Monday, August 30, 2010

A small piece of history

In the papers of Granny Ewen there was folded a small piece of history. It appears to be a page from her Howell's family Bible. (Her mother's maiden name.) On one side the page was labeled "Births". On the back side, the page was labeled "Marriages". The first name listed was Thomas J. Howel, February the 17th, 1840. The second name listed was Mary Ann Lamerson, April the 1st 1836. Wow I thought...1836...that was 174 years ago. The first marriage listed was Thomas J. Howel and Mary Ann Lamerson, February the 23th 1860. They were married just at the start of the Civil War, and were the grandparents of Granny Ewen through her maternal side. It was written in their very own hand writing, beautifully done. Another family treasure is shown.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Family Treasure

The photo to the right shows a family treasure. It was found among my Granny Ewen's papers. It is a marriage certificate dated 21 March 1918. It is titled: "Certificate of Person Performing Marriage Ceremony". It was to be delivered to "Parties Married". It reads:

"I James W Harding a Minister of the Gospel of the Church of Christ do certify that on the 21st day of March 1918, at Winchester Kentucky, under authority of a license issued by H C Skinner Clerk of County Court of Winchester Clark County, State of Kentucky, dated 21st day of March 1918, I united Sidney B Ewen and Stella Morton as Husband and Wife, in the presence of Mabel Harding and Thomas Townsend.

Given under my hand, this 21st day of March, 1918.

James W Harding"

What a family treasure.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ups and Downs

Living in Winchester, KY during the 1950's and 60's had its ups and downs. Going up and down the stairs to the basement at 25 Vine Street was one. Getting up and down from the couch watching Superman, Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, and Alford Hitchcock on our black and white T.V. was another. Up and down from the bunk bed endlessly, day in and day out, night in and night out. Playing up and down Vine Street during those school free summer months was always another exciting one. Traveling up and down Broadway to Jackson Street to visit Mam maw and Pap paw was a favorite. Running up and down our neighbors fence line as those black dragons huffed, and puffed, and steamed their way into my memory was a ear full. Walking up and down High Street to Hickman Street school where the old junk yard offered many hours of activity was a creative one. Climbing up and down on the stockyard fences to get a good look at the passing cows, horses, sheep, and sometimes pigs was always a nose full. Sneaking up and down the steps to the third floor boys bathroom to check out the latest educational drawings on the wooden stalls was always an eye full. Moving my special cup up and down from the table and sharing the cinnamon toast as family stories were told, was a special one. On and on it goes, up and down it goes. Yes, my early life living in Winchester, KY certainly had its ups and downs. They filled my senses with wonder... my eyes, my nose, my ears, my touch, and even my taste.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Red Rosebuds

Yesterday was spent with Mother and Dad going through some family items. Mother opened a box which she had placed in the closet containing her mother's special belongings. In this box was Granny Ewen's Bible. In this Bible, Granny had placed all sorts of papers including her and granddad's 1918 marriage certificate. There were notes about family members, family records of birth, deaths, marriages, pictures, and many newspaper clippings. She also had a four leaf clover folded among the pages. One of these newspaper clippings reads:

"Ewen-Jones Vows Said In Lovely Home Ceremony"

"Miss Myrna Jean Ewen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S.B. Ewen, Sr., became the
bride of Mr. Henry Edward Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler Jones, all of
Winchester, in an impressive ceremony solemnized at 6:30 o'clock Saturday
evening at the home of the bride's parents on Holly avenue.
The Rev. W.L. Hampton officiated at the double ring ceremony said before
the living room fireplace, beautifully decorated with snapdragons and orange
blossoms which also were used throughout the house.
Given in marriage by her father, the bride wore a white silk dress with
black accessories and her only ornament was a pearl necklace. Her shoulder
corsage was of red rosebuds.
Mrs. S.B. Ewen, Jr., sister-in-law of the bride, was matron of honor. She
wore a black gabardine suit with matching accessories and a shoulder corsage
of red rosebuds.
Mr. S.B. Ewen, Jr., brother of the bride, served as best man.
Mrs. Ewen chose for her daughter's wedding a black crepe dress with
matching accessories and her corsage was of gardenias. Mrs. Jones, mother of
the bridegroom, wore a blue gabardine suit with black accessories and corsage
of gardenias.
Attending the wedding were members of the immediate families.
Following the ceremony, a reception was held. Spring flowers were used as
decorations, and the bride's table, covered with an embroidered cloth."

