Heart of a Southern Woman

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Harry Langhorne Houchins, Blind, Extraordinary Banjo Player! 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #42

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Harry Langhorne Houchins was born May 11, 1887 according to his death certificate. However, according to his U.S. World War I Draft Registration Card, he was born January 20 , 1887.  It always amazes me how the official documents in our lives can disagree! We know that he died  26 Feb. 1973 because several people I know attended the funeral. 

Harry  was my maternal Great Uncle and  I remember him well. From the time I was five, I remember his coming to visit every so often. He would sit on the front porch, play his banjo and sing, and I would sit at his feet and say “again, again, again!” I adored him! Uncle Harry was blind. For a long time, he was the only blind person I knew. He used a cane and got along very well! I now know that Harry came down from the mountains of Virginia, to Richmond where we lived, to join his cousin John Watts Spangler, called “Babe” on his regular radio show on radio station WRVA . Harry wasn’t one of the regular band members who played on the show, but he was a regular substitute, a tribute to his talent. The regulars included John Watts Spangler known as Babe, and the Old Virginia Fiddler, Dudley Spangler, also called Babe, Charles Langhorne Spangler called “Tump” and Dave Pearson.   J.W. Babe and Tump were brothers, Dudley and Harry were their first cousins! Music ran in the blood of this family! Dudley married Tump and J.W.’s sister, read their blog posts on the links above along with  the others. They were characters and yet quite accomplished–all of them.  

Harry never looked like the young man on the cover of this album when I knew him, He looked more like the man playing the banjo on the video with Jason Harris. He had white hair, a white beard, and was about that same size. Yes, he often wore a cap like that too! That could be my great Uncle Harry, but it is not. Watching this man play the banjo makes my heart ache for my Uncle Harry, who has been  gone for over 40 years now. He was quite a presence.

Harry was the son of  Walter Thomas Houchins and Evelyn Langhorne, both of whom I have written about in the past. His sister was my grandmother Kate, Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kerse. His mother died in childbirth when Harry was just 13, he’d be blind by 16–what a life. Two of the most significant people in his life, maybe more, were blind from a disease that is still evident in some of our family, retinosis pigmentosa. It causes people to go blind often at a very young age. Harry’s mother was going blind when she died at age 34, her father James Steptoe Langhorne, and her sister Fannie Langhorne Spangler (mother of Babe and Tump) were blind also!  James Steptoe  Langhorne, like Harry, went blind in his teens. 

Right after their mother’s death, the six living Houchins children were scattered out among different family members or friends. Evelyn died in 1900, her father in 1905. The kids’ father abandoned them, moving out-of-state, remarrying, and having another child by  1902, and a second by 1905. On the 1910 census, Harry can be seen living with his neighbor and lifelong friend, Joseph Hall.  By 1920 he is living in Rockingham, North Carolina with his father, his stepmother who is his same exact age, Dad is 65, Stepmom Lena is 32, Harry is 32, Lena’s daughters are Pearl–17 and Lucille–15 years old.  By the 1930 census he is still with his then 75-year-old Dad,and  his 42-year-old stepmom. Pearl has left the home, but Lucille apparently got married at 15, like her Mom and her husband and 9-year-old daughter are living with them. By the 1940 census, the children have left the home, and Dad Houchins died in 1937. Harry and his stepmother Lena Elliott Houchins are both 53. I wasn’t yet born, and they had lived a lifetime! So, when I was six years old in 1955, Uncle Harry was 68 years old. He lived until he was 86 years old! I remember visiting him several times, and once meeting Lena. My mother told us Lena was his housekeeper! She never mentioned that she was his stepmother. I never knew she had children with my grandfather Walter Thomas Houchins until I did the genealogical research! More family secrets. But I suspect the real secret is that they never actually got married. I have never been able to find a marriage certificate for Walter Thomas and Lena Elliott. But they lived together 37 years, so they certainly had a common law marriage! 

 While playing the banjo was Harry’s fondest past time, he also was trained by the Commission of the Blind to weave rugs, and to read braille. He enjoyed both of those things. He listened to a lot of books on tape later in life. Our home, and those of our Aunts, Uncles, and cousins were filled with scatter rugs, very colorful, woven by Uncle Harry! In her book, Both of Me, by Harry’s niece Mary Stuart  (Mary Stuart Houchins,actress and  daughter of Harry’s brother Guy), wrote that when she was ten or eleven, in the late 30’s, Uncle Harry came to see her family in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and lived with them for a year! She says he jumped aboard a moving freight car with his banjo and a farm boy friend of his and traveled from Virginia to Oklahoma! Can you imagine, being blind, yet brave and or stupid enough to jump aboard a moving freight car! We certainly know he was a risk taker!  I remember my Great Uncle Harry fondly, and I can’t hear a banjo today without thinking of him! Sweet memories, joined by research, make the best stories. 

 

 

Harry Langhorne (blind) Houchins (1887 – 1973)
is your grand-uncle
father of Harry Langhorne (blind) Houchins
daughter of Walter Thomas Houchins
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gustavus Ang Voelkler, Another Stellar Musician, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #41

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“Gustavus”, “Gu-sta’-vus!”, I wish you could hear me say this, because I think of his name as being said with a guttural German accent, with a deep baritone voice, and a great deal of dignity! Why I think of him this way I do not know, because I never met the man, but I heard about him, and I know he was highly respected in the family! Gustavus Ang Voelkler was born in 1834 in the Kingdom of Saxony, whose King John he swore allegiance to, before he came to America in 1864. I am not sure where in Saxony he was born, nor have I been able to identify his parents! He arrived in America in 1864 and settled in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, along with his wife Louisa Voelkler, b. 1836 in Saxony, and two of his seven children. His oldest child and daughter, Helen Marie Voelkler, 1849- 1914, became my great-grandmother, and her portrait, seen above, hung in the dining room of my parent’s house, all of my life! She married Robert Fulton Hogue, b. 1850, of the Hogue family from Scotland, a family I have written about often. His son Ludwig, born in Saxony in 1861, grew up to be a dentist in Pennsylvania! They all overcame the culture shock of moving to America, leaving behind the German language and daily life there, and melding, indeed thriving here in America. The other children, born in America, were: John F. Voelkler, 1866;  Louisa, called Lizzie S. Voelkler, 1868;  Ernest J. Voelkler, 1870;  Max Gustavus Voelkler, 1872, ; and Julia Voelkler, 1876. I have pictures of Gustavus’s wife Louisa, his daughter Helen Marie, and his daughter Lizzie. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of Gustavus, I wonder if we can tell what he might look like from his descendants’ portraits?

