Sunday, August 28, 2011

Adele Capet, Princess of France

In the summer of 2011 we were driving in Southern Belgium in the area known as Flanders where many battles had taken place in World War I. We were driving with no particular destination. We followed signs as we saw them to battlefields and allied gravesites. Sometimes we would see a large church steeple on the horizon and we would drive over and check it out. As we were driving north we noticed a lovely church sitting on a small hill and we decided to take a look. We drove off the motorway onto a small country road that lead us to the village of Mesen or Messines. The church was even larger than it looked from the motorway. We parked the car and got out to take a look. The outer door was not locked so we went into the small foyer but no matter how hard we pulled and pushed we could not get the inner door to open. We walked back outside and walked around the grounds and took several photos of the church. Off to one side was an information sign that told us this was the Church of Saint Nicholas and there was a crypt that contained the grave of Adele, Countess of Flanders. I was surprised, to say the least. I had read about Adele because she was an ancestor of mine. I knew she was buried in Belgium but I could not locate exactly where. I had learned that her husband, Baldwin V, Count of Flanders was buried in a crypt in Lille, France. We had gone on a quest to find his grave and learned at the Office of Tourism in Lille that he was buried in a crypt that was located under the Palace of Justice in Lille. It seems there had been a church on the site but it had been destroyed in WW I and never rebuilt and the Palace of Justice was later built on the site. The crypt was accessible but was not open to the public. We had been disappointed but we carried on. Now we had stumbled on the site of his wife’s grave but couldn’t get into the church to see it. About that time a jogger came by and went up the steps to the church, went into the foyer and did not come out. I told Sylvia what I had seen so we went in again and this time when we pulled on the door into the Church it came open. The jogger left as we went in and we were left alone in the Church. Sylvia began taking photos and I wandered about. Sylvia was in a side chapel on the left and I went into one on the right. As I was looking at the wall hangings and the Alter I saw a door with the word crypt lettered at the top of the door way. The door was open and I could see a stairway going down into the basement of the church. Wow! Was I excited!

I called out to Sylvia and she joined me and we discussed whether we should go down or not. The lights had come on as I walked up to the door so we decided to go see what was there. I was surprised that Sylvia was going down into the crypt and that she was leading the way. For several years she has suffered from claustrophobia and has avoided small enclosed spaces.

But here we went - down several flights of stairs. The deeper we went the more odoriferous it became. It was a damp, rotten smell. We reached the bottom and went into the crypt itself and there in the center of the floor was Adele’s grave. There were statues located around the space and some pieces of stonework that were probably from the original church that had stood on the spot and then been destroyed during WW I.

I could hardly take it in. I was standing on a site that dated back to the eleventh century. Adele had died and been buried here in 1079. We talked in amazement at how serendipity had brought us here to this place. After some time had passed and Sylvia had taken a bunch of photos we turned to retrace our steps up the stairway.

Just as we turned to go into the hallway that lead to the base of the steps, the lights went out! It is surprising the number of thoughts that can go through your mind in a short space of time. I immediately thought “we are all alone in this church, no one knows we are here; I can find the steps and we can make our way up to the top but what if the door is locked; oh, yes, the lights are on motion detectors and we have been here so long they just went off because we had stood still for so long” and sure enough when I moved towards the steps, the lights came back on. What a relief. And what an awesome experience.
Here is some information I have found about Adele and the Saint Nicholas Church:
Adela Capet, Adèle of France, Adela of Flanders, Adela the Holy or Adela of Messines is one of my 28th great grandmothers. She was born in 1009 in Nevers, Nivre Department, Burgundy Region, France and died 8 Jan 1079 in Messines Benedictine Monastery, Messines (Mesen), West Flanders, Belgium. She was the second daughter of Robert, the Pious and Constance of Arles the King and Queen of France. As dowry to her future husband, she received from her father the title of Countess of Corbie. She was betrothed to her future husband at a very young age, in fact, she was carried to the betrothal ceremony in her baby bed. In 1028 at the age of 19 she was married to Baldwin V of Flanders (1012 † 1067) in Amiens. Their children were:
Baldwin VI of Flanders , (1030 † 1070)
Matilda of Flanders (1032 † 1083). In 1053 she married William Duke of Normandy , the future king of England
Robert I of Flanders , (1033-1093)
Henry of Flanders (c. 1035)
Sir Richard of Flanders (c. 1050-1105)
Adèle's political influence lay mainly in her family connections. On the death of her brother, Henry I of France, the guardianship of his seven-year-old son Philip I fell jointly on his widow, Ann of Kiev , and on his brother-in-law, Adela's husband, so that from 1060 to 1067, they were Regents of France.

Adèle had an especially great interest in Baldwin V’s church-reform politics and was behind her husband’s founding of several collegiate churches. Directly or indirectly, she was responsible for establishing the Colleges of Aire (1049), Lille (1050) and Harelbeke (1064) as well as the abbeys of Messines (1057) and Ename (1063). In 1057, Countess Adèle founded a Benedictine abbey for noble ladies. The abbey was transformed into a royal Institute by Empress Maria-Theresa (1745-1780) in 1776. After Baldwin’s death in 1067, she went to Rome, took the nun’s veil from the hands of Pope Alexander II and retreated to the Benedictine convent of Messines. There she died, being buried at the same monastery. Her commemoration day is 8 September.
Like the village of Mesen, the abbey was completely destroyed during the First World War. The crypt, located under the choir of the St. Nicholas abbey-church, was used as headquarters by the German staff, and has been preserved, as well as Adèle's grave. The church was rebuilt in 1928 exactly as it was before the war. It is lit by a big brass chandelier and wall lights made and donated to the church by Otto Meyer, a German veteran of the battle of Mesen.

