From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thunderstorms and Tornadoes

Wild weather in western Kentucky


Tonight, I'm listening to WHOP, the Hopkinsville news radio station. They've been broadcasting non-stop severe weather coverage for several hours. The uninterrupted broadcast is an indication of the serious danger posed by the storms that are moving across our area.

Just a few minutes ago, 2-1/4" hail was reported in northwestern Christian County --and then golf-ball-size hail in Hopkins County. Now they are reporting a tornado on the ground near Morton's Gap in southern Hopkins County, near the intersection of the Pennyrile Parkway and the Western Kentucky Parkway.

Hurricane-force winds in Murray


Tonight's weather is just another episode in a series that began several days ago. Last night, high winds passed through Murray in Calloway County (KY). Gusts up to 100 mph were measured. Today, classes were cancelled at Murray State University (where our son Isaac is a student), due to the power outage and the many fallen trees on the roads and streets. I heard on the news that hundreds of trees are down in Calloway County.

Isaac sent me a link to a set of photos from Murray State News showing some of the damage on and around campus. He said that some cars on the campus parking lots had broken windows, perhaps from wind-borne debris or perhaps simply from the wind force. His car was OK.

My fast trip to Clarksville


I left work at 3:30 PM yesterday, with plans to run an errand in Clarksville. A raincloud was approaching, so I hurried to the gas station and then headed south out of town on the (new) Pennyrile Parkway.

In that short time, the raincloud became a huge black mass that was rapidly filling the sky. I turned on the radio, and to my dismay, I learned that I was driving right into a tornado warning for Fort Campbell and southern Christian County. A car with flashing red lights was stopped on the shoulder of the road, and two weather observers were watching the storm cloud. I thought about returning to Hopkinsville and going into a store, but I couldn't find a place to turn around. So I drove fast and managed to get southeast of the storm before it hit the Parkway. (This is not a safe thing to try!)

The storm was in Todd County when I took this photo.
I photographed the storm cloud from the mall parking lot in Clarksville. The storm was already in Todd County by then. When I drove through Todd County on my way home half an hour later, the storm was threatening Morgantown in the next county northeast.

This storm cloud produced a possible tornado near the Bradshaw road as it passed through southern Christian County. Some farm buildings in the area were damaged and trees were blown down.

UPDATE: Aircraft and facilities of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) at Fort Campbell were also damaged by storm winds. The extent of the damage was not included in the news release, but there were no injuries. I do not know if that damage was caused by the storm cloud I was racing or by another of the several storms that tracked across the area later that evening.

And it's raining.


During the last few minutes, heavy rain has begun again at our house. The ground is already saturated. Like most of western Kentucky, Christian County has a flash flood warning. Residents of Hopkinsville's low-lying areas are watching the Little River fearfully. Stormwater utility workers have been removing log jams from the river as they occur, to keep it flowing as freely as possible.

According to WHOP's website, "Christian County Emergency Management Director Randy Graham says the Storm Prediction Center is forecasting another seven inches of rain for Christian County before the week is done..."

The good news is that the cold front behind the severe weather will finally arrive sometime tomorrow. The temperature tomorrow night is supposed to be in the 40s. We are thankful that we haven't had any major damage so far in this series of storms. I hope that you have not suffered injury or property damage either!

The storm left Todd County before I got there.

This storm hit Dawson Springs this afternoon.
Related:
"Four Rivers Region Emergency Recovery Updates"

Friday, April 22, 2011

In the Meantime, Happy Easter!

Soon to return


Hello, everyone. You may have noticed I've been taking some time off from the blog. My son-in-law built a new, spiffy, fast computer for me, so I've been copying my files, moving them, and organizing them. For the first time in years, I'll have everything in one place. There are a great number of duplicate files, so this is a tedious process, but Windows 7 makes sorting them easier than I had expected.

I had a great victory mid-week when I finally got the new computer to connect to the internet via the wireless router. I learned on an internet forum that the anti-virus program was preventing the computer's network adapter from working. It seems this is a fairly common problem with Windows 7. I should have looked on the internet for answers earlier, instead of driving myself crazy trying to modify the settings.

I'll probably be back to normal blogging next week. Meanwhile, my best wishes to you and yours for a happy Easter!

Along a Christian County roadside

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Merchants of Ainsworth, Nebraska, 1912

Seen in old plat book of Brown County, Nebraska


Recently, I came across a 1912 plat book of Brown County, Nebraska. The original copy is held by the Library of Congress, and Ancestry.com has images of the pages.

