With Amy Johnson Crow having a prompt like “Brick Walls” for week 15 you all probably think I’m going to write about Andrew Blair and Susanna Akers. Well you’re right. And I’m going to throw their son, George Washington Blair into the mix as well (though to be honest I contemplated writing about someone else, but then I started to laugh).
Andrew & Susanna
Andrew Blair and Susanna Akers are my 3rd-great-grandparents on my paternal side of the family. When I began working on my family history again in college, Andrew and Susanna (also found as Susannah, Suzanna, and Susan) were also the brick wall of my cousin, Darlene. So here is what we have, because when her daughter sent me the gedcom file for her research, we had the same information.
Andrew and Susanah show up out of nowhere on the 1850 Census living in Conemaugh, Cambria, Pennsylvania. He is a laborer aged 35, she is a housekeeper aged 25, and neither can read nor write. They have 2-children at this time, Sarah Catherine age 4, and William age 1 and they were all born in Pennsylvania (I have boxed their information with a red square).
Our next document is the 1860 Census. They have moved to Huston Township, Blair, Pennsylvania and there are more of them. Andrew is still a laborer and is suddenly 50 years old (yes, he is 15 years older in just 10 years), Susanah is 34 (which could be possible as 1850 census was taken in November, and the 1860 census was taken in June). Sarah is 14, William is 10 while we have three boys to add to the family: Andrew J (my direct descendant) is 9, George Washington is 6, and Samuel A is 4. With 4 out 5 children attending school, we now only have Andrew being unable to read and write (I’ve often wondered did Susanna learn as her children did?). The value of his personal estate is $50 and again, everyone was born in Pennsylvania.
In the 1870 Census Andrew, Susanna and family are once again in a different town and county, Broad Top Township in Bedford County Pennsylvania. Andrew is still a laborer and is 59 with a personal estate of $800, Susanna is “Susan” and is 44, the oldest child living at home is now Andrew who is a wood chopper and is age 19, next is George who is an apprentice shoemaker and age 17, and lastly is Samuel who is 13 and still in school (outside info: Sarah has married and is the next family listed under her parents and siblings; William has passed away, but I don’t know from what). I question the marks for Andrew and George about being blind, deaf, dumb or idiotic (being a direct descendent of Andrew, no one wants to see that of their ancestor, it also says they can’t read or write but the previous census did have them in school).
Our last census is 1880 where Andrew and Susanna are living in Coaldale, Bedford, Pennsylvania. It is just the two of the now, all of their children have married. Andrew is still a laborer but has been unemployed for 8 months of that year, and he is 68 years old. Susanna is 54. Both are listed as having been born in Pennsylvania, and both are listed as having their parents being born in Pennsylvania too. Their son, Andrew, and his family are living 2-households away (oddly enough a non-direct descendent on my grandmother’s side lives between them, with another member of my Wise branch living on the other side of son Andrew).
After this I have nothing on Andrew and Susanna other than the death certificate of their son, Samuel Alexander Blair in 1932 (or as the death certificate states, SA Blair). This is the only document I’ve seen with Susanna’s last name of Akers being identified.
My Search for Andrew
Since multiple census proclaim that Andrew and his parents were born in Pennsylvania, I have tried to use previous censuses to find his parents. But with having the hash ticks and just the head of house hold available on the censuses from 1790 through 1840, I have not been successful. It probably doesn’t help that Andrew has had a wider range of ages on the different censuses from 35 in 1850, to 50 in 1860, to 59 in 1870 and lastly 68 in 1880, so with tick marks it could end up being in a wide variety of columns throughout his life depending on what year is the correct year.
I did come across a family tree on MyHeritage where it was noted by someone that Samuel (Blair) had told one of his son’s that his dad was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Of course I am unable to find this statement on MyHeritage at the moment but I’m going to guess that I read it somewhere as I wouldn’t have it in my mind otherwise.
Sarah Permelia Blair
My biggest puzzle is that while using the MyHeritage Library Edition (I can use it free at home using my library card) I found someone’s tree that lists a Sarah Permelia Blair as Andrew’s sister.
And then last year when I began playing with my DNA and grouping people into 8 groups and lo and behold I have a match with a person. Below is my Thrulines with her on my AncestryDNA (she is represented by the red square box), and she is related to me via Sarah Blair. When you click on Sarah she is married to David Points same as the above Sarah from MyHeritage.
I have done my due diligence researching Sarah Permelia Blair but more than half of the records I have come across state she was born in Maryland, Washington County to be exact. What makes this somewhat interesting? North of Washington County, Maryland is Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
I decided to then look to see what Blair’s were in Washington County, Maryland in both 1810 and 1820 census, on the chance they were there 6-years before Sarah was born, or 4 years after. There were 2 suspects: James Blair who is aged “over 45” in both, and Andrew Blair. Obviously with so many other Andrew Blair’s in my tree, I’m sure you have guessed who I liked for a possible person (that, and I honestly think that Andrew is one of James’ older sons who married and moved out first, in the 1830 Census there were many more Blair’s in the area and less in James’ house).
In the 1820 and 1830 Census, there are children (even with Andrew’s wide range of birth dates) that line up for this to be a true person of interest to be Andrew and Sarah’s dad. I will go on to further check out this Washington County, Andrew Blair, who disappears by 1840 (at least from Maryland, and I’m not having any luck in finding him in Pennsylvania either).
But I feel I’m on a good track so I’m really liking that I had this prompt. Fingers crossed that maybe I can tie people together once I work on more of the tree, maybe I have another DNA match that could wrap everything together in a pretty little bow.
Okay, I am laughing again.
My Search for Susanna
The elusive search for my 3rd-great-grandmother has been a slightly more difficult journey than Andrew. At least with him I’m fairly confident of his last name. Trouble with Susanna is that most census records indicate she was born in 1826 repeatedly, so I truly feel that is her birth year. But all the Akers that I have found in the Bedford County area don’t have a daughter that matches up to Susanna’s age. This is how I have begun to doubt her maiden name.
