Heart of a Southern Woman

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John Langhorne Arrived in the Royal Colony of Virginia about 1666 and his Descendants Reunion Next Week! –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #29

The Langhorne family reunion is coming up in a week and a half, August 1-3, 2014,  and I am so excited!  As far as I know, this is the first reunion this branch of the family has ever had. Parts of this group reunion regularly, but not as Langhornes! The Spangler branch of this family has a reunion every other year! The descendants of Evelyn Langhorne, my great-grandmother, are relatively small in number, 52, I think I counted recently! We were close as children, but as the older generation died, and as we moved to many different states in the US, we don’t see each other as often as we’d like! Due to my genealogical research, and to the miracles of facebook, I began to renew friendships with my immediate cousins, and  to get to know some of my Spangler cousins, and attended their reunion in 2013!  I fell in love with their wonderful family, my cousins,  and with Patrick County, Virginia’s breathtaking beauty in the mountainous area of southwest Virginia.  This is where our great- great- grandfather, James Steptoe had a 13,000 acre plantation! This is the same family as Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor, and the Gibson Girls, and many other people I have been writing about in my blog. They are a large family whose first immigrant, John Langhorne, came to  Virginia about 1666.  That is a lot of history! 348 years! Many families were huge as was the tradition. When some of us decided to organize a reunion, we quickly realized we did not have time to do the research and organization to find all the Langhornes. So, I got together with the Spanglers, and we decided to try uniting our two branches, the descendants of Fannie Langhorne Spangler  and Evelyn Langhorne Houchins, sisters and daughters of James Steptoe Langhorne and Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro! I volunteered to head up the organizing effort, because I wanted it to happen so strongly!  Even though we emphasized our two branches of the family, we were open to any Langhorne relation joining us! 

As part of this challenge to write about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks, I have chosen to highlight the Langhorne family to encourage people to attend the reunion and drum up interest! But of course, I have ended up learning so much! I even met another cousin , a descendant of a different child of James Steptoe Langhorne, the author of the new book The Virginia Langhornes, by James C. Langhorne. We have actually only met online, and will meet in person at the reunion where he will meet all of us as well as speak to us about his book. How I am looking forward to that! I am already planning to interview some family members while there, (look out!) , so that I can blog about them later! 

John Langhorne, arrived in Virginia by 1670 with his wife Rebecca Carter. Wow, here it is, 344 years later, and the history between us is staggering! John and Rebecca settled on a plantation on the James River and became members of the landed gentry very quickly.  Besides my cousin james C. Langhorne’s book, one of the foremost historians writing about John Langhorne has been Thomas Litten.  He states that John was born in 1640 and came to Warwick County, Va. in 1666. dying in 1687.  Just think, he lived only 47 years.  When I realize what he accomplished in 47 years, it amazes me!  Thomas Litten tells us in “The Langhornes–A First Family of Virginia”         

 

“Due to the destruction of a large number of Warwick County records during the Civil War, all that is known of Captain John Langhorne, is that he was a powerful and influential man. Upon his arrival in Virginia, John Langhorne purchased 1,300 acres from William Whitby, Jr. who was a Burgess for Warwick County. To this he later added 700 acres, which was acquired by a royal grant through the importation of indentured servants. As the most densely populated, and hence the most civilized and desirable county in Virginia, Warwick was an excellent location for John Langhorne to build his fortune. His 2,000-acre plantation was one of the largest in the lower Tidewater region. Among the larger planters of his day, John Langhorne traded his tobacco directly with the mother country for a hefty profit. He also handled shipments for the smaller planters who could not afford direct trade with England.

By the mid 1670′s John Langhorne had been appointed with Col. William Byrd I and Maj. Robert Beverley to fortify the three main rivers of Virginia. The coveted assignment proved to be very lucrative, and over the next several years, the House of Burgesses recorded many payments to John Langhorne, the largest of which amounted to 90,000 pounds of tobacco. At a time when most of the modest Virginia farmers made their living off of little more than 1,000 pounds of tobacco annually, this was an incredible sum. John Langhorne, William Byrd, and Robert Beverley were not soldiers themselves, rather they were assigned to oversee the construction and operation of the essential forts. On the heels of his success with the York River Fort, John Langhorne was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1680, thus establishing a tradition of political service that would characterize his prominent descendents.

Capt. John Langhorne died around 1687, leaving his large estate in the capable care of his wife and his good friend Col. Miles Cary II of neighboring Richneck plantation, until his eldest son John Langhorne, Jr. (1666-1688) came of age. John Jr. along with the youngest son William Langhorne died early, leaving Maurice Langhorne to inherit the entire estate.

As the sole heir of John Langhorne, Maurice Langhorne (1670-1698) inherited a huge estate. Around 1690 he married Anne Cary of “The Forest”. Anne Cary was the daughter of Capt. Henry Cary, a planter who was well-known as the master builder of Williamsburg. The marriage of Maurice Langhorne to Anne Cary was a good one, for the Carys were one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the Virginia Colony. In 1695, Maurice and Anne Langhorne had their only child, whom they named John Langhorne. Within three short years Maurice Langhorne died, and young John was sent to “The Forest” to be raised by his maternal grandparents Henry and Judith Cary. Anne Cary Langhorne soon remarried, a member of another prominent Tidewater family, Benjamin Harrison III of Charles City County. Until John Langhorne III (1695-1767) reached his majority, the Harrison family operated Gambell plantation. For the next twenty years, John Langhorne would spend his days in the polite atmosphere of the Cary plantation.