Brown County, NE, Wikipedia image
In it, I found the locations of land that belonged to three sets of my ancestors (see endnote). They were all neighbors to each other in southwestern Brown County's Lakeland and Moon Lake precincts.

I recognized the names of many of their neighbors as people my dad knew. And I realized that I knew at least two of the 1912 landholders myself -- my great grandfather Charles Clark (who lived until 1972) and Jess McDaniel (whom I remember as an old man with white hair in the mid-1950s.)

My father, born in the Moon Lake area in 1923, had boyhood memories of going to Johnstown and Wood Lake with the wagon for supplies. These small villages west of Ainsworth were the closest settlements, and I think that's where my Mapes grand-uncle and my Hill, Fisher, and Clark grandparents would have gone for most supplies in 1912. Still, I am sure that they visited Ainsworth sometimes for legal matters, because Ainsworth was the county seat of Brown County.

Ainsworth probably seemed a large town to homesteaders. The platbook's images of Ainsworth show two-story commercial buildings and white frame houses with porches -- presumably the showiest structures in town.  (Scroll down about 2/3 of the way on this Brown County genealogy page for links to similar photos of Ainsworth in that era.)

As my ancestors drove down the dirt streets of Ainsworth in a horse-drawn wagon (prepared to haul home a load of supplies), they might have seen some of the following firms that advertised in the 1912 plat book:

Hotel and restaurant:
The Osborne House: "We have our own dairy, poultry and garden, and serve the best of everything. In winter, this is the warmest house in the northwest. Steam heat throughout. Meals are ready one hour before all trains. A large, well lighted sample room free. We want your business and will do our best to deserve it. Sportsmen's goods are cared for while you hunt or fish, without extra charge. If you can't stay all night, eat with us -- 'Every Little Bit Helps.'" Philip Mensinger, Prop.

Supplies for riding and driving horses
Sam Schneider & Son: "Harness, Saddlery Blankets, Robes, Whips, and other Horse Clothing and Leather Goods"

Three places to rent or board a horse:
Fisk Livery Feed & Sale Stable
Fry Bros. Livery and Feed Barn
S. B. Turner Proprietor, Livery, Feed, and Sale Barn. "Driver Furnished if desired."

Metal and Wheel Work
Henry Coad, Blacksmith and Wheelwright:  "Repairing a specialty"

Two dentists (I shudder to think!)
G.D. Shipherd, Dentist
Dr. J. M. Jessen, Dentist

Two newspapers
The Brown County Democrat: "A country newspaper, published where the corn and potatoes grow, in the heart of a rich agricultural district."
The Star Journal

Produce dealer
Ross Smith: "Buyer of Cream, Poultry, and Country Produce"

Two banks
Citizen's State Bank,
National Bank

Two auctioneers
Col J. H. Hart: "Many years of practical service in his line have demonstrated his ability. See him if you are thinking of having a sale."
Claude E. Smith: "Have you sold or rented your farm? That's your business. Are you going to have a sale? That's everybody's business. Do you need a good auctioneer? That's MY business."

Four Real Estate Agents
(It was not uncommon for people to homestead, gain title to their land after five years, and then sell it.)
Richardson & Suell, Real Estate & Insurance Agents
Geo. P. Reynolds, The Land Man
McSweeney Land Company
Northwestern Land Company

Wells
 (I notice that this fellow doesn't dig wells. He drills them.)
Thos. S. Bower, Well Drilling and Boring, Tanks, Pumps, and Supplies

Lawyers
A. W. Scattergood, Attorney at Law
Wm. M. Ely, Attorney at Law 

Modern technology
Ainsworth Telephone Company
Reeves & Bailey Automobiles

Two lumber yards and coal dealers
Krotter & Hall Lumber Co.: "Dealers in Building Materials, Coal, Hardware, Grain and Implement, Yards at Long Pine, Johnstown, Crookston, Georgia, and Merriman." (These little towns were east and west of Ainsworth on the railroad.)
Excelsior Lumber Co.: "Lumber, Coal, Flour, Feed, Grain, Agricultural Implements, Buggies, and Farm Wagons. Roller Mill and Elevators."