I say thriving because that is what they obviously did! Gustavus was an extremely talented musician, a pianist and vocalist, among other things. He arrived in the States in 1864, and by 1870 can be found teaching music at the Dickinson Seminary in Williamsport, Pennsylvania!  The short obituary I found says that he served as the principal of the music department at Dickinson, so obviously his talent and managerial abilities were  recognized! There is a book titled History of Lycoming College and Its Predecessor Institutions–Williamsport Academy, Dickinson Seminary, Williamsport Dickinson Junior College, by Charles Scott Williams.  You can read it online and even download it at this link: https://archive.org/details/historyoflycomin00will .  Gustavus Voelkler is listed in this book as being part of the Music Faculty starting in 1870 as far as I could trace.

Dickinson Seminary, Williamsport , Pa, Gustavus Voelkler, completion 1850 History of Lycoming College...

 

Gustavus A. Voelkler, Obituary

Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, Saturday, Nov. 24, 1900.

Vol. 143, Issue 147, pg.4, Source: GenealogyBank.com.

“TAMAQUA, Pa. Nov. 23.– Professor G. A. Voelkler, aged 66, died at the residence of his son-in-law, Victor Fisher, today. Deceased was well-known in musical circles and until recently was principal of the musical department of Dickinson Seminary, at Williamsport, resigning owing to ill-health. He was born in Germany where he received his musical education.”

As it turns out, his daughter Louisa, called Lizzie, became a music teacher at the seminary herself when she was an adult! She obviously followed in her father’s footsteps! I have also found listings in the City Directory that show that Lizzie and Gustavus taught students in their homes. Just two weeks ago, I wrote a post about Marie Kerse Maher, another talented musician and teacher. She was on my mother’s side, and the Voelklers are on my father’s side, so no wonder my brother and sister and my daughters are talented musicians vocally and instrumentally! Actually, we have many musicians in the family, I will list posts about them below. Too bad those musical genes skipped some of us! LOL

On Tuesday afternoon, July 19, 1893, according to the article seen below,  from the Wilkes-Barre Times in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Issue 1087, Page 5,  we see that Gustavus Voelkler won first prize  in a concert , a Saengerfest, or Songfest.  He performed the piece “Waldeinsamkeit” which means Forest Solitude which is a poem written by Ralph Waldo Emerson and put to music. I have included the words by Emerson, and a recording from youtube.com of  Helene Lindqvis and Philipp Vogler singing! Vogler/Voelkler, could they be kin, I will have to investigate!

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Waldeinsamkeit (Forest Solitude)

I do not count the hours I spend
In wandering by the sea;
The forest is my loyal friend,
Like God it useth me.

In plains that room for shadows make
Of skirting hills to lie,
Bound in by streams which give and take
Their colors from the sky;

Or on the mountain-crest sublime,
Or down the oaken glade,
O what have I to do with time?
For this the day was made.

Cities of mortals woe-begone
Fantastic care derides,
But in the serious landscape lone
Stern benefit abides.

Sheen will tarnish, honey cloy,
And merry is only a mask of sad,
But, sober on a fund of joy,
The woods at heart are glad.

There the great Planter plants
Of fruitful worlds the grain,
And with a million spells enchants
The souls that walk in pain.

Still on the seeds of all he made
The rose of beauty burns;
Through times that wear and forms that fade,
Immortal youth returns.

The black ducks mounting from the lake,
The pigeon in the pines,
The bittern’s boom, a desert make
Which no false art refines.

Down in yon watery nook,
Where bearded mists divide,
The gray old gods whom Chaos knew,
The sires of Nature, hide.

Aloft, in secret veins of air,
Blows the sweet breath of song,
O, few to scale those uplands dare,
Though they to all belong!

See thou bring not to field or stone
The fancies found in books;
Leave authors’ eyes, and fetch your own,
To brave the landscape’s looks.

Oblivion here thy wisdom is,
Thy thrift, the sleep of cares;
For a proud idleness like this
Crowns all thy mean affairs.

 

You can hear this read aloud at  http://www.repeatafterus.com/title.php?i=1342&p=t

 

Newspaper article re. Songfest of  1893 where Gustavus A. Voelkler won first prize!  See source in body of post.

 

 

Not only was Gustavus Voelkler a talented musician, but I believe he must have cared a great deal for his family, because I have learned that his family did, his children. I have been told that his son Max  was a favorite uncle of my uncle Fulton, son of Helen Blanche Youngblood, grandsonof Helen Marie Voelkler and  and Robert F. Hogue. In fact, I  understand that my great-uncle R.Clay Hogue visited them often while growing up. Later, in his young adulthood, when Clay decided to attend medical school,  the other Voelkler children got together and paid his way to medical school! What a sacrifice that was, what an incredible way to show your love and committment to family! All the evidence I can find indicates that Gustavus Ang Voelkler was a good  man, a talented man, and an ancestor one can claim with pride. 