When in his early twenties however, John Langhorne III had become anxious for his own personal success. Thus in 1719, he took over Gambell and married Mary Beverley of Middlesex County. Mary Beverley was a granddaughter of Capt. John Langhorne’s old friend and contemporary Maj. Robert Beverley. Throughout his long career, Hon. John Langhorne served as a Justice of the Peace, a member of the House of Burgesses, Sheriff of Warwick County, and Presiding Justice of Warwick County from 1749-1762. In addition to his numerous political duties, John Langhorne III continued to expand his land holdings by purchasing new plantations in Chesterfield County, and was also a highly successful merchant, continuing the tradition laid out by his fortune-founding grandfather some fifty years before. John Langhorne and Mary Beverley had three children who left issue. Their only daughter Lockey (named after Judith Lockey, the wife of Capt. Henry Cary and mother of Anne Cary) was successfully courted by Thomas Tabb. Lockey’s considerable dowry helped to establish the Tabb family as members of the Tidewater elite. The elder son, Maj. Maurice Langhorne II (1719-1790) removed to Cumberland County to live near his cousin Col. Archibald Cary of “Ampthill” and his lovely wife, the former Mary Randolph of “Curles”. This Maurice Langhorne bought thousands of acres in Cumberland and established himself as a great success in his own right.

The younger son, Maj. William Langhorne (1721-1797) held possession of the Warwick County estates and became the most prominent of the three. He married Elizabeth Cary Scarsbrook, a cousin of George Washington and Thomas Nelson, and daughter of the wealthy Yorktown merchant Col. Henry Scarsbrook. Henry Scarsbrook was the great-grandson of Capt. Nicholas Martiau, the man whose plantation was later turned into Yorktown. Like his father, William Langhorne served as a Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and as a Burgess. He was also a magistrate for forty years. During the Revolutionary War, William Langhorne served as aide-de-camp to the Marquis de Lafayette, was a member of the Committee of Safety, and was the only representative of Warwick County for the first four out of five Revolutionary Conventions. His service has been commemorated on a memorial in Williamsburg. Of his nine children, two sons were the most prominent. Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne (1760-1797) married the daughter of his Uncle Maj. Maurice Langhorne of Cumberland, thus reuniting two lines of family inheritance. Marrying of cousins, a common practice among the wealthy families of Virginia and other colonies likewise, helped to keep money in the family. John Scarsbrook Langhorne’s younger brother, another Maurice Langhorne (1769-1818) married Martha Holladay of “Indian Fields”, and their grandson Maurice Finney Langhorne married Lillian Isabelle Blair Polk, a close relative of President James K. Polk.

Due to the untimely drowning of their father in the James River in 1797, the three sons of Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne received equal portions of both their father and their grandfather’s estates. An interesting event occurred at this time. Peter Carr, a favorite nephew of Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to George Washington under the name of his kinsman John Langhorne. The letter was intended to “elicit political sentiments useful to the republican cause in Virginia.” However, when it was discovered that John Langhorne had recently died and that the true author of the letter was Peter Carr, George Washington became very suspicious of Thomas Jefferson, as he had assumed that Peter Carr had written the letter under the instructions of Thomas Jefferson. The infamous “Langhorne Letter” was published in 1803.

The eldest of the three brothers and heirs of John Scarsbrook Langhorne’s estate was William Langhorne (1783-1858) who moved to Bedford County, where he wed Catherine Callaway, the daughter of the extremely rich planter and iron manufacturer Col. James Callaway of “Royal Forest”, whose third wife was Mary Langhorne of Cumberland. William Langhorne was, like his father-in-law, a planter and iron manufacturer, who was said to be the most courtly gentleman of his day.

The second brother Maurice Langhorne (1787-1865) moved to Lynchburg, where his inherited wealth was fantastically increased by his successful forays in the Lynchburg tobacco market. Before he died, Maurice Langhorne built for his children the famous “Langhorne’s Row,” a set of four extravagant Greek Revival Lynchburg townhouses, whose architectural sophistication was unmatched anywhere in Virginia with the sole exception of Richmond.

The youngest brother Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne (1790-1854) would surpass them all. Although he was first seated on some of the Cumberland County lands that he had inherited through his mother, he quickly resolved to move to Lynchburg with his brother Maurice. In 1816 Henry S. Langhorne married Frances Callaway Steptoe, the highly sought after daughter of Hon. James Steptoe and Frances Callaway of “Federal Hill”. Here begins a series of interesting family connections that beautifully illustrate the “web of kinship” that existed between Virginia’s ruling families. Frances Callaway was an older sister of Catherine Callaway, wife of Henry Langhorne’s brother William. Hon. James Steptoe was the eldest son of Westmoreland County planter Col. James Steptoe of “Nominy Hall” and his second wife Elizabeth Eskridge of “Sandy Point” (a daughter of Col. George Eskridge, the guardian of Mary Ball Washington). Hon. James Steptoe had two sisters, Elizabeth Steptoe who married Col. Philip Ludwell Lee of “Stratford”, and Anne Steptoe who married Samuel Washington and became the mother of George Steptoe Washington who in turn married Lucy Payne, the sister of First Lady Dolly Payne Madison. Hon. James Steptoe also had two half sisters who were his mother’s daughters by her first husband William Aylett. The first sister, Mary Aylett, married Thomas Ludwell Lee, and the second, Anne Aylett, became the first wife of Richard Henry Lee of “Chantilly”.