Mother and Dad were married May 8, 1948.

Imagine this. Granny Ewen lived to be 96 years old. She carried this wedding announcement in her Bible for more than 46 years. She must have been praying for us all these years.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mam maw's Coffee Cup

Having coffee and cinnamon toast with Mam maw Jones was the main source for many of my JONES family stories. The coffee cup she would place before me was truly unique. It was blue on a white background, and seemed to be telling a story. Starting at the place where the handle of the cup inserts, there was depicted, a small, single story house, like a poor man's house. From this little house, crossing an arched bridge, three small figures appeared to be heading to a much larger land mass. This land mass spread around the rest of the cup, above a fancy looking fence that seemed to dance in the foreground. Turning the cup, you left the three fellows and passed under two birds that appeared to be kissing. (I never quite figured out what they were doing in my story). The figures appeared to be carrying tools over their shoulders, but for many years I thought the last little fellow had a knapsack strung over his. In the watery background was a small ship which I thought must have brought these guys to shore from a land far far away. On along, there was a funny looking tree with what appeared to be feathers as branches. It was not like any cherry, apple, pear, or walnut tree that I had ever seen. Next there were two fancy looking three-story houses with funny caps and shapes along the roof line. These houses had multiple trees and small hills surrounding them giving the impression that this was certainly the place you would want to be if you lived in this cup.

The most amazing thing was that when you tilted the cup up to drink, the two big houses appeared on the inside of the cup. The funny looking tree was there too. I could look on the outside and the inside, and see the story. Wow, who ever thought of drawing inside a cup? The rim of the cup was bordered by some sort of mysterious shapes and markings. Another doodler I thought. My kind of cup.

The stories still come through this cup. To Mam maw I am thankful for the coffee and toast...and to being sworn to secrecy, that is all I can say.

For an account of my coffee and toast see the blog: Sworn to Secrecy. The above picture is of this cup and the memories it still contains.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Sod Rest Lightly

This is the face that greeted me in my Granny Ewen's closet that day so many years ago. It hangs above my mantel to remind me of the heritage that is mine. See "50 Years of Genealogy" in the archive that tells this story.

George Washington Ewen was born March 10, 1858 in Powell Co., KY. He was a horse riding physician in the mountains that surround Natural Bridge State Park, KY. His obituary reads:

"Dr. G.W. Ewen, son of J.R. and Eliza Ewen, was born March 10, 1858 and died July
15th, 1906 at his home near Dundee of bright's disease. The sudden parting of all
earthy ties is hard to bear, and when hearts have been tightly knit in bonds of
loving companionship and closest affection, it is doubly hard. His funeral was
conducted at the home by Revs. Adams and Wright, of the Christian Church, of which
he had been a member 29 years. He had been a Mason 11 years and was a member of
Campton I.O.O.F. of which both fraternities took part in bearing the remains to
its last resting place. Dr. Ewen was a good and generous, big-hearted man, ever
ready to administer to those who were weaker than he. The widow who survives him loses a faithful and affectionate husband; the children a kind and loving parent; the community a citizen of integrity and great moral worth. May the sod rest lightly on his honest breast, and his gentile spirit bask in the sunshine of an eternal Spring."

Taken from the Clay City Times, July 26, 1906.

Our family story was that G.W. was riding to a house call and managed to cut his leg on a new contraption call barbed-wire. Having diabetes (called Bright's disease in his day,)he developed gangrene, needed his leg amputated, and died following this procedure. I have not been able to document any of this story, but I suspect that it is correct. Certainly, the soil rests lightly on his honest breast.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Super Heroes

Black and White T.V. introduced me to my first super heroes. Mighty Mouse on Saturday mornings..."Here I come to save the day"..., and Superman weekly..."able to leap tall building in a single bound". George Reeves played Superman and I was his side kick. Using a towel pinned around my neck to fly, I would imagine all kinds of adventures. Here a bad guy, there a bad guy. I was fighting for truth and the American way. Occasionally jumping from my bunk bed, I would fly, even if for a brief moment.

News came that Superman was going to be at our state fair the summer of 1959. Man what excitement this produced in my bunk bed jumping. Noting my jubilation, mom and dad agreed to take me to the fair. That summer, the fair was going to be in Louisville, Kentucky some two hours by car from our home. I was going to see Superman in person. Each day I would sharpen my Superman skills, fighting robbers, crooks, thieves, and many more bad guys. I was getting ready to see Superman live.