This is where my search for her second youngest son, George Washington Blair, comes in to play. Like his parents, George and his wife, Julianne (July Ann, possibly Julia Ann) disappear after the 1880 census. His daughter, Amanda, married John Lear and I have records for her, and the death certificate for his youngest daughter, Elizabeth born in 1882, but nothing after 1880 for George, Julia or their sons, Harry and Alexander.
I came to realize that George was also a brick wall when it came to my recollection that if I found his death certificate, it would give me either the same name for his mom’s maiden name, Akers, or give me another possible lead.
When Andrew Jackson Blair of 1851 passed away, the death register at the Bedford County Courthouse just has listed “Susannah Blair”.
My only real lead for thinking that George survived the 1880’s and as still living in Pennsylvania was his younger brother, Samuel’s, obituary (by the way, George and Samuel married sisters – Julia Ann was the sister of Samuel’s wife, Margaret). If you notice the second paragraph, it says, “He came to this city to live with his brother 18 months ago after the death of his wife, Mrs. Margaret (O’Neal) Blair”.
At this point in time Samuel’s only surviving brother was George. William passed away in 1865 and is buried in Hopewell Cemetery, and Andrew Jackson Blair in 1899 of a paralytic stroke (he is buried in Duvall Cemetery, which is also where Samuel and his family are laid to rest).
But I have yet to find any record of George Blair living in Blair County, Pennsylvania at this time. It does not help that there is another George Blair who is living in Blair County with a wife named Annie, but I am 99% certain this is a different George (though it is coincidental that my George’s wife’s middle name is Ann).
A Census Search for Akers
Another logical step I’ve done is do searches for male Akers in the 1830 and 1840 Census that would have females in their homes of the proper age with a basis of Susanna being born in 1826 (3 out of the 4 census documents that I have from 1850-1880 insinuate 1826 being the year of her birth). Only 1 individual in the greater Bedford County area seems to match up and that is a gentleman by the name of John Akers. But seeing as these census are only the tick marks and no names, it is hard to know for sure. Add on that I am not even 100% certain that her last name is Akers and it makes me doubt things that much more.
I have found some probate records for when John Akers passed away in 1866 but it is primarily just inventories. Oddly enough, when I did my searches on Ancestry someone does have a middle name of Andrew listed for John Akers (all the more reason my great-great-grandfather could have been named Andrew).
Making Some Cracks
I know I still have a great deal of work to do on my search for Andrew and Susanna’s parents. But each day I feel I am making more progress. If I ever begin to knock it down it will be such a happy day. If you remember the tv show “Perfect Strangers” I imagine it will be similar to Balki’s dance of joy.
But that day is not today. But hopefully I will get my dance, whatever it is, and share if that blessed day ever comes.
The theme for Week 13 of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Week’s is Music. I know I myself absolutely love music – all kinds from pop music, classic rock, alternative, classical, Broadway tunes, and due to my son being in a volunteer band while learning to play the trumpet in school, I’m evening expanding into jazz.
But when I think of my relatives and music, both of my grandmother’s come to mind and below you will read about these special ladies and their love of music.
Alberta Lou Fleming
My maternal grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming, loved music. She was one of those people who loved to dance and listen to the big band music of the 1940’s. When chatting with my Aunt she was able to tell me how when she was growing up, every Sunday they (Alberta, and her children) would go over to their grandma’s (Mildred Laura Dunbar) for dinner and they would put on the big band music and sing their heart’s out and dance. That must have been something to see in her living room.
I know my Grandma’s (Alberta) favorite song was “In the Mood”. I can’t say that I blame her, when I hear songs from that era, it is one of the ones that really gets my toes tapping as well. I can imagine it would be hard to not get up and dance.
Terry Mildred Fleming
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it came to a love of music. My Aunt, who would have been 72 years old today (April 2), loved music as well. Her younger sister told me that her favorite was music by the Beetles. Here is a photo of my Aunt Teri (she changed the spelling over the years) from her High School Yearbook – she was always so fashionable and I love this photo.
Though I was unable to confirm it, I thought I remembered my mother telling me how she had bought my aunt a life size doll to dance with. I asked my other aunt (my mom and aunt Teri’s younger sister) and my own sister, but neither remember. Initially I wasn’t going to add it, but it seems to me I wouldn’t have ever thought to make something like this up, but I like what my aunt also said, it totally sounded like something my mom would have done. So if she didn’t, I’m sure she must have thought about it.
Anna Maria Morgart
My Grandma Blair (as I know her) loved to hum. It didn’t matter what she was doing, she hummed. When she did dishes. When she crocheted. She could be sitting in a chair and daydreaming and she would hum. Even when I called her on the phone and there was that slight lull in the coversation.
She would also listen to her radio to church music and the like as well. But when I think of her I think of her humming. And there are times now that I am older when I am doing something and I don’t have music on, I hum too. (Just to add, today, April 2, would have been my Grandma’s 107th birthday).
To me nothing brings back memories better than music. Often a song will come on the radio and it’s as if I am going through all the emotions of the that moment as if it just happened. No other sense is as powerful for me. So when I hear “In the Mood” I think of my Grandma Metzger (aka Alberta Lou Fleming) and how she made me laugh with her fabulous sense of humor that I wish I had, or when I find myself humming in a room by myself, I smile as I know wonderful people before me did the same.
As a human being, we all lose members of our family. But when you lose a parent it’s comparable to losing a limb. This week’s theme is Loss for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestor’s in 52 Weeks, and I’m going to discuss one of the biggest losses of my life, my mom, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst, and you will get some of her insights as I have used her scrapbooking pages from her own blog to aid in my telling about her life.
Cynthia Anne Fairhurst
My mom was born on 22 December 1947 at 2:31am in Akron, Ohio, the oldest child of Harold Fairhurst and Alberta Lou Fleming.
It wasn’t long before others came along. My Aunt Terry was born in April 1949. Here is a photo of the family of four that following summer.
In July 1950 my Uncle Eddie was added to the mix and then my Aunt Debbie 4 years later.
My mom’s early years had her living in the North Hill area of Akron. By the time she was in second grade her family had moved to Cuyahoga Falls.
Third grade had her going to Grant Elementary School (which is now a community center in Cuyahoga Falls as they consolidated schools when I was in 5th grade and closed 3 elementary schools down).