The powerful connections of the Steptoe and Callaway families ensured that the Langhornes, although newcomers from the Tidewater, were met with constant success in the Virginia Piedmont. As the planting of tobacco was no longer as profitable as it had once been, Henry S. Langhorne erected in Lynchburg, the second largest milling firm in Virginia. He never abandoned planting though, and continued to buy numerous plantations in Bedford, Campbell and Amherst Counties. In 1845, he retired and relocated to “Cloverdale”, the 3,500-acre Botetourt County plantation he had just purchased from his niece’s husband George Plater Tayloe of “Buena Vista”. His eldest son John Scarsbrook Langhorne (born 1819) married Sarah Elizabeth Dabney of “Edgemont”, a great-granddaughter of William Randolph II of “Chatesworth”. He inherited Langhorne Mills, along with the bulk of his father’s estate. The second son James Steptoe Langhorne (1822-1905) was given an ample number of slaves and the 13,000-acre “Langdale” plantation located near the border of North Carolina.”

This brings us up to the children of James Steptoe Langhorne some of whose descendants will be visiting the remains of his Langdale Plantation in just over a week’s time! Wow! Living history! Our newest author of Langhorne history, James C. Langhorne has done research that found some differing information from Thomas Litten’s work. Progress and change are to be expected as new discoveries are made. As I learn more, you will hear about it! Expect lots of pictures from my own camera! 

Women’s Suffrage Movement in America—Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne—52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #28

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I wonder if the knowledge that women weren’t allowed to vote in the USA until 1920 bothers other women like it does me!? Not that I think about it often to tell you the truth, but every so often the topic comes up, and it just slays me! 1920! That makes me only the second generation of women who have had the right to vote—and vote I do baby! LOL My Mom was born in 1918, and I in 1949 – yet, I already took being allowed to vote for granted, never realizing what a fight it had been to get that right! Isn’t that amazing! Now I understand better why my Mom was such an advocate for voting! She worked the polls, took us, her four children with her at times to teach us how the voting worked, and generally was a strong activist!

Langhorne, Elizabeth Dabney

Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne, The Virginia Langhornes by James C. Langhorne, p. 183.

I learned that one of our cousins, Mom’s 1st cousin, 2x removed, was one of the strongest advocates for women’s rights in the state of Virginia (where my Mom and I were born, and where we both grew up)! I am so proud of this ancestor and cousin– Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne! She was the founder and President of the Equal Suffrage Club in Lynchburg, Virginia, then became the Vice President of the Equal Suffrage League of the State of Virginia! From the 1850’s to 1920 many women activists worked tirelessly to lobby their lawmakers, and convince their sisters and coworkers that women should have a voice in electing those who “ruled” them, those who made their laws, those who affected their families and their very lives.  They had to convince people that they were thinking people with brains like men! This was the 1900’s—almost 300 years after our country was first settled! Good grief, how did we let that happen? Black men were given the right to vote in 1870 by the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, but women were still not allowed! Women all over the country gave speeches, held protests, demanded their rights…and time after time, they were turned down! They held parades, athletic competitions, wrote magazine articles—formed national and state organizations to try to organize their movement and their voice! By 1890, they were more united, lead by famous women like Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone. I thought this description in Wikipedia about suffrage was very interesting:

On January 12, 1915, a suffrage bill was brought before the House of Representatives but was defeated by a vote of 204 to 174, (Democrats 170-85 against, Republicans 81-34 for, Progressives 6-0 for).[76] Another bill was brought before the House on January 10, 1918. On the evening before, President Wilson made a strong and widely published appeal to the House to pass the bill. It was passed by two-thirds of the House, with only one vote to spare. The vote was then carried into the Senate. Again President Wilson made an appeal, but on September 30, 1918, the amendment fell two votes short of the two-thirds necessary for passage, 53-31 (Republicans 27-10 for, Democrats 26-21 for).[77] On February 10, 1919, it was again voted upon, and then it was lost by only one vote, 54-30 (Republicans 30-12 for, Democrats 24-18 for).[78] There was considerable anxiety among politicians of both parties to have the amendment passed and made effective before the general elections of 1920, so the President called a special session of Congress, and a bill, introducing the amendment, was brought before the House again. On May 21, 1919, it was passed, 304 to 89, (Republicans 200-19 for, Democrats 102-69 for, Union Labor 1-0 for, Prohibitionist 1-0 for),[79] 42 votes more than necessary being obtained. On June 4, 1919, it was brought the Senate, and after a long discussion it was passed, with 56 ayes and 25 nays (Republicans 36-8 for, Democrats 20-17 for).[80] Within a few days, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan ratified the amendment, their legislatures being then in session. Other states followed suit at a regular pace, until the amendment had been ratified by 35 of the necessary 36 state legislatures. After Washington on March 22, 1920, ratification languished for months. Finally, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee narrowly ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, making it the law throughout the United States.[81] Thus the 1920 election was the first United States presidential election in which women were permitted to vote in every state. Nearly twenty years later Maryland ratified the amendment in 1941. After another ten years, in 1952, Virginia ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, followed by Alabama in 1953.[82] After another 16 years Florida and South Carolina passed the necessary votes to ratify in 1969, followed two years later by Georgia[83] and Louisiana in 1971.[84] Mississippi did not ratify the Nineteenth Amendment until 1984, sixty-four years after the law was enacted nationally.[85]

