Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When Life Gets Too Busy...

For months, I've basically been a "stay at home mom." I've had plenty of time to do genealogy. In fact, I spent as much time on genealogy as a full time job! 

A few weeks ago, my life changed drastically. As a result, I won't have much time for genealogy for the next few months. In fact, last night was the first time I'd done any genealogy in about 2 weeks!

I miss genealogy and interacting with my blogging friends... and discovering new blogs! But, I'll be back as soon as I can! I know it will all be waiting for me when life calms down again!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mary Ellen (Coppenbarger) Waggoner: Survivor of a Twister (#10 of 52 Ancestors)

My great, great grandparents, Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger & Elizabeth (Bennett) Coppenbarger lived in the small community of Ashton, Kansas near the Oklahoma border. In 1899, four of their children, including my great grandmother Myrtle Mae, were still living at home. I'm not sure where one son, Alva, was living, but their oldest daughter, Mary Ellen or "Ella," was married and living nearby with her husband, D. V. Waggoner, and their 10-month-old baby, Floyd.

Living in Tornado Alley, the family must have been accustomed to the fear of twisters. But, on the night of May 31st, those fears became reality as a small tornado touched down in Ashton. Though not large, it did damage throughout the community. One family was particularly affected: t wasn't a large twister, but it directly affected the community of Ashton and my Coppenbarger family.... especially the small family of daughter Ella, her husband, D. V., and baby Floyd.

"Dszpics1" by Daphne Zaras posted on Wikipedia
Here's what the nearby Arkansas City Daily Traveler reported:


Visits Ashton and Mixes the Small Buildings up in One Conglomerated Mess - One Man and One Woman Injured

Last night the town of Ashton was visited by a small cyclone, which, while not one of monumental proportions, was large enough to seriously inconvenience the residents of that place for several days.

At 11:15 last night the storm burst upon the town preceded by a severe electrical storm and dashes of rain. The path of the twister, which was a small one, was in a southwesterly direction. It struck the town coming from the northeast.

The residence of D. V. Waggoner, a one story, five room house was entirely demolished. Mr. Waggoner was blown about 450 feet and badly cut about the head besides being severely injured by falling timbers. The little baby was blown about 150 feet and not injured at all. 

[Here I'm skipping some of the article which tells about other damages.]

All the small buildings in town were either blown down or twisted out of shape but Waggoner's house was the only building of any size that was badly damaged.

A letter posted the following week in the paper adds a few details:

Dear Sir: A cyclone struck Ashton about 12:30 o'clock a.m. completely destroying D. V. Waggoner's residence and all contents, badly wounding him, and his wife slightly injured. The baby found out by itself uninjured. Waggoner's loss is complete as there was no insurance.... Rubbish was carried several hundred yards and cars on siding were some damaged, one S. F. badly, part of roof of Waggoner's house was carried about three hundred yards and lodged against the depot.

I can barely imagine the fear that the Waggoner's experienced as the tornado approached them. I grew up near Ashton and have had a few scares, but only minor damage. How did D. V. and Ella find each other after the tornado? How did baby Floyd end up by himself... was he ripped from his mother's arms? Did they have to dig D. V. out from under the timbers? How long did they search for each other? Did they find baby Floyd by following his cries? And, how badly was D. V. injured?

Besides the fear, pain & loss that the three Waggoner's experienced, I wonder what Ella's parents and siblings felt. When did they learn that Ella's house and all of her belongings were destroyed? Did Ella's family move back in with her parents for months? Was the house crowded?

Thankfully, the story turned out alright. Though there was much loss, there was no loss of life. But, what a terrifying ordeal.