 

Gustavus Ang Voelkler (1834 – 1900)
is your 2nd great grandfather
daughter of Gustavus Ang Voelkler
daughter of Helen Marie Voelkler
son of Helen Blanche Hogue
You are the daughter of Cecil Hogue Youngblood

Gustavus Ang Voelkler

Your 2nd great grandfather,   Birth May 1834 in Sachsen,Kingdom of Saxony   

Death 23 Novermber 1900 in Tamaqua, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania

Other posts about ancestors or descendants with great musical talent:

1.  Marie Botto Kerse Maher- the Magnificent Musician–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #39

2.  “On the Tweflth Day of Christmas my True Love Gave to Me, Twelve Drummers Drumming…”

3.  “On the Ninth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to me…nine ladies dancing…”

4.  The Spangler Old time Fiddler Musicians, Babe, Tump, and Dudley

 

 

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Vreeland, Hartman My 7th Great Grandfather and a Founder of the State of New Jersey! –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, # 40

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Hartman Mickelson/Michielse Vreeland was famous in his own little world, and he was my 7th great-grandfather! He was one of the founders of the State of New Jersey! In fact, he is credited with being “the first white man to settle in what is now the city of Passaic“, New Jersey. He actually purchased from the Lenni Lenape Tribe of the Algonkin nation of Indians an island in the Passaic River, now part of Acquackanonk Park where he settled. In Passaic there is a plaque honoring Hartman and thanks to the Passaic County Historical Society, I can now see it and learn about my own grandfather! 

“This tablet is erected to the memory of Hartman Michielse. 
The first white man to set foot in this county, 
who on April 4, 1678, settled on this spot then known as 
Meneheniki Island, which he then purchased from the Indians.”

Isn’t that amazing! The blood of a true pioneer runs through my veins, and my sister and brothers’ veins, my children and grandchildren and cousins! Wow! Hartman’s father, Michael Jansen Vreeland was born in Zeeland, Netherlands in 1610 and died in Bergen, New Jersey, in the American Colonies in 1663. Hartman himself was born 1651 in New Amsterdam, New York and died in Bergen, NJ in 1707. He was a wealthy man as was his wife, Maritje Braecke, 1652-1724.  He and Maritje had 13 children together! He was a skilled wheelwright, a man who made wooden wheels for carts and carriages, although his wealth was inherited according to The History and Genealogy of the Vreeland Family, 1999, by Nicholas Vreeland.

But what a sad time in history for the Native Americans who already lived here,  whose rights of ownership were totally ignored by the Monarchs of England. Look at this bit of history provided by William Winfield Scott, City Historian of Passaic, NJ, Passaic County Historical Society Publication, Sept. 1, 1929:

For perhaps twelve hundred years, previous to A.D. 1678, the Lenni Lenape Tribe of the Algonkin nation of Indians was considered the owner and possessor of all land now included in the limits of the present city of Passaic.  As is well-known in process of time Charles II, of England, ignored the title of the Indians by conveying all land in New Jersey to his brother, the Duke of York, and from him through mesne conveyances, East Jersey became vested in the Lords Proprietors, who granted patents or deeds for the lands, but not until there was produced a deed from the Indians. 

 The first white man to settle in what is now the city of Passaic was Hartman Michielse, who, by deed, dated April 4, 1678, purchased from the Indians an island in the Passaic River, now  (1929) part of Acquackanonk Park, in the First Ward, where he at once settled. 

Adjoining the island were two contiguous tracts of land containing nearly three hundred acres, purchased from the Indians by Christopher Hoagland, a New York fur dealer, in May 1678, and by him conveyed to Hartman Michielse on February 16. 1679.  The latter subsequently divided the same with this three brothers, two of whom settled thereon.  This land was known as the Point and is today (1929) covered by huge mills, business houses and dwellings.  Hartman’s objects in making these purchases were to establish upon the island a fur trading post with the Indians, and, by acquiring the adjacent land, to protect it from competitors.  He was so well satisfied with his purchases that he set about to interest, in addition to his brothers, ten other men, all of Communipaw (Jersey City), fourteen in all, in the purchase of an adjoining tract of thousands of acres called Acquackanonk, which embraced not only all remaining land now comprising the city of Passaic, but included the present cities of Clifton and Paterson, for which a deed was obtained from the Indians, dated March 27, 1679.  The name Michielse became Vreeland, and (members of) this family for many years were the largest real estate owners in the county. 

 From a legal standpoint, deeds from Indians conveyed no title to the land, the real title, as held at present, being derived from the English Sovereign, who claimed it by right of discovery and conquest.  The only right the Indians posses was that of occupancy, but with no title to the fee.  In the United States Supreme Court, Chief Justice Taney held, in the case of Martin et al. vs. Waddell, as reported in 16 Peter, 347: The English possessions in America were not claimed by right of conquest, but by right of discovery.  According to principles of international law, then understood by the civilized powers of Europe, the Indian tribes of the new world were regarded as mere temporary occupants of the soil; and the absolute rights of property and dominion were held to belong to the European nations by which any portion of the new country was first discovered.”

When I read this last paragraph, I thought, oh my gracious, way to “spin” the conquest of the Indians! How very sad not to take responsibility for one’s actions! It makes me so very proud that my grandfather bought the land from the Indians! 

seal of Descendants of Founders of new JeerseyNow I’ve learned that since I am a direct descendant of one of the citizens of New Jersey who settled there before 1702, I am eligible to become a member of the “Descendants of Founders of New Jersey! Touch me…LOL…I was already eligible to be a member in the Grande Dames of Virginia–those with family in the colonial days of Virginia. Now, New Jersey also, and settlers on the Mayflower!  I am not the bravest person in the world, it amazes me that I come from such incredibly adventurous stock! I will have to brave-up to live up to their legacy!

Evelyn Ogden, PhD, has provided a revised and updated book published in 2011 titled  Founders of New Jersey, Brief Biographies by Descendants. It is available to be downloaded as a pdf at this link.   Biographies are included for  the people listed below, of whom, I am pretty sure I am related to six or seven more families! That’s what happens when your family is present at the beginning of settlements and the population is limited. 