 

Finally, in 1920, they convinced enough citizens—men—to ratify the nineteenth amendment to the constitution which simply says, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Thank God for the national laws regarding this particular issue! Otherwise, my Mother would not have been able to vote in her lifetime in Virginia either! Good grief! It is hard for me to believe that I really did not understand what a fight this had been. I, myself, stood up for, lectured for, and protested for women’s rights in the 1970’s—women’s rights to work, to make the same money as men, the right to birth control…and often I think my daughters just take their freedoms for granted. Well, I took the right to vote for granted! With all my Mom’s activism re. voting, I did not understand the history behind it until I started working on my family’s genealogy and discovered Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne, one of those amazing women who helped move our society forward! Thank you and I am proud to be related to you! I want to give James C. Langhorne, author of The Virginia Langhornes, kudos for writing about this dynamic woman in his book which got my attention! After reading about her in his book, I found an interesting little character sketch about her on ancestry.com, author unknown however. It said, Elizabeth Dabney “Lizzie” Langhorne Lewis: “Lizzie” Langhorne was born in Botetourt County. The family moved to Lynchburg, where she was tutored and attended private schools. In 1873 she married John H. Lewis, an attorney. Her great-niece recalled that she had “a well-reasoned mind, curious about all new ideas, accepting nothing until she was convinced.” She was very political for a woman of her era and was a popular speaker on behalf of woman suffrage and improved working conditions for women. Later in life, she championed the League of Nations. For years she played the organ at the tiny…Unitarian Church in Lynchburg. When she was over seventy she went to the Sorbonne in Paris to perfect her French. “She voted Socialist at eighty,” recalled a relative, “because she said she was tired of both Republicans and Democrats and she wanted a change.” I imagine there are many of us today, July 2014, who would agree with her that we are tired of both Republicans and Democrats. Our country seems more polarized than ever and it is easy to see how we fell into Civil War once before. I hope long before that happens, —we “enlightened people”—will work together to find our mutual path, our mutual joys, and move in a new direction to make our country whole again. We have to move away from blaming and on towards solving, so what positive thing might you suggest, positive remember! LOL

Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne (1851 – 1946)
is your 1st cousin 3x removed
father of Elizabeth Dabney Langhorne
father of John Scarsbrook Langhorne
son of Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne
daughter of James Steptoe  Langhorne
daughter of Evelyn  Langhorne
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse

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PTSD? Waiting for Hurricane Arthur to Hit Us, Brings up Memories of Family Tragedy of 1989 and Hurricane Hugo-52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #27

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Tonight, July 3, 2014, while part of my family is on a beach on the North Carolina coast with Hurricane Arthur approaching, I am sitting here praying for their safety as I recall the tragic aftermath  of Hurricane Hugo for our own family.  The Category 5 hurricane Hugo hit Sept 21-22 during the night. The huge storm surge lifted 3 to 4 blocks of houses right off their foundations, squashed them together like a stack of pancakes, and shoved them all back from the ocean about a quarter to a half mile! I had never seen anything like it, until I went down three  months after the storm and saw the destruction with my own eyes! You see, my husband’s family lived there, just  a few blocks off the beach in Garden City, SC., just south of Myrtle Beach, and just north of Charleston.

Interview with Charleston Mayor Joe Riley

Joe Riley, the Mayor of Charleston, shared his memories of Hugo along with some lessons that were learned from the storm. He also has some good reminders about being prepared for the next storm! Check out the full interview here.

Summary

Hurricane Hugo was a Cape Verde hurricane that became a Category 5 (on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) storm in the Atlantic, then raked the northeast Caribbean as a Category 4 storm before turning northwest between an upper-level high pressure system to the north and upper-level low pressure system to the south. Hugo made landfall just north of Charleston, South Carolina at Sullivan’s Island around midnight September 22, 1989 as a Category 4 storm with estimated maximum sustained winds of 135-140 mph and a minimum central pressure of 934 mb (27.58 inches of Hg). Hugo produced tremendous wind and storm surge damage along the coast and even produced hurricane force wind gusts all the way into western North Carolina. In fact, Hugo produced the highest storm tide heights ever recorded along the U.S. East Coast.