My Line of Descent
  • Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger (1844-1934) m Elizabeth Bennett (1849-1914) 
  • parents of both Myrtle Mae & Mary Ellen "Ella" Coppenbarger 
  • Myrtle Mae Coppenbarger (1880-1970) m Emil Wilhelm Peters (1877-1955) 
  • Hazel Lucille Peters(1910-1975) m James Edward Stewart (1910-1972) (my paternal grandparents) 
(Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow at "No Story Too Small" for creating "52 Ancestors" where we can share our ancestors stories, one week at a time. This week's optional theme was "Bad Weather"]

  • A Small Twister, Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 01 Jun 1899, page 5, column 2, 
  • digital image, ( accessed 30 Sep 2014) 
  • A. N. Brown Letter, Weekly Republican-Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 08 Jun 1899, page 7, column 1, digital image, ( accessed 10 Mar 2015) 
Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Robert Stewart: Owner of a Pet Bear (#9 of 52 Ancestors)

As a child, I loved to watch Grizzly Adams on television along with his pet bear, Ben. I had no idea that my own ancestor, Robert Stewart, also had a pet bear! His bear's name was "Bruin" (which means "bear") and they lived in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800's. While doing research, I uncovered an article titled "Mike Swartz and the Black Bear" in "History of Centre and Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania" which was published in 1883. The "black bear" in this story was Bruin, and I'm assuming things must have turned out alright. Robert died about 30 years before this book was published, but I can imagine the stories of him & Bruin being told at gatherings throughout the county. I'm thankful this story was preserved in print.

File:James Grizzly Adams - Towne & Bacon, 1860.jpg
An image of "Grizzly Adams" & his pet bear from Wikipedia

Mike Swartz and the Black Bear
A tame bear belonging to the family of Robert Stewart was missing one morning, whereupon a man by the name of Mike Swartz and Mr. Stewart went in pursuit of him. After a while he was discovered in a tree a short distance from the house. One of the men, who had a gun, fired at the bear, and succeeded in bringing him to the ground, but slightly wounded. In order to prevent Bruin from escaping Mike ran up and caught hold of the bear, which in turn Bruin caught Mike by the hand with his mouth, at the same time giving him a hug such only as bears can give; at which Mike called out to his companion, who was at a safe distance, to come to his assistance, but Stewart, who no doubt thought "self-preservation the first law of nature," coolly replied, "Mike, if you were my own born dear brother I could do nothing for you under the circumstances."

For Sale, Public Ledger, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 10 Sep 1845, page 2, column 5;
digital image accessed 18 Sep 2014)
As I looked for any newspaper article about my ancestor and his bear, I came across a lot of pet bear stories even into the 1900's. As could be expected, many of them did not have happy endings. Above is one clipping from Pennsylvania in 1845 offering a pet bear for sale. I wonder if Robert bought his bear or found an orphaned cub and raised it.

My Line of Descent
  • Robert Stewart (1773-1854) m Frances Quigley (1783-1869) 
  • John Quiggle Stewart (1825-1883) m Sarah Jane Watson (1826-1853) 
  • Alexander Stewart (1852-1922) m Catharine Jane McClintock (1852-1929) 
  • Andrew "Andy" McClinock Stewart (1882-1954) m. Bessie Waldron Merrill (1879-1959) 
  • James Edward Stewart (1910-1972) m. Hazel Lucille Peters (1910-1975) (my paternal grandparents) 
Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at

Fearless Females, Day 3: Where'd She Get Her Name?

Lisa Alzo has used the month of March for her "Fearless Females" blogging prompts for the past 6 years. She has posted her daily prompts and has also included free access to her "Tips and Tricks for Tracing Female Ancestors" Webinar for the month.

March 3rd prompt: Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother. or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you've come across in your family tree.

Origins of My Name

My sister was not quite one and her best friend was named Dana. My mom loved that name. My parents moved a few months before I was born and they named me Dana! (I think it'd have been weird if they still were living next door to each other.) They chose my middle name because they liked the way the names sounded together. (I do, too!)

Ellender (Bookout) Bennet posted on FindAGrave by my dad
I believe the original is in possession of my aunt & uncle

Most Unusual Female Name on My Tree

Since my name doesn't really fit the criteria, I'm moving on to the second part of Lisa's prompt... the most unusual female name in my tree. I think that would be my 3rd great grandmother, Ellender (Bookout) Bennett (1817 in KY - 1905 in MO).