Biographical entries include:

DAVID ACKERMAN (1653 – 1710/24)

THOMAS ALGER (16XX – 1687) 

OBADIAH AYERS (1636 – 1694) 

GUILIAEM BERTHOLF (1655 – ABT. 1726)

JOHN BISHOP SR. (1621-1684)

THOMAS BLOOMFIELD SR. (16XX – 1685)

ROBERT BOND (1596 – 1677) 

RICHARD BORDEN (1595/6 – 1671)

ALEXANDER/SANDER BOYER (1618-1661)

JAMES BOWNE (1636 – 1695)

GEORGE BROWN ( 16XX -1717/8)

JAMES BROWN (1656-1715/6) 

MATTHEW CAMFIELD (1604 – 1673) 

CALEB CARMAN (1644/5 – 1693) 

ROBERT CARR (1614 – 1681)

JOHN CHAMBERLIN (1687-1739) 

RICHARD CLARK (C. 1613 – 1697)

WILLIAM CLAYTON (1632 – 1689)

ROBERT CLEMENTS, JR (C 1634-C 1714)

FRANCIS COLLINS (1635 – 1720)

JOHN CONGER (C 1645-1712)

CORNELIS WILLEMSE COUWENHOVEN.

THOMAS COX (1620 – 1681)

JASPER CRANE (1605 – 1681)

DAVID DEMAREST (1620 – 1693)

ROBERT DENNIS (C. 1619 – 1683+)

DANIEL DOD (C.1649 – 1701+) 

CORNELIS DOREMUS C 1655-1715)

SAMUEL DOTY (1643 – 1715)

GAVINE DRUMMOND (1659 – 1724)

JONATHAN DUNHAM (1639/40 – 1702)

NICHOLAS DUPUI (1634-1691) JOSHUA ELY (16XX– 1702)

DAVID FALCONER (1630-1713)

EDWARD FITZ-RANDOLPH (C.1607 – 1675/6)

THOMAS FRENCH (1639 – 1699) 

HANNAH FULLER (1636 – AFT.1686)

WILLIAM GIFFORD (1615-1687)

THOMAS HAND (C. 1646-1714)

RICHARD HARTSHORNE (1641 – 1722)

MATTHIAS HATFIELD ( 16XX – 1687)

JOHN HAVENS (C. 1635 – C. 1687) 

REV. OBADIAH HOLMES (1606/7 – 1682) 

HENRY JAQUES (C. 1618-1687)

JEFFERY JONES (C.1643 – 1717)

ISAAC KINGSLAND (1648 – 1698)

FRANCIS LINLE (LINDSLEY/LINDLEY) (16XX – 1704) 

HENRY LYON ( 16XX – 1703) 

SAMUEL MARSH (C.1620 – 1683)

WILLIAM MATLACK (1648-1738) 

SAMUEL MOORE (C.1630 – 1688) 

THOMAS MORRIS ( – 1673)

JOHN OGDEN (1609 – 1682) 

GEORGE PACK (C. 1634-1704)

JOHN PANCOAST (PANCKHURST) (C. 1630 – 1694)

REV. ABRAHAM PIERSON (1611-1678)

JOHN PIKE (1613 – 1689/90)

RICHARD PITTENGER (PEWTINGER) (ABT 1645 – 17XX)

ELIZABETH POWELL (1677 – 1714)

BENJAMIN PRICE (1621-1712) 

JOHN PRIDMORE (PREDMORE) (1661-1702) 

JOHN READING (1657-1717)

WALTER REEVE (1650/57 – 1698) 

EDWARD RIGGS (C. 1614 – 1668) 

THOMAS SCATTERGOOD ( 16XX – 1697)

JOHN SCHENCK (1670-1753)

THOMAS SCHOOLEY (1650 – 1724) 

ANDERS SINNICKSON (C. 1651 -1699)

GILES SLOCUM (C. 1623 – 1681) 

JOHN SOMERS (1623/24-1723)

JAMES STEELMAN (JONS MANSSON) (1660/70 – 1734/35)

ROBERT STILES (1655-1728)

RICHARD STOUT (C. 1615 – C. 1705)

CAPTAIN SAMUEL SWAINE (SWAYNE) (C. 1620 – 1685)

JOHN THROCKMORTON (1601 – 1684) 

MARTIN TICHENOR (C.1615 – 1681)

ROBERT TREAT (1622/24 – 1710) 

CORNELIUS (TEUNISSEN) TUNISON (1694 – 1775)

JOHANNES UPDIKE (OPDYKE) (1651 – 1729)

LUBBERT GYSBERTSEN VAN BLARICUM (C.1601 – C.1655)

CORNELIS VAN VOORST (C. 1580 – 1638) 

WALING JACOBSE VAN WINKLE (C.1650 – C.1729) 

HARTUIAN “HARTMAN” (MICKIELSEN) VREELAND (1651-1707)

JOHN WARD ( – 1684)

JOHN WARD (C. 1625 – 1694)

THOMAS WARNE (C. 1652 – 1722)

BARTHOLOMEW WEST ( 16XX – C.1674)

JOHN WINANS (WYNANTS) (1640 – 1694)

BARNABAS WINES (1628 – 1715)

JOSEPH WOODRUFF (1676-1742)

WILLIAM WOOLMAN (C.1625 – 1692)

JOSHUA WRIGHT (BEFORE 1633-1695) 

ROBERT ZANE (1642-1694)

 

For those who like to see the relatioship charts, and I do, this shows my descendancy from Hartman Vreeland:

Hartman Vreeland (1651 – 1707)

is your 7th great grandfather
son of Hartman Vreeland
son of Dirck Vreeland
daughter of Dirck Vreeland
son of Metje Vreeland
son of Jacob Speer
daughter of Edwin Speer
son of Clara B. Spear
son of Edwin Spear Youngblood
You are the daughter of Cecil Hogue Youngblood
I know that several genealogical bloggers I know will find their ancestors here, Clements, Moore, Ackerman, Wright, Price, Clayton, and Fuller just to name a few! I can hardly wait to see if you have recognized your ancestors on this list! Until we meet again, Helen

 

 

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Marie Botto Kerse Maher- the Magnificent Musician–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #39

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Ali and Annie Colage of Marie B. Kerse Maher's studio and Ali and Annie for boog post

First photo is from the Richmond Times Dispatch showing Marie Kerse’s music studio in the year 1909, second shows sisters left to right, Ali Holshouser Orcutt and Annie Holshouser in 2014, talented musicians themselves who might have inherited their talents from their great-great Aunt Marie! Ali and Annie play piano, percussion, violin, saxophone, bells, and they both sing beautifully.