Hurricane Hugo track - credit: NOAA's National Hurricane Center Upper-level weather pattern during Hugo - image courtesy of Dr. Jon Nese at Penn State University
Hurricane Hugo’s Track Upper-level Air Patterns
(credit: NOAA’s National Hurricane Center) (credit: Jon Nese at Penn State University)

At the time, Hurricane Hugo was the strongest storm to strike the United States in the previous 20-year period. The hurricane was also the nation’s costliest in terms of monetary losses with damage estimates standing at $7 billion. It is estimated that there were 49 deaths directly related to the storm, 26 of which occurred in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

http://www.erh.noaa.gov/chs/events/hugo.shtml

 

 

My husband Max’s  sister Brenda, her husband Curt, and their three daughters had moved to the beach from western NC sometime in the seventies. Max and I married in 1971, and his Dad, Henry, who  had recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, quickly became wheelchair bound. Within three years, his Mom, Helen, had a brain aneurysm to leak,which brain surgery was able to repair, rare in the 1970′s.  Brenda had a lovely two-story home about four blocks off the beach, and very close by was a mobile home retirement park, very popular in South Carolina. It provided an apartment-like living facility , very convenient to stores and their family. At first it seemed stress free and ideal. Fast forward 10 to 14 years, and they had grown older and less healthy. then Hugo threatened. They were forced to evacuate, and while Brenda and her family stayed not far inland with friends, Henry and Helen at first headed to refuge with Henry’s sister and her husband near Charlotte, NC. We soon learned that the storm was headed that way, and begged them to come instead to our house in Raleigh, NC. At that time we were a family of four, with daughters ages 7 and 15, living in a cozy 1250 sq. ft house! We gave Max’s parents,  our bedroom and bath, and we took the pull out sofa in the study. It was obvious that the stress had taken a toll on both of Max’s parent’s health. His Dad seemed the worst, and indeed, he ended up in the hospital  having bypass surgery within three weeks!  His Mom was so busy taking care of her husband  and worrying about  things back home and all her family, that her diabetes got out of control as well as her problematic blood pressure. She steadfastly refused to see a doctor however, preferring to wait until she went “home”  to SC to see her own. We tried to prepare her for what she might see when she returned. Brenda’s home was still standing, but it had flooded severely. You could see the high water marks just below the ceiling on their first floor! While they had moved some antiques and family heirlooms upstairs, they lost most of what was downstairs and in their shop out back, including a mahogany executive desk handmade by my husband Max while at NC State! It had been ruined in the storm. Amazingly, Max’s parents mobile home was intact, but other homes had been swept into it, and refrigerators, cars, and boats were scattered everywhere! They never found some of their possessions, whether swept away in the storm or looted, we will never know. This was the scene we witnessed when at last we had the chance to take Max’s parents home, in early December, 1989, just before Max’s Mothers’s 70th birthday! After our brief visit, Henry and Helen  stayed with Brenda and Curt while we returned home . Within a week,  Max’s mother had a stroke and died! What a tragedy! There is no doubt in my mind that her death is one not counted as a death from Hurricane Hugo, but it was, nonetheless. The domino effect of the storm, evacuation, her husband’s surgery, and the devastation she witnessed upon returning aligned with her own poor health and just took her away. All of us were left with guilty feelings of course–if only we had kept her in Raleigh, if only we had insisted she see a doctor, if only we hadn’t taken her back to SC until Spring when things would have been cleaned up a bit more, if only, if only ,if only! So tonight, I sit and wait, wait until morning when I will have news that my family on the beach is all just fine.    

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Peyton Randolph, — Marked for Death by the British for His Role in the Continental Congress–52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, #26

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Peyton Randolph held so many leadership roles in Colonial America that his name appeared on a list obtained from the British of people to be captured and hung until dead! This was war after all, and Peyton Randolph was an outspoken leader! It has been said he was the real “Father of our country” and /or “the Father of the Revolution.”  When you study his life and accomplishments, you can’t help but be impressed and realize how blessed we were to have such  intelligent, proactive men in the colonies. 

Peyton Randolph was born about 1721 in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was the second son of John and Susannah Beverly Randolph. This placed him in one of the wealthiest, most powerful planter families in Virginia! His father died when he was only 16, but he was already focused on attending William and Mary College and becoming a lawyer. He went back to England for law school, and upon returning to Virginia in 1744, was asked by Governor William Gooch to be the attorney general for the colony. By 1746 he had married Elizabeth Harrison and by 1749, Peyton had served as a vestryman for Bruton Parish Church, a representative in the House of Burgesses, and a Justice of the Peace–I wonder if he realized he was just beginning his life’s work! 

In 1753, when Peyton was only 32 years old, he was hired as an attorney to represent the House of Burgesses! He was sent to England to basically ask the King to veto the Governor of Virginia–Gov. Robert Dinwiddie ‘s new practice of charging a “tax”- a fee  for certifying land patents.  Going over the governor’s head was unheard of! However, London officials supported Peyton and the Gov. rescinded his tax and reinstated Peyton to his office from which he’d been fired! Talk about fireworks! Do you think those English officials were really mad they had supported Peyton Randolph as he moved on to support the revolutionary movement?!