Saint Nicholas Church (Mesen)
Originally the Benedictine abbey church of Our Lady leaning property and other abbey buildings.
After the abolition of the abbey in 1176 elevated to parish.
The church, with its domed tower, can be seen from miles away. The building was restored to its pre-war state in 1928. This church originally served as an abbey church for the convent of Saint Benedict and was erected by countess Adela of France. The church is adorned with a magnificent chandelier (1,94 metres wide) in yellow copper and many wall lights, designed for and given to the church by Otto Meyer, a German veteran who survived the battle of Messines.
The Crypt
This 11th century roman crypt is the only monument in Messines that is officially classified and protected. Countess Adela was buried here on 8th January 1079. She was the daughter of the French King Robert the Pious, wife of Baldwin V (Count of Flanders), mother of the English Queen Mathilda and thus "ancestress" of the British Royal Family. The crypt, where the Germans installed their headquarters, was restored in 1931 in its original state after the devastations of World War I.
The Peace Carillon
The carillon in the church tower has 59 bells. The first bell of peace (weighs more than 280 pounds) was inaugurated on 17th May 1985 in Ypres by Pope John Paul II. The carillon can be heard every 15 minutes, ringing out hymns from the nations that took part in World War I.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bill Blimes Sr.'s Story as Written by him (My Dad)

In this picture-Harry Blimes & Mearl Edna Tolliver, parents of Bill Blimes Sr.

I was born 21 or 22 of November, 1921. The notation on the original birth certificate said midnight. My father always claimed one day and my mother the other.

My father was hurt in a coal mine in 1925. He was in the hospital for a year and was a semi-invalid after this. He was caught in a cave-in when shoring timbers gave way. He was lucky to get out alive.

At the time of my birth, my mother had been a member of the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) for about eight years. Even though I was born into the church, so to speak, I never had any contact with the church, only through the missionaries who would come through our area once a year. They would stay for a few days or a few weeks and then be on their way to contact other members scattered through the area. My father never became a member of the church, but he was the most loving and generous man I've ever known. He really cared about people.

I had a happy, carefree childhood, with strict parents, but they always demonstrated to me a parental love that let me know their requirements for obedience was always for my best interests.

I can remember from my earliest days of looking forward to the visits of the missionaries, as they would come to our little home, without purse or script and hold church services in our home for a few days and then move on. This was always a high point in the year for the whole family, including my father, who was not a member of the church. I've often thought about this, and I've come to the conclusion that the reason he was never baptized is that no one ever asked him.

My childhood years moved along without any real sickness or tragedy or any remarkable events, until my eighth year. I was told that I would be baptized on this birthday. That was a pretty big word for me so I immediately rebelled. So my mother always said that I was baptized when I was 8 years and 2 days old. It took the missionaries 2 days to catch me. But they got the job done. I was baptized in the Hocking River when it was at flood stage, muddy and full of debris. I was confirmed there on the river bank and had the gift of the Holy Ghost bestowed upon me. However, I don't think it really "took" until many years later.

As I look back, the years passed swiftly, but happily. We still had very little contact with the church, until some years later. I can remember in my teen years, my grandfather and I would sit in the porch swing and he would always tell me about how he was going to run me for sheriff of Athens County when I grew up. Unfortunately he passed away before I was out of my teens, or else I would probably still be sheriff today.

As the years passed along, I entered school, liked it sometimes and rejected it at others. However, learning came easy for me and in later years I was sorry I hadn't pushed myself a little to become something more than I did. In my 5th year I received the gift of the book, "Little Men: for finishing the years spelling in a little over half the year. I was always tops in spelling bees.

On into High School, I played football, basketball, and baseball on the Nelsonville High School team. I was captain of the football team in my Senior year. I played the position of center on offense and linebacker on defense. I loved football and played all four years of high school. I didn't think I would like basketball, so didn't try for it in my freshman year. However, I did in my sophomore year and made the team. In the three years I played basketball in high school there was only one game I didn't start and that was a pushover on a Friday night and we had to play again on the next night on Saturday. I was proud of this.

While playing football, I had my left elbow broken on the first play of the game, and played the rest of the game with it this way. It hurt so bad that I had to rest it on my kidney pads and play with only one hand and arm. After the game was over, the doctor put my arm in a cast and it was on there for six weeks. On the day the cast was removed, Friday, the day of the last football game of the season, I played the entire game, both offense and defense. Some stupid trick; I'l suffer for it the rest of my life. I think if I had it to do over again, I'd bypass high school sports. I have too many mementos; crooked elbow, trick knee and crooked fingers and all sorts of aches and pains.

I graduated from high school in the 1938-1939 class along with 70 other seniors. Still in the throes of the great depression, no jobs were to be had.
I worked a couple of days for the Township (50 cents an hour) and the money went to help put food on the table.

Two months after I was out of high school, 17 years of age, I boarded a train in Athens, Ohio as a member of the CCC and headed for Darby, Montana. I had never been away from home overnight before this time. I had been raised in a home where there were few of the luxuries of life, but lots of love and family togetherness. I was very homesick for a while, but threw myself into the work of the Forest Service and managed to survive through the first few weeks.

Fighting forest fires, cutting huge trees, splitting wood, building log cabins, irrigation ditches, ski slopes and not least of all, packing in 18-25 miles, hiking day and night to reach a forest fire, to bring under control so we could save the countries forests. This was the sort of life I lived for the time I was in Montana; bedding down in a sleeping bag on a mountainside and going without a change of clothing for as long as two weeks at a time. But it was a good, healthy life and I've never regretted the year I spent in the CCC Camps.