Below is a photo of her from 4th grade when she attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School.
Cindy was always very close to her grandmother, Mildred Laura Fleming, spending a lot of time at her house. Below is a memory she had of Christmastime.
My mom and her siblings love to go and hang out at the Gorge, one of the Summit County Metro Parks where you can hike, fish, and ice skate (there are 3 different hiking paths that are a part of the annual hiking spree at this location alone). My mom, who wasn’t an overly nostalgic person (I have gotten all my pack rat sentimentality from my grandmother), still had a pair of her ice skates hanging in the room underneath the steps in our home. Most of her fondest memories of growing up were of her and her siblings playing at the Gorge. Below are some pictures I’ve taken over the years when I participate in the Fall Hiking Spree, but two (the black and white ones) I found on a Facebook Post (I think). The other I did re-find and is a photo by John McMillan.
From left to right on the top: A photo of where the ice skating pond is in the winter time, next is a photo of the Gorge hiking trail leading to Mary Campbell’s Cave (the others not shown are Highbridge and the Glenns), the pipe is a spot my mother claims to have crossed over countless times and I find this hard to believe as she was extremely afraid of heights, next is a photo of the Cuyahoga River looking towards the Falls (which is to be torn down soon – they claim there is another falls behind this but this is actually part of the dam used by Ohio Edison or FirstEnergy for electricity), next up is just a photo of the river again (I must have thought it looked artsy and wanted to share), then there is the photo I’m not sure where I found it but it was on my phone of kids using one of the heaters in the winter months, and lastly a photo by John McMillan of ice skating. I remember sending this photo to my mom and joked that maybe she was somewhere in it! She actually went on to scrapbook a page using the photo.
After graduating high school in 1966 my mom worked as a nurses aid at Green Cross Hospital (which changed to Cuyahoga Falls General Hospital and is now Western Reserve Hospital). My mom loved working in the hospital and it was her dream to become a nurse.
Getting Married & Having a Family
At the age of 19 she got married to her first husband, Joe Sullivan and had my sister. Things didn’t work out with that relationship, Joe wasn’t the right guy for my mom, being a more fly by the seat of your pants type to her responsible nature. Eventually they divorced and my parents met while she was working as a bartender at Falls Recreation, a bowling alley, and I believe she worked in a bank during the day.
On October 2, 1971 my parents got married, oddly enough on my Grandma’s birthday (my mom’s mom). A year-plus later I came along and her family was complete (you do stop at perfection, right? Okay, I’ll stop before my sister gets mad).
By this point in time Cindy became a “stay at home” mom. But she didn’t believe in pampering us, we walked to and from school, even in the rain (that’s what umbrella’s are for – I tell you, I wish I still had an umbrella now like I had when I walked home from school – it was clear with red trim and a red curved handle and the top completely wrapped around you, so your entire top stayed dry, not just your head!). This caused issues with the other parents because they wanted her to help with carpools.
But in the grand scheme of things I can’t complain about my childhood. I had chores to do (dishes, floors, bathrooms – nothing horrible – but ask 18 year old me and I’m sure I would say something completely different). But she let me be a kid, and for that I am eternally grateful. She didn’t make me feel bad for sneaking downstairs to my play room and play with my dolls when many would have thought me “uncool” (though when I was 5 she did hide my Fisher Price People from me, and that hurt).
I have so many times when odd things happened that always looked bad for my mom. For example one night, I was probably in third grade (I think?) and my mom and I were sitting at opposite ends of the couch. She stretched out and ended up kicking me in the mouth. The next day at church people asked me happened, and me being my usual, blunt self stated “my mom kicked me”.
But even before that when I was probably 4, my mom would take my sister and I to the band show at the high school. My favorite was always watching the majorettes, I always thought their costumes were so pretty. Anyhow on this particular hot August day I was to clean my room. When my mom came in to inspect she found a faux rhinestone bracelet on the floor. She got mad and flung it at me and where one of the clasps that was missing a stone cut the skin just below my eye. All of the sudden there was blood everywhere – and that night as I had a small gash when the people around us asked what was wrong with me, I just said “my mom threw a bracelet at me”.
I’m pretty sure there was at least one more instance like this that I am forgetting, I really am surprised that social services was never called to our house.
When I Was Sick
I was a sickly kid. Not in a really super bad way, but I was a kid who every year during the change of seasons, I came down with a cold. Actually, it was more than a cold, it was croup (most people get this once a lifetime, I got it at least 3 times a year – when I was a teen it was more like laryngitis that lingered forever, oddly it went away when my mom quit smoking when I was 19 years old and my dad began smoking outside only).
Anyhow, my mom always took good care of me. When I had to have my tonsils out. When I came down with the chicken pox (she figured it out because we were watching Donny & Marie and I didn’t want any popcorn. I kept itching my side and that’s when she made me pull up the top of my shirt and see I had a spot. My sister had already had chicken pox so it wasn’t a big deal. It was the second half of second grade that I came down with it. Daddy got in trouble because he went out to work in the garage while my mom and sister went to church and I did the one thing I wasn’t suppose to do – I itched a spot on my face and made the scab come off – RIGHT UNDER MY EYE. I was fortunate, only on a bad day can you see the scar (like when I’m super tired). But she didn’t know that (my sister has a spot in the middle of her forehead).
Another memory of when I wasn’t feeling too good my mom always called me pumpkin, not sure why, but thinking of it now brings a smile to my face.
When My Grandfather Fairhurst Moved In
When I was in fifth grade my Grandfather Fairhurst moved in with us. His third wife (the one he married after my grandmother) decided she wasn’t going to put up the abuse anymore and divorced him. He returned to Ohio and somehow ended up at our house, living in the basement.
As I’ve said before in a previous post, my grandfather was not a nice man. I didn’t mind it when he first moved in because I wasn’t aware of how my life and my mom’s was about to change. After about 6 weeks I acted like my grandfather wasn’t even in my presence (which I think freaked my mom out a little). He sat across the table from me and I’d act like he wasn’t there. He took over the television (which for an 11 year old is a big deal after school in the winter time), we think he is part of the reason my first dog disappeared, and didn’t have too many nice things to say about anything.