Always active in colony leadership, things really heated up in 1764. As colonists learned more,  they became infuriated by The Stamp Act and conflict with England and the crown itself became more overt. Peyton was directed by the Virginia House of Burgesses to draft a set of protests to the King and Parliament! In 1766, Peyton was elected Speaker of the House of Burgesses. In 1769, Peyton and Patrick Henry, who had disagreed before, came together to work on passing resolves against the Towshend Duties. The Governor –Gov. Botetourt, however, disagreed with them, and dissolved the House of Burgesses! According to an article written in the online resources of Colonial Williamsburg  re. Peyton Randolph,  “The “former representatives of the people,” as they called themselves, met the next day at the Raleigh Tavern with Speaker Peyton Randolph in the chair. They adopted a compact drafted by George Mason and introduced by George Washington against the importation of British goods. Speaker Randolph was the first to sign.”  Obviously the House of Burgesses was reconvened in the next few months, and the Townshend Duties were repealed  except for that on tea! By 1773, the colonists were all upset with England again over the Boston Tea Party and its continuing conflicts. In 1774 the House of Burgesses passed a resolution written by Thomas Jefferson that said, 

“This House, being deeply impressed with apprehension of the great dangers, to be derived to British America, from the hostile Invasion of the City of Boston, in our Sister Colony of Massachusetts bay, whose commerce and harbour are, on the first Day of June next, to be stopped by an Armed force, deem it highly necessary that the said first day of June be set apart, by the Members of this House, as a day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, devoutly to implore the divine interposition for averting the heavy Calamity which threatens destruction to our Civil Rights, and the Evils of civil War; to give us one heart and one Mind to firmly oppose, by all just and proper means, every injury to American Rights; and that the Minds of his Majesty and his parliament, may be inspired from above with Wisdom, Moderation, and Justice, to remove from the loyal People of America, all cause of danger, from a continued pursuit of Measure, pregnant with their ruin.” (Colonial Williamsburg ref. cited previously)

In response,  “Governor Dunmore summoned the House on May 26, 1774 and told them: “Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses, I have in my hand a paper published by order of your House, conceived in such terms as reflect highly upon His Majesty and the Parliament of Great Britain, which makes it necessary for me to dissolve you; and you are accordingly dissolved.”  

Again, the burgesses gathered at Raleigh Tavern and the very next day at Peyton Randolph’s house.  They planned a Virginia Convention that would take place prior to the Continental Congress which their group had proposed just the day before! (If you’d like, you can see a newspaper article written about one of the meetings of the Virginia Conventions in my blog post on William Langhorne, my 5th great-grandfather who took part.) On September 5, 1774, Peyton Randolph was unanimously elected Chairman of the First Continental Congress in the colonies! From then on he was accompanied everywhere he went by voluntary armed militia! They had learned that there was a list  for the execution of “rebel leaders” which included Peyton Randolph. In the Continental Congress meetings, the leaders of the thirteen colonies, with Georgia not participating until late in the second congress, It became increasingly clear that the colonies needed to make a “Declaration of Independence” and form their own government! The United States Declaration of Independence was formally approved on July 4, 1776, a date we continue to  celebrate today! The Articles of Confederation weren’t passed until November 1777. The Revolutionary War is generally considered lasting from 1775-1783. The defeat of the British at Yorktown, Virginia, with the French helping the Americans capture over 7000 British soldiers, effectively ended the war. The Treaty of Paris officially ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States of America in 1783! (Another blog post re. Yorktown is: Nicholas Martiau, Ancestor of George Washington and My 9th Great Grandfather — 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

Peyton Randolph continued to lead and inspire in the third Virginia convention! Unfortunately, on October 23, 1775  on a Sunday evening, Peyton had a stroke and died immediately. While he was first buried at Christ’s Church in Philadelphia, in 1776 he was brought home to Williamsburg and his “remains interred in the family crypt in the Chapel at the College of William and Mary.” ibid. How sad that he died before Independence was gained after working so hard for it. However, he has truly gone down in history for his leadership and contributions. 

Peyton Randolph was my second cousin! Since learning about him , and researching so man y illustrious ancestors in our family’s past, I have looked at current  family members with different interest, analysis, and respect perhaps. The characteristics of strong opinions, leadership, activism, and outspokenness can be interpreted many ways. Historically, we look back and usually admire the men and women who were our leaders, especially the ones who took us in brave new directions. But in the midst of making history, many hard feelings are often created. Peyton’s brother John was a loyalist to the crown, so he ended up leaving his brother and moving back to England, disgusted with what he saw as his brother’s treasonous behavior–the results of which we are celebrating today! Currently in our country,  we have a huge split between conservatives and liberals about how to run our country. The anger and rhetoric are not unlike that expressed by the citizens of our country at the time of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the time of Civil Rights–especially the 1960′s.  Maybe there comes a point where people must take a stand, where there is no room to compromise. I don’t like to think that, but we all have different ideas about what is “right”. Peyton Randolph had his ideas, and he was willing to put his life on the line, and he did, to support his beliefs. What a wonderful week to remember this ancestor–the week of July 4th, 2014! 