On June 16, 1959, word came via Black and White T.V., that Superman had committed suicide. What, Superman can't die. No...this didn't happen...I am going to see Superman at the state fair. Let's go...let's go.

We did attend the state fair in 1959. Pat Boone replaced Superman, but it was not the same to me. Super Heroes don't die...or do they?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Alive It's Alive

Since starting this blog, I have had a number of immediate family members contact me and comment. We shared the memories and some laughter. I have encouraged each to comment on the blog site, but so far no takers. Come on you all.

My heart was encouraged by a recent trip my wife, parents, and I made to visit our three daughters in Nashville, TN. It was my youngest daughter's 30th birthday and we had gathered to celebrate this rite of passage. My mom and my oldest grandson were sharing stories. It was not long before the "Blue Racer" story emerged. Before my mom was able to finish her version, my 4 year old grandson completed the story. Our oldest daughter had been reading the blogs to my grandson. Our family stories live on I thought. What joy. [see Blog Archive "The Blue Racer"]

The above photo is grandpa and my grandson Sam having a meeting of the mind.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nada cemetery

It has taken some time to figure out how to post pictures. Here is my first try. The pictures are from the Nada cemetery that shows George Washington Ewen and Susan Ewen (nee Cole)graves.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dirty Books

When time and circumstances would allow, my father and I would share this tree climbing adventure. We traveled to Richmond, Virginia to investigate the records there. We traveled to Caroline Co., Spotsylvania Co., Culpeper Co., Fredericksburg,
all in Virginia. We explored libraries, courthouses, archives, museums, and cemeteries. However, it was when Dad did his own tree climbing that he had the most success!

I was always amazed how he seemed to find just what we needed, when we needed it, and would seem to solve the brick wall that we faced! When our brick wall was W.C. Jones (Who was W.C's father?), Dad found a file hidden in the stacks of papers, in back of a filing cabinet, in our Winchester library. A previous relative had already answered this question and provided the link to our Thomas Jones. Where was our Nicholas buried? Dad made a trip to the court house in Bartholemew Co., IN. Here he entered the county clerk's office, at random, to ask if anyone knew about a Revolutionary War veteran that was supposed to be buried in a place called Flatrock Township. The lady in the office not only knew about our Nicholas, but she owned the very farm where Nicholas rested! She then took my father to the grave site; and we have pictures and dates, and other family information as a result. On and on it goes. Wow I thought, how do you do this?

I finally asked Dad what was his secret was concerning genealogy. His response was "dirty books"!---Dirty books? What do you mean?---He explained to me that whenever he entered a library, courthouse, or archives, he always sought the books that no one else looked at, or that appeared the oldest, or the dustiest, or dirtiest! Find the dirty books he said.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank You

The teachers and students of Hickman Street School were many. Just how many will never be known. I would guess that for each year there would be at least one class each per grades one through seven. Thus for my family's lifetime, roughly 1910 to 1960, there would have been somewhere around 50 X 7 = 350 teachers. Assuming approximately 25 students per class there would be 50 X 7 X 25 = 8750 students who passed through the hallways and sat in the classrooms. What did they do with their lives? What impact did the teachers have shaping and molding these lives?

I still recall the names of all my teachers. Let's see: Mrs. Williams (1st grade), Mrs. Stevens (2nd grade), Mrs. Scott (3rd grade), Mrs. Walden (4th grade), Mrs. Gravett (5th grade), Mrs. Ragland (6th grade), and Mrs. Culton (7th grade). I never got to thank these teachers face to face, for what they contributed to my life growing up in those hallways of Hickman Street School. By now, they all are gone to that great schoolhouse in the sky. Thank you for sharing your lives with me. Thank you for helping me learn, and learn how to sit still, and learn how to grow. Thank you, the teachers of Hickman Street School.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tips for tree climbing

For those who might have an interest in learning some tips on doing genealogy see my posts under It is intended to help those tree climbers to look at things a little differently.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blow the dust off.

Hickman Street School has been demolished, lost to the dust of the mind. Having spent seven years of my life in this architectural wonder, the dust of my mind can be easily blown off to reveal the memory. Not much of this three story, U-shaped, red brick monster escaped my exploration!