Marie Botto Kerse Maher was a twin and my great-aunt. I wrote about her twin sister Kate who died at age 17 week before last and you can find that story at this link to the post titled Kate Kerse, Twin and Young Artist Dies at 17 –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #37. What a duo they must have been growing up! Think of all the passion and joy such talented artists would bring to the family. They must have been recognized in their church and community as well, as the stained glass window depicting sisters was dedicated at their church when Kate died. Apparently Marie played the organ there at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on a regular basis. Now, a hundred years later, I  am thinking about them and trying to preserve their stories for our family.

Marie, 1878-1961, was the daughter of James Kerse, a Sergeant on the Richmond City Police force and his wife Mary Catherine Botto. I have written of these families before and you can find links to them and others about the family below. This post is about Marie, one of four children, whose baby brother Andrew Leo Kerse died  at age one when she was 9, and whose twin sister died when they were 17. She was no stranger to death when her mother died and Marie was only 28 years old. She married Joseph Franklin Maher in 1913, when she was 35, had one child, Joseph Jr. at 36.  Both of her parents were gone by her age 43. That is a lot of loss in a lifetime. I wonder if her music sustained her, or just kept her so busy, that she didn’t have time to think! 

I know her music kept her busy, because I have found a treasure trove of information about her on genealogybank.com from the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper in Richmond, Virginia. The picture of her studio in 1909 shown above was one of the treasures found there!  I never met this great Aunt of mine and it was so much fun to get a glimpse inside her home and studio! 

Marie Kerse Maher ad for music lessons

I found an interesting pattern when searching for articles about Aunt Marie. From 1903, when she was 25, until her death in 1961, she operated a music studio out of her home!. Granted, she had a nice home in downtown Richmond, but it is reported that she had over 100 students some years! Every Fall you could find an article about her school starting and the need to register. Every June, you can find an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch about her recitals! She awarded medals and recognized her students liberally. Many were recognized for their talents in the newspaper. As I perused the articles, I was interested to see  pupils from some families I recognized. In 1903, she was teaching two of her own Botto nieces, Kate and Marguerite. There is also a Josie Clements in this article. One of my  genealogy researching cousins is Elizabeth Clements Mims, I suspect this student was in her family. Another family connection is the Bickerstaffs, and there in the review for 1912, you find students named James and Anne Bickerstaff! There are Spindle and Hancock students as well, all names I recognize. How much fun is that! There are other names I took note of. One name that was very interesting to see, was in 1905, Joseph Maher was Marie Kerse’s student–ten years later he became her husband! Took him long enough!

The recitals were obviously elaborate.They were held at venues like the Thomas Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond, and other Halls around town.  There were all kinds of performances as you can read in the articles below, it was amazing. My sister Anne remembers attending one of the recitals when she was a young child of six, shortly before I was born. She remembers that it was held at the luxurious Women’s Club in Richmond, and that our Aunt Gwendolyn Youngblood Tucker took her to the recital, my father’s sister! (the other side of the family, seems curious?). She also remembers something I find amazing, that our mother made her a coat and bonnet out of a wine red velvet! Anne still remembers Mother talking about what an important event the concert was. Anne was the first of four children born to our Mom who worked full-time–I don’t remember her ever sewing! Anne remembers Aunt Marie fairly well, and says Marie was always good and kind to her. I found this picture of a coat and hat very similar to that which Mom made for Anne in 1947. 

velvet coat, marron

I never met our Great Aunt Marie, and was surprised when my research showed that I was 12 years old when she died! She was well known in my home town, why had I never met her? In fact, my sister and I both took piano lessons, but not from her. My older brother and sister sang beautifully! Musical talent apparently runs in the family. It didn’t take much asking around until I began to hear that of course, once again there had been a split in the family! I am genuinely surprised, because I had always thought it was only my father’s family that did that, not my Mom’s. It seems they were just quieter about their estrangements! I learned there were several “incidents” that played into the split relations. I found one in the newspaper archives!In 1915, Marie apparently sued her brother Thomas P. Kerse, my grandfather (my mother’s father) and the courts made him sell some land I assume they had inherited from their mother Mary Catherine Botto who died in 1906. She had inherited the property from her mother, Marie and Thomas’ Grandmother, Catherine Botto Raffo who died shortly before her in 1903– she was a business woman who owned several properties around Richmond. Earlier I had learned that Mary Catherine’s brothers, Marie and Thomas’ Uncles, had sued each other over the property they had inherited,  forcing the sale of  five prime properties in Richmond.      

Kerse lawsuit bet. Marie and Thomas

Apparently there was another reason for the falling out, so much so that Thomas forbid his children to have anything to do with their Aunt Marie or their cousin, her son Joe, how very sad! Or maybe Marie is the one who did the forbidding, I really don’t know, all I know is that we didn’t know each other. Anne says she does not remember seeing Aunt Marie after she was about 7 years old. The other story that I have been told by several family members, is that when James H. Kerse, my great-grandfather,  father of Marie and Thomas, died in October, 1921, even though Thomas, his wife Kate and their six  little children  had taken care of him for many years, Marie inherited the house.  James probably thought Thomas and Kate would be fine on their own and thought he should take care of his daughter. According to the story, Marie  demanded that they move out  even though they were living there one year after James’s death when their own 8 year-old son Thomas Jr. drowned in October, 1922.  Kate was pregnant with their seventh  child by January 1923, when Marie made them move. So much stress, it had to have compounded the emotions.