 

Peyton Randolph (1721 – 1775)
is your 2nd cousin 6x removed
mother of Peyton Randolph
father of Susannah Beverley
father of Col Peter Beverley
daughter of Maj. Robert Beverley Sr.
son of Mary Beverley
daughter of Maurice Langhorne
son of Elizabeth Langhorne
son of Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne
daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne
daughter of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse

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Present at the Birth of the Our Country, William Langhorne, 1721-1797, –52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, #25

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St. Johns Church, Richmond, Virginia

St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia

Newspaper archives make genealogy come alive! They make history come alive! That’s one reason I love my subscription to genealogybank.com. The articles I have found there have made my ancestors real for me! Normally searching the archives for specific relatives, the other day, on a whim, I opened genealogybank .com and entered the family name I was currently researching, Langhorne, then entered “oldest” to search for the oldest articles they had on the family. Bingo! Several small things from 1771–came up, but then I found this– the first real newspaper article. It came from the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg Virginia, Issue 1234, pages 2 and 3, Saturday, April 1, 1775.  It is an article about the gathering  of the Delegates of the counties in the Colony of Virginia at a Convention held at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia,from March 20, 1775-March 27, 1775. During this meeting the Delegates chose their representatives to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. More about the Second Continental Congress itself in a minute, but let’s look at this local, Virginia meeting first.

Second Continental Congress

A depiction of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775 from Wikimedia commons.

Look who was present just among the  Virginians — George Washington (my fourth cousin), Thomas Jefferson, Peyton Randolph, John Tabb, Robert Lawson, John Nicholas, Bartholomew Dandridge, Thomas Walker, Richard Bland, James Mercer, Carters, John Harvie, Thomas Mann Randolph, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Henry Taylor, Archibald Cary (my first cousin), James Scott, Henry Lee, Richard Lee, Thomas Nelson, Patrick Henry, and many more.  Most important to me in this moment, is that my  fifth  great-grandfather, William Langhorne was present at this immensely important meeting with all these august leaders of our colony of Virginia, where they charted a course for our future! He had actually been present at all of the Conventions in Virginia so far.  This one however, is when Patrick Henry gave his famous speech saying, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” The delegates  not only elected Virginia’s representatives to the Second Continental Congress at this meeting, but they laid out a plan for Virginia to fight the Revolutionary War, how it would raise the armies, organize them, arm them, and how the citizens would help with everything from ammunition, to conserving wool to make clothes for the soldiers! The detailed plans they made are clearly laid out in the newspaper article below. Chosen to represent the Colony of Virginia at the Second Continental Congress were the Hon. Peyton Randolph, Esq. George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Edmund Pendleton, Benjamin Harrison, and Richard Bland, Esquires. (this can be seen in the write-up from Saturday, March 25, 1775)

 

Screenshot 2014-06-23 13.23.32 Screenshot 2014-06-23 13.24.18  Screenshot 2014-06-23 13.25.00

 

This explanation from Wikipedia about the Second continental congress explains it much better than my paraphrasing could do:  The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting in the summer of 1775, in PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met between September 5, 1774 and October 25, 1774, also in Philadelphia. The second Congress managed the colonial war effort, and moved incrementally towards independence, adopting the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. By raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and making formal treaties, the Congress acted as the de facto national government of what became the United States.

When the Second Continental Congress came together on May 10, 1775 it was, in effect, a reconvening of the First Continental Congress. Many of the same 56 delegates who attended the first meeting were in attendance at the second, and the delegates appointed the same president (Peyton Randolph) and secretary (Charles Thomson).[2]Notable new arrivals included Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and John Hancock of Massachusetts. Within two weeks, Randolph was summoned back to Virginia to preside over the House of Burgesses; he was replaced in the Virginia delegation by Thomas Jefferson, who arrived several weeks later. Henry Middleton was elected as president to replace Randolph, but he declined. Hancock was elected president on May 24″

 This is not a story about the Revolutionary War, but about getting ready for war, getting ready for independence and the amazing feeling we can get when we realize this was not just statesmen and their rhetoric, but our grandfathers, our cousins. You might want to read a former post Genealogical Find of the Day where I wrote about this same William Langhorne and his service as the Aide-De- Camp to Marquis De Lafayette. He was a busy man in those years, yet he married Elizabeth Cary Scarsbrook and had  nine children to carry on his legacy, a legacy of service and leadership. I may never experience a July 4th celebration again without thinking of our grandfather William Langhorne, and all the men who were brave enough to declare our independence, craft our Constitution, and fight for our independence! Thanks to all of them! 

 

Maj. William Langhorne

Birth 1721 in Gambell, Warwick, Virginia, United States
Death Sep 1797 in Gambell, Warwick, Virginia, United States

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Gardener Extraordinaire–Helen Blanche Hogue Youngblood, 1881-1964-52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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Could I have inherited my love of gardening from my paternal grandmother? Helen Blanche Hogue Youngblood, 1881 – 1964, was my father’s mother and lived with us until she died when I was 15 years old. She loved to garden so we always had beautiful flowers in our yard.

 

 

Grandma, as we called her, was always a bit distant but kind to me as a child. However, she had a reputation of being a no-nonsense woman. She ruled the roost, and always had for her own four children and her husband, Edwin Spear Youngblood. She was German and Scottish in ancestry, the daughter of Robert Fulton Youngblood, 1850, who fought in the Civil War. After the war her family moved to the South from Pennsylvania.  Settling in Petersburg, Virginia, they were known as carpetbaggers, and her family of six children was generally rejected by the community. There is a story passed down in the family that says when they would attend church at the Methodist church in Petersburg, people near them would rise and move to the other side of the church! Emotions ran high towards “yankees” in the South after the Civil War. Helen’s father and husband were farmers, but she and her husband lost their farm when the Great Depression hit the United States. By that time, Grandma  had four grown children, and her two sons built a house for them in Richmond Virginia. My father Cecil, bought out his brother Fulton’s half of the house after he was married, Dad’s father had died, and he decided to raise his own family of four children in the house he had helped buy for his mother and father. I spent the first 22 years of my life living in that lovely stone house.