I returned home from Montana to find that there were still no jobs to be had, so I decided to once again try the 3 C's. I signed up, knowing what I was getting into this time and was scheduled to go to Idaho this time. But something wonderful happened. While waiting for my orders for transportation west, I decided to go roller skating. While there I had a collision with the person who turned out to be my partner through life. Not withstanding the fact that she knocked out two fillings from my teeth and gave me various other pains and bruises, this was the turning point of my life. We began dating and I decided to pull some strings and stay in the camp where I was at the time instead of going west. I accomplished this without too much trouble because they were badly in need of a 1st baseman on their ball team. Romance blossomed in my life and in the next few months, Ruth and I saw an awful lot of each other. We decided we would get married on her 18th birthday, but I begged off from this date because there was no way I could afford a wife. Jobs were still scarce and not to be had. I was still in the 3C camp when my uncle became general manager of Bendix Aviation Corp in Wayne, Michigan. He offered me a job testing aircraft carburetors, and with that offer, I was able to get an honorable discharge from the 3C's. I went to Michigan to take this job, along with my brother, Harry, and with this action I became an independent, employed citizen with my future assured, so I thought.

It was while I was working in Wayne, Michigan that I was married to my life's companion. The event took place on Friday evening at 9:00 P.M. in the home of Rev. Morris in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, May 16, 1942. Cliff and Mary Lewis, uncle and aunt of my wife, stood up with us and signed as witnesses. After the ceremony, we each called our parents and informed them. I remember my mother telling us that we were too young to marry (Ruth was 19 and I was 20. I hoped that she was proven wrong.

Just a few months after I was married, on Dec 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I was at work, when the news came and little did I know at this time the extent of what my involvement would be. Pres. Roosevelt immediately declared war on the Nation of Japan and while he was at it
he also declared war on Germany, Italy and all of their allies. I wanted to be in the conflict, but was torn between two loyalties; a pregnant wife and my country. Ruth cried when I informed her that I was going to enlist in the Navy, but this only deterred me for a short time. On Sept 9, 1942, I took the oath of allegiance to the United States of America and officially became a member of the United States Navy. I took this oath of allegiance on Central Square in Cincinnati, Ohio along with about 200 other young men, all eager to fight. I was transported via railroad to Chicago, where I spent 31 days in Boot Camp learning, I'm sure, regimentation. At the end of this period I was sent to Electrical School at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana.

After 16 weeks of intensive schooling, I received the rating of Electricians Mate 3/C Petty Officer and was assigned to the U.S.S. Portunus, a P.T. Boat tender and repair ship. We carried the depth charges, high octane gasoline and torpedoes for the P.T. boats. We were a floating bomb hunting a place to go off. I stayed on this ship until the 5 Sullivan Brothers were lost on one ship. After this event, a directive came out saying that brothers could no longer be assigned to the same ship. As my brother, Harry and I were both on the Portunus, one of us had to go. I was picked as the one to be transferred, so shortly thereafter, I found myself at the Naval Receiving Station in Brisbane, Australia awaiting re-assignment. This came immediately. I, along with four others, was taken to the Hotel Darby in downtown Brisbane and billeted on the 3rd floor of the hotel. This was to by my home for the next 8 months. I was assigned to be one of Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid's body guards, with a 45 automatic strapped on my hip. This was not a happy time in my life. I was lonely, homesick and had a useless feeling because this was not what I joined up to do. I stood it for as long as I could and one day I walked into Commander Burwells' office and asked for a transfer back to sea. My request was granted and I headed back to the USA on a Dutch luxury liner which was being used by our Navy to transport personnel back and forth across the Pacific Ocean. After 30 days leave at home, I reported to Little Creek, Virginia for Mine Warfare training.
After completing this, I went to an advanced Mine Warfare school and at the end of this time, I was assigned to duty on the U.S.S. Hambleton, DD 455. After removal of gun turret #4 and installing special mine sweeping gear, we became High Speed Mine Sweeper # DMS 20 and joined with 14 other destroyers to make a pack of 15 high speed.

I was the Mine Warfare Specialist on our ship and was treated pretty good until I taught the executive officer and a couple of others some of my trade. After this, they became the specialists and I became the peon. Such is life! Duty on this ship lasted until after the end of WW II. I had some good experiences on board, but the bad far out weighed the good, that I do not choose to remember much of the time I spent on the U.S.S. Hambleton. War to me is hell on earth. A person should never have to be subjected to this kind of experience. The thing that stands out most in my mind is the four times our ship was relieved from anti-aircraft screen, the relieving ship each time was sunk within a half hour after having relieved us. What is the answer for this? I don't claim to know.

The war finally came to an end and soon after I was headed for home. What a happy day this was, when we finally found a ride from Okinawa to Seattle, Washington. This came after three weeks of living in the rainstorms and mud on Okinawa. This was a taste of the kind of life the GI's had throughout the war. I was certainly glad that I had been in the Navy. A clean bunk every night, regular chow, clean clothing; the things that really count when it comes to comfort and well being.

