be worth it in the end, it will be worth it in the end, it will be worth it in the end... But I did want to take time to share my heirloom because it has a nice story.

Here is my heirloom:

Grandpa's bookcase
Nice, huh?

It didn't look so stately and lovely as it does now when it came to me. I had taken a week-long break from grad school in Utah and returned home to California to help my mother. Fortunately, I had finished my coursework and was working on my project and my internship supervisor was very supportive. Grandma's care had become such that she needed to move into an assisted living facility. My task during my break was to help Mom clean Grandma's house and hold a garage sale for Grandma to sell what Grandma couldn't use or couldn't find a home with family. It was tough--I think I'd rather go through more of this remodeling than relive that.

During the garage sale at the end of the week, the bookcase was brought down from the attic and put in the garage to be tagged. No one paid it any attention. No one tried to negotiate for it. No one wanted it. It looked old and tired, covered in scuff marks and likely not worth much.

But Mom recognized it from better days. It was Grandpa's bookcase.

The short bio about him on her website states that James Aloysius Carey "was born February 7, 1920 in San Francisco, California. He was an Eagle Scout. Jim attended U.C. Berkeley on a scholarship, majoring in chemical engineering. He served as an artillery spotter in World War II, and received the Bronze Star for bravery. He married Beulah Green, and had four children: Charles, Alice, Raymond, and William. Jim worked for the Bank of America as a computer research consultant, and played a pioneering role in establishing computer systems for the bank. He died October 22, 1992, in San Francisco."

James A. Carey

Grandpa was a quiet guy, though he did have a sense of humor, which many of his descendants seem to have inherited. And he was very smart. He'd keep a yellow tablet at his place at the head of the table when it wasn't set for dinner, along with a very sharp No. 2 pencil, and work out complex equations there in his free time.

Grandpa at his usual spot at the table
From left to right: Ray, Charlie, Grandma, Grandpa, Bill
Photo by my mother

He had a talent for finding out information. If he needed to build a brick wall, even though he hadn't done so before, he would look up how to in a book (remember, he died before the Internet was broadly used) and make one of the best brick walls any of us had ever seen. Once my mother, then working as a children's librarian, was helping a child find the state fish of Hawaii. She had exhausted the library's resources and had called Grandpa up. Not long after he returned the call and let her know that he had found its name--it was the humuhumunukunukuapua'a.

He would entertain me and my brother with science gadgets (such as a ball clock) and experiments. One time, he showed me how to calculate my average step length, then hooked a pedometer to me and had me bounce on a trampoline for a couple of minutes. We then calculated how many steps I would have to take to equal what the pedometer had registered from all that bouncing. As much as I disliked math in school, I enjoyed that special story problem!

We went with my grandparents on several trips. My first trip to Disneyland was with them. They took us to Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We went to their friends' farm and stayed over and I was able to ride a pony, collect peacock feathers, and feed chickens. Grandpa also introduced me to big band, Victor Borge, and Spike Jones.

And the books! There were books everywhere in my grandparents' house, in every room, except maybe the bathroom (keep a book where it might get dirty and wet! gasp!). There were several bookcases but not enough--there are never enough bookcases for Careys! I recently saw an idea on Pinterest about using stacks of books as decoration on the sides of a staircase. The pinner praised it as a novel idea ( I see the pun...groan) but to me it reminded me of Grandpa. There were books piled up on the steps up to the attic. The majority were non-fiction. There was some fiction, particularly of the James Michener sort. 

Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa's
(note yet another bookcase in the corner)
Left to right: Grandma, Adam, Andrea, me, Mom, Grandpa, Ray, Bill

I remember as a child poring over books when I visited, which was often. My particular favorite was a book that showed wide variety of objects and labeled every part, some of the part names being pretty obscure. He also had a nice, very complete encyclopedia. In the time before the Internet, pulling a random volume and reading on a random subject was an especially effective way to learn widely.

As I said before, there were several bookcases. But the bookcase in question was an especially nice one and it had been Grandpa's boyhood bookcase. Apparently, he also had two beds in his room--one for sleeping, one that held the overflow from the bookcase.

Grandpa as a boy

Well, here it was, in sad condition, at a garage sale. And Mom seemed pretty sad about it. But then she suggested that if I wanted it, maybe we wouldn't have to sell it. I don't know what it was about that old, beat-up bookcase that made me want to take a chance on it. Maybe that it had been Grandpa's. Maybe that it was a bookcase and anything that could hold so many stories and knowledge must be special, even if it was scuffed and worn. Maybe it was the architectural details that hinted of past beauty. But I ended up putting a Sold tag on it.

The garage sale traffic ebbed and flowed throughout the day and in the quieter moments, I began to wipe the bookcase down with lemon furniture oil. The wood was thirsty, sucking in the oil as fast as I could put it down. But then as the wood began to suck in the oil it so desperately needed, something wonderful happened. The wood's beauty began to shine forth. It was solid, no laminates or veneers or plywood in it, made probably of mahogany.  And it had the patina of decades, glowing with its aged dignity from within. The scuffs lessened under my care and many disappeared until it looked antique but not worn. It was beautiful again.

A customer returned and spotted the bookcase, now marked Sold, and lamented that he had not bought it earlier. Others remarked on its beauty. I heard one person offer to buy it "if the other deal fell through." But it was going to stay with the granddaughter who loved books like the grandfather who had once filled it full of books.

Grandpa and my brother
Grandpa loved a good nap and a book, as do many of his descendants.

Right now, the bookcase and I have returned to the family home for the time being, where it's holding some of Mom's special items. But it has traveled with me to Utah and Virginia and has stood in my living room in my Salt Lake and Yorktown apartments. It has held my hardbound illustrated copies of Jane Austen and Tolkien novels, leatherbound works of the Bronte sisters, volumes of the works of latter-day prophets and scriptures and hymns, instuctional design texts, and other beloved books. Whatever it holds, books, statuary, or glass from the Jamestown Glasshouse, I regularly empty its shelves and wipe it down with the oil it needs. And it glows as if from within.

It reminds me of The Touch of the Master's Hand by Myra Brooks Welch:

’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three—” But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone!” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game—and he travels on.
He’s “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

President Boyd K. Packer gave a wonderful talk related to this poem. You may want to check it out.

The bookcase reminds me of this poem. It reminds me of Grandpa, a quiet man who had intelligence and humor to spare, particularly if you took the time to know him. And relating it to family history, it makes me think of the relatives of the past, sometimes neglected and passed over by the living and sometimes treasured, their memories preserved and made to live again.

Next week's challenge from No Story Too Small: "Week 25 (June 18-24) – The Old Homestead: Have you visited an ancestral home? Do you have photos of an old family house? Do you have homesteading ancestors?" Yes, and I think it's time to return to Utah--Pleasant Grove to be specific.