While all this happened, my mom slowly began to change. She became a shell of herself, and just began sitting at the table while she smoked cigarettes (several packs a day) and played solitaire. Her dad sat on the opposite side of the table doing the same thing.
Finally Harold met someone and got married again, Connie was her name. They didn’t stay married for long, my dad always figured that she must have thought he was loaded or something. Was she in for a surprise. But his stint at our house had taken it’s toll on my mom. She slept all the time and began complaining of headaches and she was just a mess. All the suppressed memories and horror of her childhood caught up with her when her dad moved in. And like my dad will say to this day, it never hit him how long my grandfather had lived with us.
After a while my mom was encouraged to get some professional help. In the span of 5-8 years, my mom saw 2 therapists. The first encouraged her to do the one thing she had always wanted, she went back to school and became a nurse.
Cindy Becomes a Nurse
In the Fall of 1988 my mom enrolled in a year-long program to become a licensed practical nurse at the W. Howard Nichol School of Practical Nursing. Never had I seen my mother work so hard (well, except for cleaning). Every night she made flash cards to learn her anatomy, studied with some of the other students in the mornings at Arby’s and came up with clever ways to remember who did what (no disrespect to people with mental issues – but the one that I always remembered was “Dingy Dorothea” as a way to remember Dorothea Dix who advocated on behalf of the mentally ill, it may have not been the most positive way to remember her, but here it is 31 years later and I still know this fact).
Cindy didn’t miss a day of school and she came in 2nd in her class (and that made her so mad). I remember attending her graduation in September 1989. On October 25 she made her way to Columbus with her other classmates and took the State Boards. She passed!
She initially got a job on 3rd shift working at a nursing home but it didn’t take her long to realize that was not her calling. A few months later she got a job working for allergists near Akron Children’s Hospital and this was the job she loved. She ended up learning how to make the allergy vaccines and giving a majority of the shots.
Her Real Calling
While my mom worked as a nurse, I finished high school, went to college (twice) and then finally found someone to marry. But this is when I gave my mom I believe to this day was the one thing she truly loved being more than anything else, “Gramma”.
I have always said to my kids that I wish I had their Gramma as my mom. She did things with them that she never thought of doing with me – swimming in the backyard pool (you know the ones, the blow up wading pools), took them to fairs (they were unsafe when I was little) and pretty much got them everything their hearts desired along with a hefty dose of her love.
As you can tell from this post, I’ve filled it with my mom’s own thoughts from her scrapbooking pages. She loved to scrapbook. I took her to a crop at my aunt’s in I think 2011 and she was hooked. I recommended she do what I did when I began a few months before, pick an event where you have a handful of photos and go. She did and never looked back. Here is one of my favorite photos she did – a picture of her as a child and as she looked when she did the page.
Sunday April 1 was Easter Sunday and it was a wonderful day. We had dinner at my parents house, we played a board game and I showed both parents the many photos I took from my family’s trip to Washington D.C. over Spring Break (we missed the cherry blossoms by a few days). I honestly can’t remember a better holiday.
Then the day after Easter 2018 our world was blown apart. While my kids were at her home after school my mom suddenly got very sick and an ambulance was called to take her to the hospital. She ended up being there for about a week and had to be hooked up to a respiratory tube to breath. It took them a while to figure out that she had Influenza B that attacked her lungs. She was already struggling with atrial fibrillation and having difficulty breathing but this was a lot. I still have the message she left me on my phone, telling me she was going home that Saturday. They wanted her to go into an assisted living place so she could undergo physical therapy of walking up and down the steps again but she refused and did it at home.
As time went on my mom continued to have issues with her breathing. She began going to see one of the doctors she worked for wondering if some of her issues could have been handled in a different way as one of her doctors for years had chalked it up to her being overweight and needing to lose a few pounds. But she was barely eating and I think that played havoc with her body as that can make you not lose weight sometimes too.
Monday, May 28, 2018
I know her body was still weakened after having the Influenza B and on Monday, May 28 in the morning, my mom died. It happened quick. One minute she was talking on the phone to her above friend/doctor, she had chatted with one of her co-workers about how she was feeling on Facebook Messenger that morning, sent my dad to Wal-Mart to pick up some things. Then reminded him he needed to water the flowers, he came in and saw her struggling and called 9-1-1.
My mom knew she wasn’t feeling well all weekend. She had told me a couple of times on the phone that she may go to the hospital for a breathing treatment. So when my dad called me and told me they were headed to the hospital I poorly assumed that this was the case. I took my time getting ready, it was going to be a while before they were going to let me see her.
Little did I know when I got a second phone call a half hour later from my sister what was really happening. I live the closest to the hospital they took her too, the one I told you about before where she worked as a nurses aid after high school, Western Reserve Hospital, aka Green Cross Hospital.
My husband and I weren’t in the ER waiting room long when the doctor came out and said they had done everything they could. I never cried so much at once. Never had my chest felt so heavy. And for days.
The paramedics began working on my mom as soon as they got to the house. A neighbor claims they were punching her chest pretty good as they left the house and got into the ambulance with her trying to re-start her heart. My dad said that they did get it going briefly in the ambulance and once again in the hospital. But as I am the family historian and when I made a genealogy appointment at the health department and I got a copy of her death certificate it was called before I ever got to the hospital. My dad kept having them work on her, but after 45 minutes he finally said stop. They already had.
A Mix of Feelings
I don’t think you can ever be prepared to lose a parent. I was not expecting to lose my mom that day. If you notice I stress the date. That is what I do. She died on Memorial Day. I can’t have every Memorial Day ruined now because it happened to land on the observed day of Memorial Day (it’s bad enough it was the day before my husband’s birthday – yeah, she really screwed him, and she really liked my husband).
Telling my kids was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Especially my daughter, as my mom had made her the center of her world. She could do no wrong, and she pretty much knew it. My son on the other hand you have to be careful even now. He went the other way with things, getting mad at her for never going to the hospital and having that breathing treatment.
My dad, he was really mad for a very long time. I think he was a bit like my son, wondering why didn’t she do the breathing treatment, why didn’t she tell us she was as sick as she was.