Finally I was discharged and arrived home Nov 19, 1945, 2 days before my 24th birthday. Three years taken from my life and nothing to show for them but an unsettled mind. I could not really adjust to civilian and married life right away and had no desire to go back to work. I moved in with my in-laws with my wife and child (a young son also named Bill) and just drifted aimlessly for a few months. I began to come out of it in the spring of 1946 and let my father talk me into buying half interest in a small restaurant. My brother was my partner. It didn't take me long to realize that this wasn't my niche in life, but it did serve a purpose, it put me back into a frame of mind to go to work again. After a year and a half of restaurant life I quit and went to work for a small appliance dealer and electrical contractor as an electrician. I had worked for him almost two years when television first came out, and began selling in goodly numbers. I decided that this would be a good field to get into, so once again I quit my job. This time it was two weeks before Christmas. It was a slim Christmas for us on Dec 25, 1949. I enrolled under the GI Bill at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio and started to school early in January of 1950. I graduated from Franklin University and already had a job in Towson, Maryland with Radio Division of Bendix Aviation. I stayed in Maryland on this job for almost a year, but it was too far from home for my wife. We had to make too many trips back to Ohio. So once again in December, I quit my job on a Friday and started to work the following week with North American Aviation Corporation in Columbus, Ohio. This was December 12, 1951. For the next 10 years I spent at N.A.A. Finally, it was here that I really began to be introduced to the church once again. I have to admit that I was not too interested, but I made friends that have lasted throughout the years. I gained a good reputation at N.A.A. for being able to get things done properly. I was chosen to be the Electrical Leadman in charge of all electric circuitry and operations on the first airplanes on the FJ-2, FJ-3, FJ-4, T1J Trainer, F-100 and the exotic C5A, supersonic aircraft, with auto pilot and the first one with an inertial navigation system. Ten happy and luxurious years with this company and once again I was looking around for greener pastures. I took a day off from work and went to Newark, Ohio to check into a job that was going to open up there. It was with the United States Air Force and it was in the field of inertial navigation systems for missiles. This really sounded interesting. It was not only a new field, but also another source of income after retirement time. And I could count the 3 years and 2 months I'd served in the Navy toward this retirement. This really sounded good to me.

I was accepted for employment by the Air Force and reported for work June of 1961. I was assigned to the Titan Missile program and was told I would receive schooling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I looked forward to this very much. The time finally came for me to go to Wisconsin, so three of us pooled our funds and purchased a house trailer to live in up there so we could save money.
When school was out in Newark, my wife and family (4 children by now) came up to join me. Something happened to me, however, that changed my entire life.
This happened shortly before I left N.A.A.

I had drank and smoked for years. I drank beer because I really liked it. But I had been attending church once in a while, and I was beginning to feel that maybe there was something to it after all. It was New Years Eve, all the family was in bed but me, and I sat all night thinking and pondering the values and priorities that I was placing first in my life. I came to the conclusion that I had things all backwards, so I decided to do something about it. I committed myself to quit smoking and drinking and to become active in the church and see what the Lord had in store for me. Again, I thought about the times that my life had probably been spared, when I had been in the Navy and other men had died in the places I had just left. I thought that maybe I had been spared for something better than I was allowing myself to receive.

I never smoked or drank after that night. I've heard of the great difficulty that some people have in stopping these vices, but I had no trouble at all. My desire to partake of them left me, when I made my commitment to seek after a better way of life. From that time to this my life has been one church job after another and I've loved all of them.

But back to Milwaukee, we attended church in a small Branch in Racine while we were there. They made us feel at home as they accepted us into their family. The stay in Milwaukee was happy as well as profitable.

Back to Newark and settling into a routine of work and church. I was called into the Stake High Council immediately after my return. I served almost 5 years in the position with President James L. Mortensen as Stake President and following him President Ralph M. Johnson. Also served under President H. Clay Gorton for awhile and then was released to become Branch President of the Newark Branch for the 2nd time. While serving as Branch President, I was called to be the first Bishop as the Newark Branch became the Newark Ward. This was a great honor and blessing.

I was sent to California because of my job and due to the length of time I was to be gone, I was released from the office of Bishop before I left Newark.

My wife and youngest son, Mark, went with me this time, as the other children were off on their own interests. This was like a paid vacation because I received expense money while there. I worked at night and that left me pretty much free to sight see in the daylight hours. It made for an enjoyable visit to California.

When I returned to Newark I worked on the Guidance System for the Minuteman Missile. Although it has been updated, I am still in the same position today, calibrating and testing the guidance system for the Minuteman III Missile.

I served as Scout Master in the Ward after I returned from California and this was a position that I really felt I was suited for. I had the privilege of taking some of my scouts on a ten day camping and 50 mile canoe trip in Minnesota. This trip we really roughed it. What beautiful country there is in Minnesota? How I would love to live there.

One morning on January 12 I had a heart attack and was confined to the hospital for awhile and this kind of slowed me down. I was released as Scout Master in the Ward and for the first time for many years, I was without a job in the church. What a desolate feeling this is. After having been wrapped up in other peoples lives and cares for so long, to suddenly be cast aside. My testimony wavered a little, and then I was called to be a counselor to the Sunday School President. Happy day, I'm needed again. But just a couple of months here and I'm released and called as teacher of the Gospel Doctrine Class. I've always wanted to be a Sunday School teacher so I accept this very gratefully. I had just begun to get my teeth into this teaching job when I am released again.
This time I'm not called to another job. I feel as if I'm only being used as a stopgap until the Lord finds time to call the proper person to the job I'm in.