Regardless of the cause of the split in the family, Marie was obviously a very talented musician. Perhaps she was temperamental and high-strung like many artists are. She was also a very busy business woman when few women were professionals! She was an entrepreneur who ran a music studio out of her home, and had over 100 students enrolled year after year! I find it very interesting that we come from a long line of professional women. In this line especially, Catherine Botto Raffo, born 1825 in Italy,was a professional businesswoman, owning property and collecting rents. Her daughter Mary Catherine Botto Kerse, b. 1858, took over for her. Mary Catherine’s daughter Marie,b.1878,  is the talented musician and business owner herself! Kate, b. 1883, Mary Catherine’s daughter-in-law, Thomas’s wife, was a professional nurse, and before 1915 had a business where she and her partner sold jewelry and did watch repairs. All six of her daughters were educated and worked as realtors, teachers, and social workers! Our generation of women has continued this professional  identity as teachers, financial advisors, psychologists, nurses, etc. We have been told women didn’t work until after WWII and the 1950’s. Well, in our family, we come from a long line of women intrinsically motivated towards professions which makes me proud. 

Besides having her elaborate recitals covered in the newspaper,  Marie placed regular  memorials to some of her loved ones in the newspaper on the anniversary of their deaths. She wrote them poems as you can see in my post about her grandmother, Catherine Revaro Botto Raffo. She posted for her mother as well. But one amazing thing I found, was a memorial she published for her twin sister. It was amazing because the name we had from the records at St. Patrick’s Church were different from the name published in the newspaper, given by Maire.  The church said her sister Kate was named Kathleen Kerse. the memorial left by Marie for her sister, named her as Katherine Vernoica Kerse! I wonder if the middle name was a typo on the part of the newspaper. But my sister nor myself ever heard the name Veronica or even Victoria being in our Kerse  family, much less Vernoica!  Katherine however, is a popular name in our family, every generation has one or more, and I’ve never known anything but good things about any and all of our Katherines, Kathryns, Catherines, Kates and Katys! I’m going to have to do some more research for Kate.

Marie Kerse remembers twin sister

 

I am including articles from the Richmond Times Dispatch archives from Genealogybank.com, although I know they are hard to read.  I believe some family and friends will be interested enough to be thrilled to find these clippings here. They are much easier to read on genealogybank by the way, the problem is in my photography of the articles! Thank you for joining me in my family reminiscing, please share yours with me. 

 

 

 

Former blog posts about the Kerse and allied families:

1. Kate Kerse, Twin and Young Artist Dies at 17 –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #37

2. Catharina Revaro Botto Raffo–My Italian 2nd Great-Grandmother–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #36 

 3. Kerse (Kearse, Kierce, Kearsey) James H. — Irish Cop, Yachtsman, Animal Lover– 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

 4. Thomas Philip Kerse– Irish Cop like his Dad–52 ancestors in 52 weeks!

5.    Thomas Philip Kerse Captains the Lady Jane! 52 ancestors in 52 weeks

6.    Five Generations of Women, Daughters, Mothers, and Grandmothers   (About Katherine Steptoe Kerse, Thoma’s wife)

7.   Eight-Year-Old Drowns! 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks #4

8.   Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood, My Mother, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #33

9.    Janey Bell Kerse Sommers, 1923-2002, Brillance and Joyfulness Dimmed by Altzheimers-52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #23

 

 

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Receiving the “One Lovely Blog” Award!

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Blog Award, One Lovely Blog Award

 

I am honored and grateful to receive the “One Lovely Blog Award” from two of my fellow bloggers! To be recognized for your work by your peers is encouraging, even inspirational! Then to get to know other bloggers through their nominees is icing on the cake! Thank you so very much Cathy Meder-Dempsey whose blog I love is: Opening Doors in Brick Walls, and Fran Ellsworth with her great blog: Branching Out Through The Years.

Receiving this award comes with duties as well. There are four rules to follow:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog

2.  Share seven things about yourself.

3.   Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!)

4.   Contact your bloggers to let them know that you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award

I’m wondering if I can think of seven things about myself that most of you don’t already know. But of course, there are some things that define me and I must include, such as :

1.  I have been married 43 years, have two grown daughters and three grandchildren! My sister often edits my blog posts for me, and family means the world to me!  I have several good friends who have been so for over 40 years, they are the treasures in my life, along with newer ones as well! The love and support of family and friends means everything to me! 

2.  I love Elvis! Jailhouse Rock is one of my favorites of his songs! However, when I played guitar I mostly played folk songs by artists like Peter, Paul, and Mary.  Of course, it was the 1960’s! I also loved to play children’s songs like “I’m in Love With a Big Blue Frog” as well! 

3.  I am disabled with heart disease, and had experimental open-heart surgery at Duke University Medical Center many years ago. My disease keeps me close to home and using a wheelchair to go far, due to my body’s inability to get enough oxygen pumped around my body! Nonetheless, I garden by sitting in and crawling around the garden, play with my grandkids, and enjoy the world from facebook! 

4.  I am deeply spiritual. I believe strongly in the power of prayer and have felt that prayer myself. I am a strong believer in angels!

5.  As a young woman I could run like the wind, swim for miles, and loved to dance! Wish I still could! Professionally I taught emotionally disturbed children for seven years before becoming a marriage,  family, and group  therapist for twenty.

6.  Reading and writing are two of my favorite things! I’m a book lover! Downsizing has forced me to let go of some of my books, and that purging was very sad! I’ve loved to write since I was a young child. I had a little desk, that had been my Mom’s and that I still have and care for. The desk was located in my bedroom in one of those little alcoves inside a dormer window. I used to love to sit there, look out at the top of the trees and at the blue sky,  daydream and write! I’m  still a dreamer!

7.  Volunteerism was and is a great part of my life, and I admire it in other people  tremendously! To serve others with a truly altruistic spirit,  is one of the greatest Chruistian values, I believe. Over the years I served in many, many volunteer capacities with my children’s schools, women’s centers, my church and community. I admire others who serve as volunteers in a million different capacities. Today my volunteerism is limited, but I  enjoy helping a friend learn  something, and helping via the computer when I can–like helping build someone’s family tree! I have to say, I am the recipient of a lot of help myself, and I am grateful for it! 