But in the end, her quality of life was going downhill and maybe it’s good it happened fast, that she didn’t have to suffer anymore than she did.
But on Monday, May 28 you couldn’t tell me all this. I was the one who was told the least (well, outside of my children that is). I was the baby of the family, and in many ways my mom still saw me as such. When she had doctor’s appointments she told me what was going on but in layman’s terms so I understood it all (I can’t stand the sight of bags of blood so I knew a medical career was never for me). She also knew I got anxious when my parents had to get procedures. I was the internal worrier even if I didn’t let the world see it.
My mom and I had a very complex relationship. But until the end she was my mom. For me we were never friends or buddies like many mom’s and daughter’s do. She was the mom and I was the child. She was critical of me even the day before she died. My last phone conversation was her hanging up on me because I was in the middle of fixing a taco salad for dinner and wouldn’t rush off to turn on the Cleveland Indians baseball game. Later that night she messaged me how it ended and that was our last interaction.
Cynthia Anne Fairhurst was a woman who only saw black and white, right or wrong. It was a world with no grays. So I often disappointed her because she couldn’t understand why I did things (for myself or with my kids even). My dad could, and most of their arguments stemmed around why my sister and I did things that my mom thought was just not the way to do it (yeah, examples of this are escaping me at the moment).
I remember after I graduated from college in 1996 (the first time, the 2nd time was when I went for 1 entire year and got my history degree, that was 1999). Our family had planned a vacation to Williamsburg (family being me, my mom and my dad). My dad ended up having jury duty so he didn’t go. He thought being a fireman would get him out of it, he was wrong, but stating he had vacation plans would have (insert person slapping their forehead emoji here). So my mom and I went on the trip together.
This still makes me laugh because I love history and my mother doesn’t. Williamsburg was fun, for some reason she only ever remembers George Wythe’s House (he was a lawyer and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, last odd fact, if you do relative finder using your FamilySearch.org account, I’m supposedly related to George Wythe on my mom’s side of the family, she would have been so excited!). She also thought it weird when I got emotional at Yorktown – I could have been walking where George (Washington) walked! How does she not see that as thrilling (and must not have noticed me doing the same thing 7 years before when my parents and I visited Washington, D.C. and we went to Mount Vernon). I can’t even remember what she was lecturing me about but we didn’t even make it to Jamestown because I was done. I remember her telling me the exit is there but I didn’t care – I was going home. And that is what I did.
I still have yet to see Jamestown.
But I do have a lot of funny memories of that trip. Somehow every time we tried to get to our hotel (the now defunct George Washington Inn) we ended up at Camp Peary (here I thought it was an Army base but it’s apparently a training place for the CIA – that’s even funnier). It was always our turn around point. Here my husband figured it out on our honeymoon seven years later, there are 2 highways side by side and we always got on the wrong one to get to the hotel. Oddly enough he couldn’t find Camp Peary so the one day I drove and found it in minutes. I’m talented that way.
But my mom and I did have some really good times. In 2000-2001 we signed up for the National City Bank Broadway Series in Cleveland where once a month we went and saw touring Broadway shows. That year they had some really good ones – Tony & Tina’s Wedding, Fame, Cabaret, The Scarlet Pimpernel (so funny!), Swing!, and my mom’s favorite, Fiddler on the Roof. She enjoyed hearing “If I Were a Rich Man” the way Theodore Bikel sang it. When I emailed who I thought was Theodore Bikel’s agent to see if such a recording existed (it does not) I ended up chatting via email with Theodore Bikel himself!
Another love of my mother’s was watching the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, so back in 2002 when they came to Cleveland the first time I took her. And we had front row seats (I thought we were going to be row 2). She was so happy, she always commented to everyone that if the girls hadn’t shaved she would have known it as she was so close she could count the hair on their legs (sadly no photos, we didn’t have phones with camera’s quite yet, or if the world did they weren’t common yet).
We also watched a lot of baseball and football together. She was the die-hard Cleveland fan where my heart took me to other places. I love the New York Football Giants (because Bud Carson cut Matt Bahr before the 1990 season and then Raul Allegre got injured and Matt joined the team, I’m sure it helps the Giants won the Super Bowl that year but 30 years later I’m still a fan) and the New York Yankees (I thought I was a fan of both teams but in 1997 during the Divisional Playoffs my mom and I went to game 5 with my cousin and her husband, I claimed I didn’t care who won with my Omar Vizquel jersey and my Yankees baseball cap, but when Sandy Alomar hit that home run off of Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th and the Yankees lost, I wasn’t happy Cleveland won, I was devastated the Yankees lost, and that’s how I discovered I was a Yankees fan). Anyhow – we went years watching games together. And though Cleveland went to a couple of World Series but never won, I am happy she watched my Yankees with me to see them. She was happy. And though she preferred the Indians I know she was like me and enjoyed watching those Joe Torre led Yankees teams of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. When Derek retired I remember her posting a story on my Facebook page stating “can you believe we watched his entire career?” It was wonderful.
Granted, I’ve cried a river writing this blog over the past 3 or 4 days. Normally tears I shed for my mom are often unexpected. In the middle of the grocery store when I see something I know she would love and I pick up my phone to tell her only to remember she is no longer here. When I see something happen with my sports teams that I know she would be excited about (for example Mariano Rivera making it into the Hall of Fame unanimously – she liked Mo and Derek Jeter a few years later though he missed unanimously by 1). When the kids do something awesome and go to share it.
I miss my mom. At times I feel like I was still nothing but a disappointment but more and more it’s just the fun memories I remember. Everyone tells you this but it’s the truth, tell your parents you love them. Hug them (I know it’s difficult presently because of Covid, so glad my mom wasn’t around for this). You never know when that last time might be.
Thank you for going through this journey, I surprised I found so many items on my mom’s blog to use. I rather enjoyed having her words intermingle with my own to tell her story.