I'm called in and asked if I would serve in the Sunday School Presidency again. Of course, I say yes. But again, in just a few weeks, again I'm released without another call. It was then that Sister Patty Paisola said something to me that made me much more able to go through these calls and releases. She said to me, "Bro Blimes, the Lord really must have something special in mind for you since he's giving you the experience in all these areas." I don't think she knew it, but these words were spoken to me at just the right time to cause me to pause and think that just maybe she was right and this gave me the strength and courage to continue on and wait patiently for the calling the Lord had in mind for me.
Not too long after this, I was interviewed by a member of the Stake Presidency and called to be the High Priest Group Leader in the Ward. I don't know how other people feel about it, but I know that nobody could like to visit the Temple as much as I do. I love the work that this calling entails and I pray I might be able to in some way help the Ward membership. It is through Genealogy work and temple work that families are perpetuated throughout the eternities. I don't know yet if this is the calling that Sis Paisola was referring to, but I'm certainly enjoying it at this time.


It was a great time and place to be a kid. I never felt at risk in any situation I was in. There was a big world out there and I wanted to discover all I could about it. Aunt Emma really encouraged me in this pursuit. Even today, at my age, I still am always looking for new and exciting places and experiences. Aunt Emma believed in encouraging kids to be what they wanted to be and to be comfortable in their own skin. If I wanted to catch a snapping turtle and kill it, clean it and cook it, she was right by my side helping me to do it. If I wanted to learn to sew, she would simply say, “What do you want to make?” When I wanted to have a party and invite my friends for a cook out, she was right there helping me make decorations and favors and planning the menu. One time I wanted to have a Luau and she came up with a way to take colored paper napkins, fold them, cut them and string them on thread to make leis.
There were two large porches on Aunt Emma’s house, one on the front and one on the back. She had a chaise lounge that was on wheels and sometimes it would be on the front porch and sometimes on the back. She always had two or three cats and/or kittens around. On hot nights I would sleep out on the chaise lounge with a cat or two curled up with me. I would usually have a sheet or light blanket to pull over me as it often got cool by morning even on the hottest August nights. The sheet also served another purpose. It was a barrier against attacks of the killer mosquitoes. Boy, could those things bite and did they ever itch. One year Larry had a pup tent and we set it up in the side yard and we planned to sleep out in it. At some point during the night, Larry poked me and said he heard something outside the tent. I listened and soon I heard something give a loud growl. Man, we were both out of that tent like a shot! It’s a wonder we took time to unzip the door. Then next day we tried to figure out what it was and decided it was probably an opossum or raccoon having an argument with a cat about some food or something we had left outside the tent. I don’t ever remember attempting to sleep out in the tent again but it sure didn’t stop me from sleeping on the porch.
I also remember on warm summer nights sitting out in the yard looking up at the dark star studded sky and watching for the Russian satellite, Sputnik. The Sputnik program was a series of robotic spacecraft missions launched by the Soviet Union. The first of these, Sputnik 1, launched the first human-made object to orbit the Earth. That launch took place on October 4, 1957 as part of the International Geophysical Year and demonstrated the viability of using artificial satellites to explore the upper atmosphere. It was amazing to us that we could look up and see it with the naked eye as it orbited far above us in the night sky. This was the stuff of Buck Rogers, and those of us who grew up on his exploits in outer space, were fascinated that space exploration was really possible. The satellite showed up as a moving light crossing the sky far above us. At this time, well before all the sightings of commercial air planes crisscrossing the sky that we see today, seeing a moving light in the sky was a big event.

Frank and Eva’s nieces, Lynn and Rosie, used to come over and visit them and we all became friends. It was a much simpler life in those days. Boys and girls could be friends with out everyone assuming they were more than friends. As I look back now, I feel sorry for kids who don’t have the kind of youth we had. But for several summers, Lynn, Rosie, a neighbor boy, Corky and I ran around together. We would go to movies in Athens, go to the fair, have cookouts and have great summer parties. Lynn and Corky were both in 4-H and so we went to the fair to show off their projects. She liked to sew her own clothes and I remember going to a fashion show at the fair where she modeled a dress she had made. I think I may even have a photo of her wearing that dress at the fair. Corky usually had a calf or lamb at the fair and I would spend the nights in the barns with him. The four of us would also mess around in the barns doing kid type stuff. I think I have a photo of Rosie on her hands and knees up on a sheep grooming bench. And then there were the rides and sideshows. I remember once Corky and I were riding the giant swings. As we went around one of his cowboy boots flew off his foot and sailed over on top of a nearby vendor tent. We had to go looking for it after we got off the ride.

I always had a lot more free time to roam the hills than Lynn, Rosie or Corky. They were farm kids and usually had to do chores to help out on their family farms. But we still found time to explore and discover the wonders of nature. I recall a huge woods back behind Frank’s farm where there were huge beech trees. They were gigantic and walking under them was a little creepy. There was very little noise, no sunlight, and not much undergrowth.