Now to nominate  bloggers I admire, gracious there are so many!  I chose thirteen bloggers to highlight, because 13 has always been a very LUCKY number for me!  Several of these undoubtedly will have received or been nominated for this award before. If I nominate you again, it is because I admire your work greatly, and of course you do not have to do the work again, just enjoy the accolades! Although I admire and enjoy Cathy Meder-Dempsey’s and Fran Ellsworth’s blogs, I will resist the temptation to nominate them again, even though they greatly deserve it! In alphabetical order by the award-winning artist first names: 

1.   Amy Johnson Crow has a wonderful blog called No Story Too Small! Besides sharing interesting family stories with us from her genealogical research, Amy administers the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, now in its 38th week! I stand amazed at all her accomplishments!

2.  Aquila Herus has three blogs and I like them all. Her genealogy  blog, Lineage Hunter is the one I am reading most often at this time. But she writes one called Aquila’s Place, An Eccentric Mix of Literature and Opinions which is very cool also! I love her recent poem on spam! This prolific writer has a third opinion blog called How Dare They.

3.   Carolyn Thomas for her awesome blog, Heart Sisters, all about heart disease and women, hands down best on the web!

 4. C ate Russell-Cole for her blog Empowering, Encouraging and Equipping Writers of all Genres, I love this blog! It gives me inspiration daily! 

5.  Charles Moore for his blog Moore Genealogy, a great combination of teaching and story telling blog! I have enjoyed this blog since my first experience with blogging.

6.  Edyth O’Neill for her blog My Red Cape. I love the crafts and decorating tips she offers. Most of all I love the way she describes things, like this about her blog:  “I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking-glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities.”–Edyth O’Neill Isn’t that wonderful! 

7.  Gail Kae for her blog Chips off the Old Block! I love that creative name, and find her genealogical blog entertaining and thorough! Great accomplishment Gail! 

 8.  Janice A. Brown for her blog Cow Hampshire! That name is so typical of Janice’s flaming sense of humor! It is a wonderful New Hampshire history, genealogy, photography and humor blog! I have gotten to know and admire Janice for her work encouraging other genealogy bloggers on her facebook group by that title! She makes it a joy to interact there. 

9.  Jeanne Bryan Insalaco, for her Blog of 52 Week Ancestor Stories.I love Jeanne’s stories, her genealogical focus, and most of all her enthusiasm and encouragement of other authors! It has been a joy getting to know you Jeanne! 

 10.  Kassie Ritman for her blog Maybe Someone Should Write that Down! That title alone is an award winner! she writes about genealogy and family stories, but more she writes for writers and shares information from the workshops she teaches! Great Blog! 

11.  Nigel Boldero for his blog Old School Garden, a blog of gardening techniques told with great humor! I love it! 

12.  Patricia Ametherea for her inspiring blog Awaken Heal Inspire, using Integrated Energy Therapy. She provides my daily dose of reminders to take care of myself, and to think positively! Thank you Patricia.

 13.  Wendy Thomas, Lisa J. Jackson, Susan Nye and Jamie Wallace and others in Live to Write–Write to Live, Professional Writers Talk About the Craft and Business of Writing. I cannot tell you all that I have learned from this blog! They are great and the group effort means you always get new ideas! 

 What fun this has been, and I have loved contacting my nonminees! Thank you again Cathy Meder-Dempsey and Fran Ellsworth–your thoughtfulness has brought me great joy! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–M

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Pearce, Richard, 1590-1666, Brings Lots of New Cousins into My Life–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #38

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King John,_Magna_Carta, commons.wikimedia.org

King John of England signs the Magna Carta–source– commons.wikimedia.org

 

Genealogical research is always amazing and enlightening to me! I’ve been pursuing it for about four years, and it has been one of the most rewarding, challenging hobbies I have ever had. Adding my dna testing to my research just opened the doors to incredible new discoveries! One thing that has amazed me, is that as I expand my tree and search my dna matches on ancestry.com, I have discovered that I am related to almost everyone I know! LOL  I live on a cul-de-sac, and am related to at least four other families who live on this same street! Some kinships have come through DNA, some just through expanding my family tree. When you come across names of neighbors and friends like Vorhees and Hollingsworth, you know you just have to check it out! Sure enough, I am kin to those neighbors! Not necessarily close kin, LOL We can prove it by dna and written records! Can you believe it! ? It blows me away as well! I recently met a nineteenth cousin! I have gotten so that 5th and 6th cousins seem like close kin!  LOL 

Recently, I’ve been helping a friend Sharon research her family tree. She is a Pierce by birth, and we have enjoyed researching and filling out her tree together! I had no idea where our exercise would lead! In her tree we ran across a Baird, then a couple other names that I thought I recognized, and sure enough, they were in my own tree. We learned we were related, but weren’t sure exactly how.

As I studied her Pierce/Pearce line further, I realized I had seen some of the names before.  I had helped another friend complete some of his family tree, and yes, he had this same line of Pearces in his tree–Thomas Clayton from Greensboro, NC! We had already learned that through his Pearces, he was kin to our mechanic and friend, Jack Strickland! On ancestry.com, I got an email from a man named Donnie Bunn whose Pearce line matched Thomas Clayton’s exactly! Not only did we now have four people knowing each other and kin to each other, but Donnie ‘s family was part of the family who founded a small town near me, the town of Bunn, North Carolina. How very interesting to learn that the Bunns and the Pearces were part of the same family! I soon learned there were many Pearces in the area, and even a Pearce’s Church Road nearby! But wait, through ancestry.com, I met another Pearce researcher, one Tony Pearce, again the same line, and lo and behold, he was a friend of my friend Sharon! What a small world, they had no idea they were related! Sharon is from Pennsylvania by the way, the others are from this area, or at least North Carolina. So, now there were how many? Five I believe who all were cousins with the same Pearce line, although some of the lines didn’t  join each other until 1590! LOL  Richard Pearce, born 1590, came to America from England in 1647 settling in Rhode Island. While Sharon comes down from his son, Capt. Michael Pearce, Thomas comes down from his son Richard, as do Donnie, Tony, and Jack. What a small world! 