My grandmother Jones (Mam maw), Dad, Uncles Eugene, Gale, aunts Thelma, Linda, my older brother Henry, and his wife Marcia all attended Hickman Street School. Of course Mam maw would have started around 1910. Dad and Thelma would have attended early 1930s. Uncles Gene and Gale, and aunt Linda in the 1940s. My brother, Marcia, and yours truly would have stared mid-1950s. That's more than half a century that my Jones family wandered around this behemoth. By the time my brother and I started, the buzz was that Hickman School was condemned and would soon be torn down. It lasted at least twenty more years!

As you faced Hickman Street School from Hickman Street, you faced four tall, white Corinthian columns that guarded the front entrance. This elevated to a rectangular pediment that extended above the third floor windows. These large, third story windows gave the principal a commanding view to the front, and to all those who past through two very large front doors. Not that I spent a lot of time in the principal's office.

The school must have been built in three phases. The left arm of the U-shaped structure was the oldest, with wide 8 - 12 inch floor boards and an ancient stairway that made all sorts of squeaks, rattles, and moans when walking up and down to the third floor. An arched double door faced to the inside court with a large stone arch frame. I suspected this section was built much before 1910.

The front entrance and classrooms must have been the second phase, where a large atrium with bulletin boards, glass cases, and a multiple-step stairway that had those fancy brass edges that were to keep you from slipping and falling.

The right side of the U-shaped building was the latest addition with narrow wooden floors, smaller windows, and a basement with tiled floors. The basement with the tiled floors housed the first and second grades. You then moved up to the second floor for the third grade. Forth and fifth grades were in the oldest part of the building. These huge rooms had tall windows, and a never ending set of black boards that I frequently had to write upon after school stating "I will not..." for what ever it was that day. The sixth grade was in the middle part, and finally, the seventh grade was located on the third floor. My sex education class was the third floor boy's restroom, where wooden stalls were carved with all sorts of education.

Hickman Street School is now gone forever. Mam maw had a copy of the newspaper article which pictured the "RAZING OF" old Hickman School dated February 1974. A new office building with drive-up facilities and parking area was to be constructed on the site. "Walls Come Down" the picture is titled, but it only takes a second to blow the dust off.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Glass Eye

Perplexed was I. What was a glass eye doing in Pap paw's night stand? I would have to put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and investigate this further.

My first step was to examine Pap paw's face in a new light. I had always assumed that the closed eye lids on the right side were due to his stroke. It was not hard to get a closer examination since no sight was possible on his right side. The eye socket was slightly deformed and the lids retracted somewhat. There were small scars on the right jaw area. The right orbit was deformed and it became evident that something more had happened to Pap paw's face besides a stroke.

My second step was to broach the topic with Mam maw over our coffee and toast. What happened to Pap paw's face, I asked? Dynamite blew up in his face a long time ago, came the reply. Dynamite! What was Pap paw doing playing with dynamite? What?!!, I asked? At this point it became evident that Mam maw did not want to talk about it. I had learned to leave well enough alone when she appeared to lock her memories up like Fort Knox locked up its gold.

My third step was to ask dad. How did dynamite and Pap paw come together. Dad said that Pap paw had an accident while working for the phone company. Some dynamite had gone off in his face. Dad could only remember that this happened before he had started first grade, and did not know much about the accident. Let's see,...hum... before first grade...1926 plus 6 would place the accident before 1932. I wondered if the court house would have a record?

Exploring the last room to the left, there were numerous gray files with dates posted on the outside. Where do you start? 1930 I thought. Opening the file drawer labeled 1930, I faced a hundred or more folded papers with a name and date on each. They were not in order or arranged in any useful way. Man, this was not going to work!

Over the years I would remember Pap paw's glass eye, and wonder how one might go about investigating this further. It was not until both Pap paw and Mam maw died that I found a newspaper article which had been tucked among other papers, clip from a unknown source without a date. It was titled:


" J.W. Jones Suit In Clark Circuit Court For Allege Permanent Injuries "

The body of the article as written:

"A suit asking $20,000 damages was filed in Clark County Circuit Court, by J.W. Jones against the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, charging negligence on the part of the company for injuries which he sustained while in their employment.
In his petition, the plaintiff stated that the defendant negligently blasted holes in the ground during the drilling process in such a manner that all of the dynamite placed in the ground did not explode, and that when he, without knowledge that it did not explode, undertook to drill the holes that had been shot, the unexploded dynamite was set off causing him permanent injury to one of his eyes. The plaintiff further alleged that due to the injuries and loss of time from work, he was damaged to the extent of $20,000 which sum he asks and all proper costs."