The theme for this week’s 52 Ancestor’s in 52 Weeks is “Fortune”. To my knowledge none of my ancestors were rich. They all were hard workers, many working in the mines (south central Pennsylvania relatives and those who immigrated from England to Jefferson County, Ohio), or were laborers, waggoneers, chairmakers, soldiers, farmers, stenographers, store owners, truckers, firemen, construction workers, sheet metal workers, rubber workers, nurses, and apartment managers.
The real fortune for me are the records and documents that my family left behind. Each and every piece, from a photograph to a census to a newspaper article all help give me a better perspective of all the people who help me become me.
This is why I do my family history. And though this is probably one of the shortest posts of these themes, I am grateful for each and every ancestor, because without them, I wouldn’t be here.
For this week’s theme of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I’m going out of my comfort zone and headed to a part of my family I haven’t done a great deal of research on. Part of it is because all (or at least most) of these people are based in Lancashire, England. And I’m actually pretty sure I may have more than the William Fairhurst’s that are listed here. But because I haven’t properly focused on my family across the pond as I should have (I may have mentioned it before, but my goal has always been to focus on England research when I get other branches there as well – but I should probably start because I may never get out of Pennsylvania, and I suppose that is a fact I should begin to face).
So this week for my “name’s the same” post I will focus on at least 4 William Fairhurst’s and how they are all about 20 years or less apart and how it’s so incredibly easy to get them confused,
William Fairhurst (1870-1943)
My first William Fairhurst was born on 22 July 1870 and is the older brother of my great-grandfather, James Fairhurst. William was the second oldest of my great-great-grandparents, Thomas and his wife, Rachel Topping (James was their 2nd youngest of a total of 10 children, William was 20 years older than James).
On 16 Dec 1893, William married Elizabeth Ann Seddon. They had a son, Frederick, who was born in 1897.
William decided to head to Jefferson County, Ohio to make a better life for his family. William sailed to the United States via Boston, Massachusetts on the Saxonia from Liverpool, England on 29 June 1909. His destination was Amsterdam, Ohio to join his brother and friends to be a coal miner. (As a note, 7 out of 10 living siblings of William’s emigrated to the United States, including my great-grandfather, who headed there in 1913). His wife, Elizabeth, joined him later in 1916. His son Fred opted to stay living in England.
William became a naturalized citizen of the United States on 21 May 1915.
By 1930 William was no longer working in the mines but was working for the Saalfield Publishing Company in Akron, Ohio, which was one of the largest publisher’s of children’s books in the world between 1900 and 1977. William continued to work here until he died of cancer on 3 February 1943.
William Fairhurst (1841-?)
Our next William is our last William’s uncle. Born in 1841, he was the older brother of Thomas Fairhurst, my great-great-grandfather (making this William my 2nd-great-grand-uncle).
He had a son named William C. Fairhurst, so this brings my total to 5. I was unable to find a definitive death date for William. One that came up repeatedly was 1915 – but I hate to commit when I’m not really certain that it was the same William.
William Fairhurst (1829-1876)
William Fairhurst was the fourth child of my 4th-great-grandparents, William Fairhurst and Alice Winnard. He was born on 27 May 1829.
In 1850 he married Ellen Bentham and they had 12 children (and yes, one was named William, so there is a 6th!). He was a coal miner by trade. He passed away at the age of 46 in 1876.
William Fairhurst (1797-1875)
This William is the only one that is my direct descendant – my 4th-great-grandfather who was born on 27 Jan 1797 in Pemberton, Lancashire, England. He married Alice Winnard on 26 May 1819 in Wigan, Lancashire, England and they had at least 7 children before Alice passed away in 1856.
William was an agricultural laborer. His oldest son, John, is my 3rd-great-grandfather who did not follow in his dad’s footsteps and became a coal miner.
William died in February 1875 outliving all but 2, possibly 3, of his children (I haven’t found a date of death of his son, Thomas).
What I Learned About Looking into my William’s
I haven’t worked on the Fairhurst and Boone branch of my family tree much over the 4.5 years I’ve been working on my genealogy. Trouble is, I should start looking into these people. Yes, the records are confusing because I’m not as familiar with the places and set-up of documents as I am in Pennsylvania where I recognize towns. But this is all about learning, and maybe it’s time to leave my comfort zone.
I do know that it was really easy to start down the rabbit holes and I have so much to learn about this branch. The thrill of finding new people in just a few days of researching brought back part of the reason I got into this hobby – the huge puzzle of it all. Sometimes I get caught up working on citations and adding documents, and (shocker) that’s not always fun.
So here is to finding more Fairhurst’s in the future.
The week 9 prompt of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “multiples”. I am taking an indepth look at my great-great grandfather, Randall Childers, who my cousin Darlene referred to as “the bigamist” as he moved away and remarried having multiple wives.
Randall Childers was born in Wells Tannery, Pennsylvania when it was still a part of Bedford County on 17 January 1840 to Abraham Childers and Mary Ann Green. He was the oldest of their 3 children (Mary Ann had another son, Jonathan Weiser, from a previous relationship), the others being Rachel (1842-1876) and Fayetta (1844-1924). His dad was a chair maker while his mother kept house.
The Civil War
In 1861 at the age of 21 Randall enlisted for the Union joining the 77th Volunteer Pennsylvania Infantry as a part of Company A and saw action in the following battles:
Battle of Shiloh
Siege of Corinth
Battle of Stones River
Battle of Chicamauga
Siege of Chattanooga
Battle of Resaca
Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
Siege of Atlanta
Second Battle of Franklin
Battle of Nashville
Sarah Jane Fesler
In December 1865, Randall mustered out of the army at the close of the Civil War. He returned home to Pennsylvania where he married Sarah Jane Fesler around 1866 (I have yet to find a marriage record for an exact date, this was noted on the 1900 census that they had been married for 34 years). In December 1866 their daughter, Mary Etta Childers was born. This union would provide a total of 9 children:
Mary Etta Childers – 1866-1941
George Harry Childers – 1868-1941
Abraham Childers – 1870-1946
Jennie Childers – 1873-1934
William Dodson Childers – 1876-1959
Elizabeth Helen Childers – 1883-1968
Bertha Childers – 1886-1963
Bessie Viola Childers – 1890-1963
Charles Peter Childers – 1893-1970
After initially coming back from the war, Randall’s occupation was listed as “laborer” but by 1880 it was listed as a miner on the census. He began receiving a Civil War pension in 1879. By 1900 he is listed as a farmer, a vocation he takes with him when he moves to Tennessee by 1905. On his pension papers he changes where his payment goes and lists himself as a widower, noting his daughter, Jennie Childers (or Mrs. A.S. May) as his closest living relative).