But the piece de resistance for me, the ultimate shock and joyful surprise, was when I finally realized I had never checked my dna to see if I was related to the Pearce family–this line of Pearces, and my dna said I was! It took quite a bit of research for me to prove that indeed, this was the very same line of Pearce’s from which Sharon and the others also descended. To be quite honest, it blew me away! So, what–that makes 6 of us who have the same Pearce line that I know, and makes cousins out of us all! Thomas and I have been friends since college–about 47 years!  Now we discover we are cousins! LOL And Sharon–we are neighbors, gardeners, and became friends ten years ago over our mutual love of daylillies! The others are newer friends and acquaintances, now cousins!

 I had approximately 300 dna matches to the spelling Pierce, and  150 to Pearce, many of which were the same match for both spellings. But one match immediately caught my eye, because it was francielou! Francielou is the owner of a tree on ancestry.com–my ONE and ONLY dna match to my Italian Bottos! My Italian Bottos were kin to the Pearces! –along with my Rosas, Devotos, Brignardellos, and more! LOL My friends had some Italian ancestry  also! Not only that, Francielou had taken the Pierce/Pearce line, the exact line as Sharon’s, and extended it all the way back to the 1100’s, including many Royals in the line. Now we were kin to King Henry II and III Plantagenet through the Pearces and through my Italian  family! Awesome!  Her Royal Highness Mary of Lancaster Plantagenet, 1320, was in the line, and King John Lackland Plantagenet, King of England who signed the Magna Carta was now a grandfather of all of us–Sharon’s and my 21st! Now that was a find! All in a day’s work, okay, several days work–but it is so much fun, and so rewarding! 

Here’s wishing you similar adventures in exploring your family tree! Let it open new doors for you and introduce you to many delightful new people! 

consanguinity

source: linealarboretum.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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Kate Kerse, Twin and Young Artist Dies at 17 –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #37

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Stained glass window dedicated to Katie Kerse

 

This beautiful stained glass window was dedicated to Katie Kerse, twin of Marie Kerse, pronounced Kearse, who died at age 17, in 1895. She died of a burst appendix.  Kate  was a very talented artist, and her sister Marie was a talented musician, a pianist.  It is not a coincidence that the stained glass window dedicated to Katie  at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia, depicts sisters Martha and Mary.  This window is not only appropriate because it honors the twin sisters Kate and Marie, but also because  Martha and Mary begged Jesus to raise their brother Lazarus from the dead. Kate and Marie had a little brother, Andrew Leo , who died at 13 months old, in 1887. The twins would have been 9 when that happened, a very impressionable age for young girls to lose their baby brother! As good little Catholic girls, don’t you think they spent time asking Jesus to bring their little brother back to life ? I suspect they did.

Even though Kate was my Great Aunt, because she died so young, the  family living now knows little about her. We know she was an artist, a painter, whose work was admired by family and friends. Unfortunately, no one in the family has a piece of her work today. However, this stained glass window hangs in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, reminding us that a lot of people loved her.  Her sister Marie played piano beautifully, and played the organ for her church for many years, another good reason to know that the window honors both sisters.  I will write more about Marie  in a separate post.

Unfortunately, there is confusion surrounding the correct date of birth for the twins.  The 1880 census found on ancestry.com, shows the twins at one month old, living with their mother and father, Mary Catherine Botto Kerse,and James H. Kerse in the home of their grandparents–James’s parents, Robert E. and Margaret Kerse.

Name: Kate Kerse
Age: 1m
Birth Year: abt 1880
Birthplace: Virginia
Home in 1880: Richmond, Henrico, Virginia
Race: White
[daughter of James Kerse and Mary Botto Kerse, granddaughter of Robert and Margaret Kerse
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Marital Status: Single
Father’s Name: Robert Kerse
Father’s Birthplace: Italy
[Richmond, Virginia, USA
Mother’s name: Margaret Kerse
Mother’s Birthplace: Italy
Neighbors: View others on page
Cannot read/write:Blind:Deaf and Dumb:Otherwise disabled:Idiotic or insane:
Household Members:
Name Age
Robert Kerse 45
Margaret Kerse 40
James Kerse 23
Robert E. Kerse 19
Maggie Kerse 12
Lillie Kerse 10
Leo Kerse 5
Mary Kerse 22
Marie Kerse 1m
Kate Kerse 1m
View
Original
Record

View original image
V

Knowing that the Kerse family had been active in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia, I called the church and discovered that they had records going back this far and further. Making my request in writing,  I soon learned that Kate’s name  was truly Kathleen.  The church records stated:   “Citation Information Transcription of text Detail Listed parents of Kate and Mary, twins, as James H. Kerse and his wife Mary Catherine Botto. Their written records state they were born on 17 May, 1878, baptized on 25 June, 1879, and Kate died at age 17.”  The church records also state that James H. Kerse and Mary Catherine Botto married  on November 27, 1879, over a year after the twins were born! Born in 1878 or 1880, interesting conflict.

There is another part to Kate’s story that is serendipitous perhaps, or perhaps a direct result of Kate’s work from heaven on behalf of her family–what do you think? Kate’s brother, Thomas Philip Kerse was my grandfather. After losing Kate to infection from her burst appendix, the family was terrified when their only living son Tom came down with the same condition! They hired a private duty nurse to care for him around the clock at the doctor’s suggestion. That nurse was a young woman named Katherine Steptoe Houchins, already engaged to marry another man, but fated perhaps to fall in love with Tom! Katherine was also called Kate.  She helped Tom get well then married him , becoming my mother’s mother, my grandmother! Tom and Kate had seven children, one son and six daughters. They have twelve grandchildren, 15 great grands and twelve great-greats still new to the world!

Life stories are so very interesting, as our families are. With all the twists and turns we are reminded that life is an adventure, with different stories for every individual! I wish I had known Kate, I wish she had lived to be a part of our life! I wonder what it might have been like to have an artist in the family, perhaps encouraging other artists! We never know when we have lost a loved one at a young age, just what we’ve missed by not having them in our lives to learn from, to love, and to be loved by them.  Angels surround you Katie Kerse, and keep you always.

 

St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia, --available on facebook

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia, –available on facebook

 

 

 

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