For the first time in my life, I understood Pap paw's glass eye. He would have worn it after he recovered from the dynamite explosion. He seems to have recovered well enough to obtain an "Operator's License" dated July 26, 1954. The "Color of Eyes" was listed "Blue", "Color of Hair" was listed "Lt.", "Height" was listed 5 ft. 8 in., and "Weight" was listed as 160. His signature was written clearly and beautifully "J.W. Jones". For the first time I saw Pap paw in new light. What a man! Courage, grit, determination, hard work...John Wayne would have nothing over Pap paw. I saw Pap pap anew through his glass eye, Joseph Wheeler Jones, 1898 - 1972.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A New Mystery

Exploration was my middle name. Well actually it was Edward, but exploration would have fit in 1959. Having completed my tour of Mam maw's and Pap paw's parlor, I would move on to the bedroom. Now this was really Pap paw's room. It was where he literally spent his life, due to his stroke. His chair set angled out from the wall where his crutches stood. There was a T.V. tray next to his chair where Mam maw often left crackers, a glass of milk, and his bag of black lickerish sticks. To the right stood an end table that sat between his chair and the large, four-poster bed. My exploration was often curtailed in this room, due to the fact that Pap paw was there, and frequently other family members were visiting, at anyone time. These facts made it much more difficult to examine the territory.

It so happened that one day as Pap paw and I were alone in his room, he had to go to the bathroom. He would maneuver his crutch under his left arm, raise from his chair, and negotiate a passage to the bathroom. The timing was now perfect for me to explore the bedside table that, to this point, had been pretty much neglected by my determined examination.

The table was magazine rack, pharmacy, hair dresser, post office, message board, candy store, bank, storage rack, and the many other things that came in handy just getting up in the morning and going to bed in the evening. There were combs, hair brushes, make-up containers, lip stick, hand mirror, top value stamps, coins, notes, and candy. You get the picture. There was one drawer at the top that beckoned to be opened, and who was I to deny that Siren's call.

The top drawer had a single nob that could be used to open this lightly packed space. My eye came to a blue box which had gold lettering on the top. The box was almost shaped as a cube; and it was somewhat heavy as I began to raise the lid. To my astonishment it contained an eye! Almost dropping the box, at first, I thought, what in the world?! What did Pap paw do to have an eye in his bedside table? Knowing my anatomy now, the pupil was round and jet black. This was surrounded by a light blue iris (the color part of the eye)that reflected the rooms light perfectly. The iris was surrounded by a sea of white. I touched the white part and it felt like glass! A glass eye! Golly gee! Returning the box to its rightful resting place, I closed the drawer and quickly returned to my sitting position on the bed. A glass eye, a glass mind raced through the possibilities. A pirate placed it, no. Part of a Halloween,no. Murder...surely not. But why? As Pap paw returned from the bathroom, my determination to solve this new mystery began.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Curiosity, Imagination, and Exploration

Curiosity and imagination occupied much of my time and space as a nine year old growing up in Winchester, Kentucky. Exploration, added to the previous items, would certainly offer many unusual discoveries. Mam maw's and Pap paw's house on Jackson Street was a major focal point of my exploration.

Starting at the player piano, there would be two wooden doors that opened to a metal cylinder with hundreds of tiny projections forming unusual geometric patterns. Next was the three-legged piano stool that had a round, wooden seat that could be spun higher and higher, but never seemed to fly off in space. The large green couch was next which became a swing bridge over a deep gully that only the bravest could cross, careful not to fall into the abyss below! After navigating the swing bridge, you came to Mam maw's Singer Sewing Machine. What an amazing piece of engineering! A large black iron foot piece (I called the gas petal) moved up and down to produce a spinning motion to a round wheel on the right. The round wheel was connected to the gas petal by a brown leather cord bound tightly to its side, which then moved a metal needle up and down on the flat surface. The faster you pedaled, the faster the needle moved up and down. The drawers, three on each side, contained the most amazing group of objects including a drawer full of small, metal caps that fit over the tips of your fingers; a small, stuffed, red pillow stuck with hundreds of needles(Ouch!); strips of different colored cloth; small pencils; various-sized larger needles with funny hooks on them; and many, many other funny looking things that must had hooked on to the sewing machine somehow. Wow! Who would have thought that you could step on a metal platform near the floor and move a needle on the table above. What would man come up with next?