We also went to Bible School at the Presbyterian Church in Amesville for part of the summer. I remember at the end of one summer we were doing a play or some sort of end of Bible School Activity and my Mom arranged to come and get me to take me home on the same day so she could attend this activity. At one point in the program, it was time to pass the collection plate, and I was one of the people chosen to do this. Mom was appalled that I would do such a thing. We did not go in for this sort of thing at our church.
Aunt Emma was very involved in a couple of community activities held every summer. One was the Fireman’s Festival, a street fair held in Amesville and the other was the Grange Booth at the Athens County Fair. She would always enlist me in helping with these activities. The first one, The Fireman’s Festival was held to raise money to help support the local Volunteer Fire Department. A side street in Amesville was closed off and there would be games and activities to participate in. Games like ring toss, pitching pennies and bingo were held in booths on the street. In the firehouse the trucks would be parked outside and long tables were set up and a ham and egg supper was served for a price. Everyone in the community supported this activity. For a couple of weeks before the event, Aunt Emma and I would drive the country roads all around Amesville, soliciting donations for the dinner and prizes for the booths. I loved riding these roads with Aunt Emma as she was always willing to stop if we saw something we thought we might use in a craft project. I remember one time we were going by someone’s garden and she saw some seed pods that interested her. We stopped and picked a few (they were radish plants that had gone to seed) and took them home to dry to use in dried flower arrangements. Another time we stopped to look at a tree that was full of some type of fruit I had never seen before. It turned out to be a persimmon tree and I can still feel the pucker of my mouth when I tasted one of them. Aunt Emma said they became very palatable after a frost had hit them. And we were always scouting for hickory and walnut nut trees, which she and Larry would come back to in the fall to pick up nuts.
The Grange Booth at the County Fair was another big event in our summer lives. Once again we would get the car and visit grange members around Amesville. Aunt Emma would get promises from people to bring examples of their farms’ produce and flowers to use in the exhibit. I remember there were very specific requirements for the booth. There had to be a flag, a bible, and various other items displayed in the booth. Each year there would be a different theme to follow but it all built around canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, and other things produced by the farms of the area. We would also use corn and wheat stalks, dried weeds and seeds we would gather along the roads and anything else we could gather up as we drove about. It was a fun time when everyone got together to put the exhibit together. As I got older and became involved in 4-H and other activities, I didn’t have time to help as much as I had but I still always rode around with her looking for stuff along the roads and lanes of Ames Township.
It seemed like everyone in the county went to the fair. Even Eva got dressed up in her hat and good dress to go to the fair. I have a picture of her by the seating on the hillside where we would sit to watch the horse races. It was the only times I ever saw her dressed up. She usually had on an old dress with a heavy duty apron on over it. This was what she wore in the barn and she had a similar outfit she wore around the house. I don’t think I ever saw her without an apron on except at the fair. Frank always wore the same type of clothes no matter where he was or what he was doing. He wore a work shirt and work pants, as I remember they were tan in color.


THANKFUL THURSDAY-as suggested by geneabloggers. My aunt, Emma Bryson Morris, inspired my love of nature and my enthusiasm to share this joy with others.

My aunt Emma's neighbor, Frank, would hire me to help with the haying. When I first started going down there he put his hay up loose. He used a fork type piece of machinery called a Buck Rake. It fit on the front of the tractor and had long tines made of wood that stuck out in front of the tractor. It could be raised and lowered by hydraulics. He would drive the tractor along the windrow of hay that had been raked up and the hay would pile up on the tines until he had quite a large stack of hay. Then if he was storing it in a haystack he would drive to where we were building the stack of hay and raise the forks up to the top of the stack and my job was to pull the hay off, scatter it around on top of the stack and tromp it down. This was not one of my favorite activities. However, if we were putting the hay in the barn haymow, we would load the hay onto a wagon until we got a big pile and then haul it to the barn. At the barn there was a large inverted U-shaped piece of equipment hooked to a series of pulleys and ropes that we used to transfer the hay to the mow. The top of the U was hinged and the ends of the U were a little more curved in than a U. This made it so we could squeeze huge clumps of hay to the inside of the U. On Frank’s farm a tractor was hooked to the end of a rope and walked out from the barn. As the tractor was backed away, the U full of hay was raised up into the top of the barn where you pulled another rope that transferred the U of hay to a second rope that allowed you to pull the clump of hay to the part of the mow where you wanted to stack the hay. Then a third rope was yanked and the U spread apart, dumping the hay where you wanted it. Then someone would spread the hay out and tramp it down. At a neighbors that I sometimes helped with the haying they still used horses for this part of the job. My job with this method was to work the horse. I could either lead it or ride it to raise the hay up to the haymow. Which method do you think I would use?
One year I was pleased to find that Frank had invested in a hay baler with his brother. Frank would go out the day before we were going to bale and cut the hay. Then the next morning he would take the hay rake pulled by the tractor and rake the hay into windrows. The windrow is formed by a hay rake, which rakes hay that has been cut by a mower machine into a row. If the weather was just right we could start baling in the afternoon. The goal was to get the hay cut, raked, baled and into the barn before it rained. So when it came time to make the hay, I would ride on the hay wagon which was pulled behind the baler which was pulled by the tractor. The hay in the windrow is lifted by tines into the baler's pickup. The hay is then dragged or augered into a chamber that runs the length of one side of the baler. A combination plunger and knife moves back and forth in the front end of this chamber. The knife, positioned just ahead of the plunger, cuts off the hay at the spot where it enters the chamber from the pickup. The plunger rams the hay rearwards, compressing it into the bales. A measuring device measures the amount of hay that is being compressed and, at the appropriate length it triggers the mechanism (the knotter) that wraps the twine around the bale and ties it off. Another conveyer would then move the bale out onto a shoot that brought the bale up near the front edge of the wagon where I would be standing with a hay hook in my hand. I would reach down, hook the bale and pull it onto the wagon. Then I had to drag the bale back, lift it up and stack it. We would continue this process until we had a full wagon of stacked bales. It was fairly easy until you got to the front of the wagon and had to stand on bales and reach way down to hook the new bale and drag it up and find a place to stack it. We put up a lot of hay this way for many years. I loved working in the hay fields because we would often find baby cotton tail rabbits that had been disturbed by the hay making process. I would jump off the wagon when I saw one, grab it, put it in my shirt pocket where it would crouch down and be back up on the wagon ready to grab the next bale. I would take these bunnies home where I fed them with an eye dropper until they were old enough to turn loose. Making hay was hot, dirty, itchy work. I was always happy at the end of the day because I knew how good the water would feel when I jumped into the creek to wash and cool off. And for this marvelous experience I would get paid the magnificent sum of one penny per bale. On a good day we would do about five hundred bales.