Though her name often appears as some form of "Eleanor", her name has been passed down in our family as "Ellender." Her name appears in many forms in various records:
  • Eleanor in the 1850 census 
  • Elanor in 1860 census 
  • Ellendor in 1870 census 
  • Elenor in 1880 census 
  • Elendar in 1865 Kansas census 
  • Ellender in 1924 legal notice in "The Humboldt Union" newspaper
Do we have ancestors in common? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fearless Females, Day 2: Photo of a Female Ancestor

Lisa Alzo has used the month of March for her "Fearless Females" blogging prompts for the past 6 years. She has posted her daily prompts and has also included free access to her "Tips and Tricks for Tracing Female Ancestors" Webinar for the month.

March 2nd prompt: Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

Lillian (Ward) Evans, my grandmother Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle
sitting, my great, great grandmother Sallie (Ward) Dickson, age 92
sitting, my mom, her oldest brother Sherman, and baby Ronnie
(photo in possession of my mom)

Who is in this photo? This is a photo of 3 of my female ancestors. In the back on the right in the dark dress is my grandmother, Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle. In the middle by herself is my great, great grandmother, Sallie (Dickson) Ward, who I wrote about yesterday who was 92. And, in the front row is my mother. My grandmother, Evelyn, was raised by her grandmother, Sallie.

When was this photo taken? The photo was taken in the summer of 1952 in Tennessee. My mom thinks it might have been taken at her aunt & uncle's house where Sallie lived. She's asking her older brother if he can identify the other lady in the photo.

An interesting story about the photo... At this time, my grandmother & grandfather had five children. About every other summer, they would make the long drive from Indiana to Tennessee. This time, they were bringing along baby Ronnie for the first time. Some time into the trip, hopefully just a few miles in but my mom doesn't remember for sure, my grandmother realized she'd forgotten the baby! As you can see, they turned the family car around and raced home to get him.

Why did I choose this photo? I believe I only have 3 photos of my great, great grandmother, Sallie, who I wrote about yesterday. I posted one of her younger photos yesterday. This is the oldest photo I have of her. I also have a photo of her when my grandmother was a little girl that I need to locate and share. I hope someday someone will come across this post that is also related to Sallie and perhaps has more photos they can share with me or will appreciate the photos I have shared.

Do we have ancestors in common? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fearless Females, Day 1: A Favorite Female Ancestor

Lisa Alzo has used the month of March for her "Fearless Females" blogging prompts for the past 6 years. She has posted her daily prompts and has also included free access to her "Tips and Tricks for Tracing Female Ancestors" Webinar for the month.

March 1st prompt: Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check. 

Sisters Mary, Julia & Sallie Dickson in Perry County, Tennessee
My ancestor: Sallie Harriet (Dickson) Ward, my great, great grandmother

Her Story

Sallie was the youngest of 9 children born to Matthew James Dickson (1820-1904) and Lenora "Nora" J Mays (1823-1909) in 1860 in Perry County, Tennessee. She married Reuben Houston Ward, a farmer who later became a Methodist minister. They had 9 children together, though one died as an infant. Reuben was murdered in 1906 and I've recently told his story

One of their daughters, Lenora "Nora", married a cousin, James Bedford Dickson. They had five children, including my grandmother who was less than 9 months old when her mother, Nora, died. James raised the older four children, but his mother-in-law, Sallie, raised the baby, my grandmother.

Sallie lived as a widow for more than 50 years and died in 1960 at the age of 99. She'd lived in the same county, surrounded by family, her entire life. My grandmother thought of her as her mother.

Research Plan
  • Talk to my mom and see what she knows
  • Try to locate her on the 1940 census
  • Try to find newspaper clippings
  • See if death records are available for 1960
  • Check FamilySearch for Sallie

Color Clustering: Top 25 Fourth Cousins

For more on Color Clustering & DNA, please visit my new website at:  For another look at how Color Clustering works...