I always thought it strange that Randall moved to Tennessee as I didn’t recall any relatives there. But after doing extra research on him, during the Civil War he was stationed at Whiteside Bridge. Though Loudon is not even the county where the bridge is located, it’s not that far.
On 8 July 1907, Randall Childers marries the former Nancy Elizabeth Rockey (I believe this is a married name, still trying to find her maiden name) in Loudon County, Tennessee.
During his 12.5 years of marriage to Nannie Childers, for 11.5 years Randall was married to two women simultaneously as Sarah Jane Fesler passed away on 19 January 1920. Sarah still lived in Pennsylvania with their children.
I’ve not seen an obituary for Randall but the post listed on Sarah’s Find A Grave clearly states they had “issues”. I have no idea what the “issues” were that made my great-great-grandfather to move a few states south and begin a new life, but they must have been something.
The word “power” brings so many different ideas into ones head. Merriam-Webster defines power as:
ability to act or produce an effect
possession of control, authority, or influence over others
powers – an order of angels
the number of times as indicated by an exponent that a number occurs as a factor in a product (oh my gosh, I’d completely forgotten about this)
a source or means of supplying energy
magnification (again – totally didn’t think of this)
the probabilty of rejecting the null hypotheseis in a statistical test when a particular alternative hypothesis happens to be true.
And that is it’s meaning as a noun (it can be a verb and an adjective too).
Though it was the source of supplying energy that popped into my head initially but I don’t really know how quickly my ancestors got electricity into their homes to make their lives easier. And despite being the history buff I don’t think I ever took the time to learn when this became the “norm”.
And since I have not yet found a mathematician in my family – exerting one’s authority over others will be how I approach the theme for week 8 in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.
The person who comes to mind when I think of someone exerting power over others is my maternal grandfather, Harold Fairhurst.
Harold was born on 11 April 1922 in Amsterdam, Ohio in Jefferson County to James Fairhurst and his wife, the former Phoebe Boone.
Unlike my most my relatives who have me stuck in Pennsylvania, James and Phoebe came to the United States from Leigh, Lancashire, England in late 1913 (James) and early 1915 (Phoebe). In 1920 James had become a naturalized citizen taking the Oath of Allegiance on 14 May 1920.
While James worked as a Coal Miner, Phoebe ran a boarding house. However, by 1930 the Fairhurst’s and their 6 children (Elsie, Wilfred, Edwin, Doris, Harold and Evelyn) moved from Jefferson County to Akron, Ohio where James began working for the rubber companies and then for some of the WPA projects.
From stories I’ve heard life was not easy for the boys. Phoebe pitted brother against brother and most resolutions came with their fists. Phoebe also expected all her children to hand over their paychecks to her to help support the family. From my own experiences with my grandfather, I can easily see his not liking this, and it explains why he was married at the age of 21 in 1943.
Unlike his brothers, my grandfather did not work for the rubber companies, he was a construction worker and became a Mason. He was also a golf pro, but both vocations had him unemployed a few months each year because that is how life is in Northeast Ohio.
As I stated before, Harold got married to his first of 5 wives in 1943. His marriage to Helen Juanita Ferguson did not last, ending in divorce 6 January 1947. Shortly after their divorce was final Harold meets and marries my grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming on 29 June 1947. They had 5 children, my mother being the oldest.
My grandfather was not a nice man. He was verbally and physically abusive and repeatedly cheated on my grandmother (I was told by my mother that his one girlfriend was Catholic and that is when the older 3 children attended Catholic school).
I don’t really have any happy memories of my grandfather. When I was little he lived about an hour or so away from us (translated – for a little girl it seemed like forever to get there but after Googling the distance between Cuyahoga Falls and Lodi it is apparently only 36 to 45 minutes away – yes, I’m blown away). My grandmother finally divorced my grandfather in 1968 because he was having an affair with the girl next door, who became wife #3. Mary Lynn, was the same age as my mother. I think this was why when she asked me to call her “Grandma Mary” it made me feel uncomfortable. I guess lucky for me we did not visit frequently and soon his wife and three kids moved to Tennessee. The one perk was that these kids were basically my age, so I had playmates. But I was never fond of my grandfather. Ever.
But as I’ve said before, my grandfather was not a nice man. When he was married to my grandmother he would beat her and their children horribly for what I consider dumb reasons (they left a mess in the living room with their toys, basic kids being kids reasons). My grandmother was a terrific bowler, if he didn’t think she bowled good enough he would make her practice over and over and over again when she got home, it didn’t matter that children were sleeping and had school the next day. And if she still didn’t bowl to his expectations, he threw her into the wall.
As time went on my grandfather would break his daughter’s arm. I remember he gave me what is called an Indian Rug Burn on my arm when I was joking with him. He didn’t think it was funny and grabbed my arm, twisting and squeezing it simultaneously. I was in 7th, possibly 8th grade.
I don’t know if my grandfather got his bullying like power from being the youngest boy in his family – constantly being tormented by his older brothers? If he just didn’t live up to the same standards his brothers did to his mother? Rumor has it when Wilfred, the oldest of the 3 Fairhurst boys, but the second to die, leaving just Harold, Phoebe, their mother, told my grandfather that now she had no sons.
Ouch. Who says that to their child?
It just shows how words can hold the same sort of destructive power as fists.
This week I have been scratching my head about how to proceed with this week’s theme of Amy Johnson Crow’s writing challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The goal is to examine your sources of information and share the unusual source that helped you solve a mystery (or even a basic find). Sometimes there are other ways you can interpret a prompt, I wish I could be creative enough to find an alternate meaning with this one, but nothing is coming to me in any form.