Building contractors and subcontractors:
W. E. Moseley, Building Contractor
L. P. Barnes Concrete: "Sidewalks, Porches, Doors, Door and Window Caps and Sills, Foundations"

Shopping:
Munson & Howe General Merchandise
Baldwin Brothers: "Hardware, Paints, Oils, Furniture, Carpets, Rugs"
H. House & Son: "Fine Furniture"
Suell & House Clothing
Larson & Son: "Merchant Tailors"

Note:
I usually say that my ancestors had ranches in southwestern Brown County, because the Sandhill land was much better for grazing, than it was for farming. One of them is officially listed as a "stockman" in the back of the 1912 plat book. However, if my ancestors homesteaded under the original Homestead Act, they were required to farm (to plow and plant) a portion of the land. I have found the homestead papers for the Clark and Hill grandparents and the Mapes great-uncle, but not the Fisher grandparents. I have not researched what homestead requirements any of them had to meet.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Elusive Lucinda Martin

Born 1844, Ohio, married Almus Hill, 1865


My great-great grandmother Lucinda Martin (born in 1844 in Ohio, and married about 1865 to Almus Hill of Ohio) is one of the great mysteries of my family tree. She is the grandmother of every Hill who is my relative, but her ancestry is virtually unknown.

As I tried to learn more about Lucinda Martin Hill, two facts troubled me
  1. Lucinda stated on three Federal censuses that she was born in Ohio. 
  2. However, most Hill family trees on the internet cite Joseph Martin and Jane (Rager) Martin of Todd County, Kentucky, as Lucinda's parents.  (Yes, Todd County, Kentucky -- the very next county east of where I happen to live!)

Sometimes the branches are hard to trace!
Image source /License/Copyright: Nevit Dilmen
It is true that Joseph and Jane Martin of Todd County, KY,  had a daughter named Lucinda Martin. She was born the same year that my grandmother Lucinda was born.

It is also true that some of the Kentucky Martins have a reputation for moving around. They moved to Ohio, moved back to Kentucky, moved to Tennessee, then back to Kentucky, then Texas, and so on. On genealogy forums,  I read claims that some of the Martins were practically nomadic.

I mentioned to a customer at work that I'd been working on my family history, and she said, "I do genealogy, too! What families?" I explained that I didn't have any local family connections except maybe some Martins, and she said, "Oh, my goodness, they're in my family tree, and they're so confusing! That bunch was always moving around."

So, despite my initial doubt, I began to wonder if maybe Lucinda Martin of Todd County really was my great-great-grandmother. Maybe, I thought, maybe Joseph and Jane Martin had moved briefly to Ohio, and Lucinda had been born there.

Well, it turns out that it doesn't matter (to me) whether Joseph and Jane Martin ever lived in Ohio because their daughter Lucinda Martin was not my great-great grandmother. How can I say that with such confidence? Here are the census records I found for the Kentucky Lucinda Martin when I got serious about searching.

1850 U.S. Federal Census
Name: Lucinda Martin
Age in 1850: 6
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1844
Birthplace: Kentucky
Home in 1850: District 1, Todd Co., Kentucky
Family Number: 94
Household Members and Their Ages:
Joseph Martin 61
Jane Martin 30
Thomas Martin 9
Joseph Martin 7
Lucinda Martin 6
Mary Martin 3
Miranda Martin 1
1860 U.S. Federal Census
Name: Lucinda Martin
Age in 1860: 16
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1844
Birthplace: Kentucky
Home in 1860: Todd Co., Kentucky
Post Office: Elkton
Household Members and Their Ages:
Joseph Martin 69
Jane Martin 45
Joseph Martin 18
Lucinda Martin 16
Mary Martin 14
Buck Martin 5

Now remember -- my great-great-grandmother Lucinda Martin married Almus Hill in 1865. Here's the 1870 census data for the Kentucky Lucinda Martin (left) and the 1870 census data for my great-great-grandmother Lucinda Martin Hill (right):

1870 U.S. Federal Census
Name: Lucinda Martin
Birth Year: abt 1844
Age in 1870: 26
Birthplace: Kentucky
Home in 1870: Kirkmansville, Todd, Kentucky
Race: White
Gender: Female
Household Members and Their Ages:
Jane Martin 56
Lucinda Martin 26
Mary J Martin 24
Robert A Martin 7
Hester Martin 6
Jeff Martin 3
Martin 3/12
1870 U.S. Federal Census
Name: Lucinda Hill
Birth Year: abt 1844
Age in 1870: 26
Birthplace: Ohio
Home in 1870: Galion, Crawford, Ohio
Race: White
Gender: Female
Household Members and Their Ages:
Almus Hill 27
Lucinda Hill 26
E Isadora Hill 4
Sidney K Hill 3
Effa J Hill 1