I loved going “back on the hill” for the day. Sometimes I would take a lunch, two water buckets and my little berry pail and pick blackberries. I would stay out until I had both my buckets full. I hooked my berry pail (a small container with a handle) through my belt so I could pick with both hands. When I got the pail full I would dump it into the larger buckets. I knew where all the biggest and juiciest berries grew. I picked berries for Aunt Emma, Grandma Morris and my Mom. Aunt Emma would make the berries into juice and can it in quart jars for Grandma and Mom to make jelly and jam. In addition to making jelly and jam, Aunt Emma would make pies and a berry pudding. I really liked the pudding. She made it in a bread loaf pan and it had the consistency of cake. We would slice it and eat it with milk on it, hot or cold.
Other times I would just go exploring. I liked being off by myself, pretending I was an explorer in some strange lands. I always carried a paper grocery sack folded up small in my back hip pocket ‘just in case’. Sometimes I would bring home bits of moss, ferns, flowers and rocks and chunks of wood and make a terrarium where I could put snakes, toads, tiny tortoises, or strange bugs I found. Other times I took a net and would catch butterflies and other insects for my collection. I would tramp up hill and down; I especially liked to walk along dry creek beds that came down off the hills. Sometime I would find things like; an empty tortoise shell, small animal skulls and bones, and other interesting junk I would drag home. I wonder that Aunt Emma put up with all my stuff. But she would show interest in what I brought home and help me figure out ways to preserve and display my treasures.

When I would go back on the hill, I might be gone all day and never see another person or a house. There were deep valleys, thick woods with gigantic trees, and even a rock cliff. One time I was sitting up on the edge of the cliff and I saw something moving across the valley at the edge of the woods. At first I thought it was a large black dog but then I realized it was a bear. Now when I was a kid, there were very few deer or other large animals to be found. It is only after I became an adult that the deer, bear, and mountain lion numbers increased to where their sightings became fairly common. So when I went home that afternoon and said I had seen a bear, I’m not sure I was believed. If only I had had a camera. But it probably wouldn’t have shown up in a picture as cameras then were not like cameras of today.

Genea-Musings: Tuesday's Tip - Check out the BYU Family History Archives

Genea-Musings: Tuesday's Tip - Check out the BYU Family History Archives


There are many minor characters in my life history who in one way or another had an impact on my life. One couple who were a part of my life in the formative years and a constant in my life from the age of nine was Frank and Eva Nadroski. They lived next door to my Aunt Emma. They operated a 100 acre dairy farm. They were siblings and were true examples of the meaning of “the salt of the earth” people. They were of Polish extraction. Frank was an average height man with a red, weather beaten face. Eva was a short round little woman that for the most part was always jolly. Eva was the oldest of four children and the only girl. She wore glasses and they were usually held together with tape.

The jobs on the farm were assigned by gender. Frank did all the manual type labor on the farm; plowing, planting, harvesting, etc. and Eva did the housework; kept the milk house, milk cans, and milkers spotless and took care of the calves. She fed the calves with a bucket with a nipple on the bottom. Sometimes she would let me help with the calves but once I got old enough to realize this was “women’s work”, I didn’t do it anymore. Eva, being a small person, was constantly being knocked about by the rambunctious calves. This resulted in the broken glasses and her walking around in a gimpy way a lot of the time. Frank and Eva never owned a car. Frank had a John Deere tractor and he would go to Amesville on it if he needed something in a hurry from the hardware store. They would go grocery shopping with their brother or his wife. Aunt Emma would also pick up necessities for them when she went shopping in Athens. They lived very basic, hard working lives. Eva died in August of 1972 at the age of 69 and Frank died at 65 in November, 1976. I recently visited their graves in the McDougal Church cemetery. On Frank’s tombstone is the following epitaph: “The face of the earth was his easel, His paint was the seed, His tools were his brushes, An artist indeed”.

I first became acquainted with them in 1952 when I first started spending my summers with Aunt Emma. They had a brother, Stanley, who with his wife, Thelma, lived about five miles away on another farm. They had three daughters, Sandy, Lynn and Rosalie. Sandy was Larry’s age, Lynn was my age and Rosie was a couple of years younger than me. More about them later. Frank and Eva had another brother, John, who was killed in the Millfield Mine Explosion. The Millfield Mine disaster, Ohio's worst mine disaster, occurred November 5, 1930, in a Sunday Creek Coal Company mine in Athens County, Ohio. According to the historical marker at the site in Millfield, the explosion killed 82 people, including the company's top executives who were in the mine inspecting new safety equipment. Nine hours after the explosion, rescuers found 19 miners alive underground, three miles from the main shaft. The disaster attracted national press coverage and international attention, and it prompted improvement of Ohio's mine safety laws in 1931. The first explosion was tremendous. Tons of slate and coal were jolted into the passageways. Bodies of many of the workers were dismembered. A short time later, there was a second blast and the mine filled with gas which penetrated masks and held back rescuers until night.