I’ve come to the conclusion I’m boring. In a hope of discovering an odd source I’d forgotten I’ve analyzed a 67-page report of all my citations in my genealogy program. I have the regular bunch of standard items: censuses, birth certificates, death certificates, city directories, marriage licenses, newspapers, courthouse records (wills and deeds), and lastly DNA. But I guess I don’t find any of these to be “unusual” sources.
I even asked my husband his interpretation of the prompt. He took a while to respond but was way off of what the exercise was, but hey, at least he tried.
My Unusual Source
A question I never thought to ask my Grandma when she was alive was how did she (Anna Maria Morgart) and Leroy Blair meet (to be fair, I never asked my Grandma Metzger how she met my grandfather, Harold Fairhurst, and no one seems to know that either). Even my dad never thought to ask. I wondered if maybe it happened at a Fourth of July picnic hosted by by Grandmother’s aunt, Mrs. Bartley Noggle (aka Anna Rebekah Morgart). Below is a newspaper article from the Everett Press on Friday, 7 July 1933 and for a while I really thought this picnic was how they met.
Other thoughts from when I initially found the newspaper article was how thrilled I was that my Grandma still had a relationship with her dad’s family (as he died when she was 3 in 1917).
Mrs. Wilbur May, also mentioned, was the wife of my Grandfather’s cousin, Wilbur May, who was also his best friend. My dad said he only ever saw his dad cry once and that as when Wilbur died of cardiac failure at the age of 46 in 1957.
But over the past year I have been going through photos in boxes and I recently found the following note on the back of a photo she had taken in 1933 where in her own handwriting states that she met Leroy in April 1933.
Talk about being bummed!
So it just goes to show you can come up with solid theory’s but sometimes you don’t know where you will find a fact that will shatter it. I think I preferred my Fourth of July picnic better, as now I’ll never know how they met. Unless there is another nugget of happiness on the back of a photo I’ve not yet uncovered.
As for my Grandma – along with Joe I too liked her a lot. There is a photo of him with her in this grouping of photos. But we will have to find out about him another day.
This week’s theme for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Johnson Crow is Valentine. I was fortunate enough to have stumbled upon this Valentine about a month or so ago when going through boxes in the basement at my parents house, well, I guess it’s really my dad’s house now.
My dad has plans for the basement and my mom had all her clutter located there. It included decorations galore that I don’t think she ever used, filling box after box in our family room. Many of these she had there for my sister and I to go through – I don’t think she ever thought we’d be going through them as we did. Or at least how I did. My sister was smart and stayed home this day. I do have a box of more items to bring to my house (as I told my husband – I may use them to decorate here and there and this way I don’t have to spend money on items as these would work).
But going from box to box I found a box that was from my Grandma’s house (yes, the infamous Anna Maria Morgart here on my blog – I should just make this about her life). I remember opening it up and laughing – I think every pack of wrapping paper I ever sold in elementary school was in this box placed on top of all the other contents.
But as I kept going I found this beautiful Valentine. It turns out it was from when my parents were dating. It was for my dad from my mom.
I have no idea when she sent it, I’m guessing maybe their first year of dating? When I showed my dad I got nothing, but he isn’t an overly sentimental person. But I loved finding this. My mom wasn’t one to show a lot of emotion so that she did this in their relationship was so sweet.
And the big red heart is like a satin material, like a big ribbon and it just makes this card. They don’t make cards like this anymore.
So a thank you to my dad, for letting me use his Valentine, and a thank you to my Grandma, for saving it all these years (I found a birthday card I got for her in the mix as well, probably when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade too, made me tear up).
This week’s theme for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “In the Kitchen”. The first thing that popped into my head was how the past few Christmases I feel as if I have the ghosts of my mother, her mother, and her mother, all in the room with me helping me bake.
There is a specific cookie that I make that has me think of these lovely ladies in my life. The recipe is for Drop Sugar Cookies, you know the ones that are made with sour cream and are extra moist. And what I have found has made my great-grandmother’s recipe unique is that she added nutmeg. I have also found that the colored sugar that you sprinkle on the cookies helps to make it taste good as well – but the real treat is the red hot. Those red hots make them extra yummy!
Picture if you would, the recipe, do you think I can find it? Of course not, it wasn’t written by my Great Grandma but it was by my mom (I photo copied her recipe card when I started making cookies for my own kids.
The Cookie Sheets
About a year or so before my mom passed away she got me some heavy duty insulated aluminum cookie sheets. These are 2 of the 5 (sometimes 6) cookies sheets that I use when I bake my cookies (primarily because they are my largest pans).
The final step in the cookie baking process is taking the cookies off the cookie sheets and putting them on my cooling racks. The above spatula was my grandmother’s. I remember I took it from her house after she passed away. My mom and I went over to clean up a little bit and I saw it and I took it. I’ve never seen a spatula like this in the store and I know how great they are as my mom use to have 2. I wasn’t taking any chances on anyone else wanting it. And because of this key tool, I am able to get cookies off a cookie sheet spectacularly because of it’s finely beveled edge.
All Together Now
You put all these items together and I feel like there are 4-generations of ladies in my kitchen baking with me every holiday – Mildred Laura Dunbar, Alberta Lou Fleming, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst, and me!
This occurred to me my first Christmas after my mom passed away in 2018. It was a hard holiday and it’s the little things like baking cookies that take a lot of me (my mom and I shared baking responsibilities each year – she’d bake cookies with my daughter and they would do 2 types of cookies [Russian Tea Cakes & Peanut Blossoms] and I made 2 types[cut-out cookies and the drop sugar cookies]).
I miss these three ladies so very much. My great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar, was the first person I knew well that passed away. When her daughter, Alberta Lou Fleming, my grandmother, passed away in 2006, I was sad. I wish I would have known her better, but she moved to Florida when I was little so I never quite had the connection with her as I did with my other grandma, and even her mom (my great-grandma use to babysit me when I was little and she entertained me with her costume jewelry and clothes and made me scrambled eggs). My mom’s death came unexpectedly in 2018 and even now, almost 3 years later I have days where I’m just sad).
But without these ladies, I could not bake a great batch of cookies.
Was there a cookie you use to bake with a relative, or that you make because it was passed down with your family? Share with me in the comments!