That proves (to me) that Lucinda, daughter of Jane Rager and Joseph Martin, is not my great-great-grandmother, but it leaves the question of where Lucinda Martin, wife of Almus Hill, did come from. I think this may have been her family:

1860 U.S. Federal Census
Name: Lucinda Martin
Age in 1860: 16
Birth Year: abt 1844
Birthplace: Ohio
Home in 1860: Hanover, Ashland, Ohio
Gender: Female
Post Office: Loudonville
Household Members and Their Ages:
Isaac Martin 59
Lucinda Martin 16
Margaret Martin 11
Ephraim Martin 7
Harrison Martin 6

So far, I haven't found this family either before or after 1860. I don't know where they came from or where they went. The one clue I've found is that an Ephraim Martin was living in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1895, and he seems to have been a bachelor, living at a boarding house.

And I could be completely wrong. This Lucinda Martin and her brother Ephraim may not be related to me at all.

Family trees have an endless supply of mysteries like this. They are the ultimate puzzle. It makes genealogy very addictive to a certain sort of person -- and I am one of that sort, it seems.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Bad Storm in Christian County, KY

High winds, heavy rain


A bad storm passed through Christian County (KY) today. We had several hours of high winds and heavy rain. A factory between Hopkinsville and Pembroke was badly damaged (apparently by a tornado), and farmers in the adjacent area reported damage to buildings. Residents of Pembroke and Lacy in Christian County also had storm damage, including a tree that fell on a mobile home.

I heard on the radio that 180 workers were in the TGASK building when it was hit. Seven people were injured badly enough that they went to the hospital, but no one was in serious condition. The wind took off part of the front of the building, ripped off the roof, and blew through the back of the building, according to the radio report. Debris was scattered for a wide area.

Along the highway in front of the plant, half-a-dozen or more wooden electrical poles were snapped in half, and several steel poles were bent double. Electrical wires were on the ground, causing power outages in the Pembroke area.

I was at work while all this was taking place. Except for the weather, it was a very boring morning because we had almost no customers.

Squall after squall rolled over us. At one point, big waves of water were scooting across the parking lot like whitecaps on a lake.  The electricity went out for about a minute, then flickered several more times. I suppose that was when the tornado hit TGASK.

When Dennis got home from work, he called to tell me that everything at our house was OK.  No big tree limbs had fallen, our animals were all safe, and the electricity was still working. That was good news.

More about the storms in this region:

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Red Barn

Spring and fall views



It's a rare day when I drive past this barn without thinking about taking its picture.  I took the photo above a few days ago, and I took the photo below in the fall of 2009. It looks like part of the barn may have been repainted since the first picture -- or maybe the light was just different.

The fall view is my favorite of these two photos. The sky is much more dramatic, and the background is deeper and more interesting.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Freddy The Pig, Rediscovered

Found at Florence, KY


When we took Isaac to the Cincinnati airport last summer, we discovered Half Price Books, a great bookstore in Florence, KY. We revisited the store on our way to Cleveland a few weeks ago.

Isaac sold a few used books and bought at least twice as many as he sold. I bought a couple of books for Dennis, and for myself, a copy of The Art of Freddy. It was well worth the $2 it cost, just for the memories.

Freddy and me


The Freddy series was written by Walter Brooks and illustrated by Kurt Wiese. Freddy is a pig. He and all the other animals on Mr. Bean's farm can talk. They are very good at solving mysteries and getting into complicated, dangerous situations that always turn out all right in the end.

There are 26 Freddy books (I know this from counting the book covers shown in The Art of Freddy, and Wikipedia verifies it.) I think the Rock County library had 15 or 20 of them when I was a kid, and I read every one.

I read Freddy's Perilous Adventure, dozens of time, because we owned it. It was a library book originally. I left it on the windowsill, and a summer thunderstorm soaked it. The cover was warped and the pages were wavy, so my mother had to pay the library for the book.

Freddy's Perilous Adventure was my main book for the rest of that summer, along with whatever I could find around the house to read, because I was grounded from the library. I was glad when I got back to school and the bookmobile! I liked Freddy and his animal friends, but I was ready for them to have a different adventure.

They're still adventuring!


Isaac was still shopping, so I enjoyed the illustrations in my Freddy book for a while. Then I walked out of the store to put my books in the car. After getting reacquainted with Freddy and his friends, it was a bit surreal to see these geese strolling across the parking lot. I wouldn't have been surprised at all if they had wished me a good afternoon or asked for directions.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.