I have always been an early morning person and this served me well on the farm. I was usually the first person up and out of the house. I would go up to the barn that was located up behind Aunt Emma’s house and find Frank and Eva already in the barn. They milked about thirty cows and usually started about 5:30 am. I would go up and help them get the barn ready for the cows to come in from the pasture. I was amazed to learn that each cow had her own stall and knew just were to go. One of my jobs was to scatter a little feed in the trough in front of each stall so as the cows came in they would go up and stick their heads through the stanchions. Then Frank would go up between each cow and lock the head restraint section of the stanchion so the cows could not wander about the barn. Eva would then come out of the milk house with a bucket of warm water with some sort of orangy red disinfectant and begin washing off the cows’ udders and teats. Frank would go into the milk house and get a milking machine that Eva had put together while Frank and I brought the cows in from the pasture. There was not a lot of talking in the barn but everyone knew their job and went about it in an efficient manner. As one cow was finished, Eva had another one washed, I dumped in a scoop full of feed and Frank placed the milkers on the cow. I don’t really remember how my part in this routine came about. I just remember at an early age I helped them nearly every morning that I was staying at Aunt Emma’s. I also helped them at the evening milking but not as regularly as I did in the morning. A lot of times in the afternoon I was off wandering the hills or doing things with Aunt Emma. I didn’t get paid to do this. I just did it for the enjoyment I got associating with Frank and Eva and being a “farmer.
From my earliest memory all I ever wanted was to be a farmer. So when I was at Aunt Emma’s, I got the chance to be a sort of farmer. I loved going out in the early morning mists to bring the cows into the barn. As I got older, Frank let me do this on my own. I remember learning an important lesson that I have used often in my work with kids in school. As I would bring the dairy herd in, they would approach the gate which was closed. I would have to work my way up through the cows to open the gate. I would have to be careful not to let the cows bunch up too much at the gate. If I pressed them too close together they would begin to butt and kick one another. I learned that if I left them loosely gathered at the gate they waited peacefully and patiently for me to open the gate. Then I stood at the gate and only let through the cows that needed to be milked. There were always several cows that were not being milked for one reason or another; they were waiting to have a calf, they were too young to have had a calf yet or they were the bull or steers. I guess at this point I should explain the different types of cows found in a dairy herd. The majority of the herd were cows that were producing milk. In order for a cow to give milk they had to have had a calf in the not too distant past. At some point during the year, a cow would begin to show a decrease in milk production because they were again about to have another calf. They usually had one calf a year and about a month or two before the calf was born the cow would stop giving milk. I suppose this was so the cow’s body could devote itself to producing a strong healthy calf instead of milk. So a percentage of the herd was cows that were “dry” or not giving milk at this time. Another part of the herd consisted of heifers. Heifers are female cows that have not yet had a calf. They could be a couple of months up to a year old. It seems to me that Frank did not allow his heifers to be bred until they were a year old. Part of the time, if there was a cow ready to be bred, Frank would have the bull in the pasture with the cows. Not too long after I started helping, Frank quit keeping a bull and started using a new fangled notion, Artificial Insemination, to breed his cows. This was a vast improvement on having a bull around. With the bull you had to feed him and care for him a large part of the year when he was not needed. Also, you could keep records and know exactly when a cow was due to calve and you could keep her in a field near the barn where you could keep an eye on her. Another great plus for this method was that the company that provided the service had a catalogue of bulls that you could leaf through and pick out a sire that had a good record for producing healthy calves, cows that gave large quantities of milk and pick the breed you wanted. For example, if you had a cow that usually had male calves, you could breed her to a beef breed so you got a calf that would be raised to put meat on the table. I remember one instance where Frank chose to breed one of his cows to a Charolais Bull. This was an unheard of breed in Athens County and many people would stop by the farm to see this calf after it was born. Today Charolais cattle are pretty common. Eva named this calf Sean and this calf was a winner. He grew fast and was a big, blocky shape. His mother was a Holstein and he had the spots associated to that breed but they were a kind of gray/brown color instead of black. He was so big for his age that people were amazed. Sean ended up on the dinner table - which was his purpose in life.

I had some favorites among the cows that I still remember to this day. One was named Pansy and the other, Cindy. Pansy had big liquid blue eyes. She would see me in the pasture when I was out picking berries or hiking around and come up to me to see what I was doing. She loved having her head rubbed behind her ears. She was a brown and white spotted cross between a Holstein and a Jersey. The other, Cindy, was a brown Jersey and she also would recognize me when I was out in the field and come and see if I had something to feed her. Often I would share my snack with her. She would eat about anything I had; apples, carrots, celery or part of a peanut butter sandwich. Most of the heard were black and white Holsteins and I probably liked these cows because they were different. And for some reason the Holsteins never seemed as friendly and often were suspicious of me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stout Funeral Home Nelsonville, Ohio Death & Burial Records

Many years ago my mother, Ruth Morris Blimes, and her sister, Marilyn Morris Carter, transcribed the records from the Stout Funeral Home in Nelsonville, Ohio. Several months ago my cousin, Ginny, brought me a box of folders with handwritten notes made by these two devoted ladies. She and asked me if I wanted to do something with these documents. What a gift! The records begin in December of 1906 and continue into the 1950s. Now begins the loving chore of putting all of this information into a format that can be used like an ebook for anyone who might be looking for this family information.
Each year is documented with names, dates of death and burial, age, place of residence, occupations, burial places and in some cases the names of parents or spouses. Some notations have only a few vital statistics, such as names and dates while others even tell how they died (“death by falling slate in mine”). This is an interesting project.
Sharing what I learn about my ancestors inspires me to keep digging for details about the lives of those who lived before. My ties to Nelsonville, Ohio run deep and the stories of those who lived and died there bring life into their bones. One of the first entries I read was for the twin daughters of my great grandfather Frank Tolliver (Hessie & Tessie). Many historians thought that there was only one child, either Hessie or Tessie, but this record proves what my mother had told me about the birth and death of these twin girls. Now I have a verifying death date direct from a primary source. Can’t wait to see what else I will find in these records.