 

Every spring and every fall,Grandma had a ritual. She had about 50 plants in pots that she kept in her large bedroom and walk-in closet upstairs in the stone house. Every spring we would form a line and carry every pot outside! The pots had to be lined up exactly right along the edge of the stone front porch. Every fall it was back again—up the stairs onto the tables and garden display racks. This ritual marked the beginning and end of our summers as clearly as Memorial Day and Labor Day.

  I remember the joy also, the joy of having a huge garden full of daffodils in the spring that we were free to pick and carry to our teachers, neighbors, and whoever we chose. I loved doing that. We always had snowball bushes, and grandma told us that when the snowballs fell off the bushes in May, we could begin to go barefooted outside. I can remember clearly shaking those bushes vigorously along with my brother in hopes that the snowballs would fall to the ground and we could run around outside without our shoes.

 Along our back walkway grew Lily of the Valley. They smelled so sweet as you walked from the driveway to the entrance. When I was  about 10 years old, my grandmother was President of the local garden club and they held a contest for children to create and enter a dish garden. I remember Grandma and myself  working together to design a dish garden that illustrated the song, “White Coral Bells”. I remember planting the Lily of the Valley in my dish garden along with little pebbles for the walkway which illustrated the song perfectly. Amazingly, in researching newspaper archives for my genealogical research, I came across a newspaper article about my winning a blue ribbon for that entry. What a surprise!

lily of the valley “White choral bells, upon  a slender stalk. Lily of the Valley grace my garden walk. Oh how I wish, that I could hear them ring. That will happen only when the faires sing.”

 There is so much more I’d like to tell you about this complex woman. Her mother Helen Voelkler was the daughter of German immigrants. They were a musically talented family, with my second great-grandfather Gustavus Voelkler born 1834 in Altenburg, Saxony. Gustavus owned his own music school and was principal of the music department at Dickenson Seminary in Williamsport, Pennsylvania

 Her father Robert Fulton Hogue, however, was Scottish. If he was anything like his son, my great-uncle Robert Clay Hogue, he was quiet, contemplative, and intense. There was abuse in the family and my own grandmother Helen had a history of being abusive to some people. Where did that come from? Who had the uncontrolled  temper? The German Voelklers, Youngbloods, or the Scottish Hogue’s? 

My mother always worked outside of the home as did my dad. Therefore Grandma was in charge of our family life when I was a child. I remember that we went outdoors to play in the morning and were required to be home in time for dinner at 6:00 pm. We always had dinner around the dining room table at 6 pm, you were not allowed to be tardy for fear of corporal punishment. My job was to set the table for the seven of us-Mom, Dad, four children and grandmother. After dinner, my sister and I washed and put away the dishes.  We did this everyday, day in and day out for many years. My sister had a repetitive dream that she was 113 years old, I was 107, and we lived together, and were doing dishes together still! (It makes me laugh.) She always washed and I always dried and put things away. The boys of course were required to do “boy’s work” like mow the grass, empty the trash, and work on the car if need be. With four children in the house, however, there was always fun to be had no matter what else was going on.

 Grandmother had a keen sense of smell. She was almost deaf, and nearsighted. But we all knew she could smell trouble. Since our parents left early for work, we  children would catch the school bus and go to school on our own. I remember one day, when my little brother was in nursery school still, and my older sister was off in high school, but Cecil and I went to the same elementary school. That morning we missed the school bus because we were late getting out to the stop. Instead of walking to school as we could have and should have, we decided to play hooky. Instead of staying outside and playing all day somewhere away from the house, for some reason we sneaked back into the house and hid in our parents’ closet. At lunchtime, after Grandma went upstairs for a nap, we sneaked out to get something to eat. Not thinking about grandma’s keen sense of smell, we cooked some Campbell’s soup! Not only that but we carried our bowls of soup into the closet along with our crackers and drinks. Our parents would have killed us if they had known!. We cleaned up the kitchen but just as we were slipping back into the closet with our soup, down the stairs came grandma! We could hear her searching from room to room as she muttered under her breath, “ I know I smelled something, there was something cooking, what could it possibly have been? It smells like something’s burning.” She was looking behind every chair and curtain . We froze in the closet –sure of imminent discovery. Amazingly grandma did not find us that day. We were very lucky and we knew it. My brother and I agreed that our skipping school days were over, and that it was easier just to go to school! I can only laugh when I remember the trauma/drama of that day.

 Today I love my flowers. In the spring and summer I rush outside every morning anticipating what new bloom I might see! I usually have my camera with me. But it’s also interesting, that while I am quite nearsighted, and slightly hard of hearing, I also have a keen sense of smell. Could I truly have inherited a love of flowers and a strong sense of smell from my grandmother? Better to enjoy the magnolias, the gardenia, and the Lily of the Valley, say I! Thank heavens I do not have an anger issue and have never been abusive. I do believe we have broken that cycle. The  issues of dna, and nature versus nurture are interesting ones, but I already  know, as I explore my own gardens, that I inherited this interest from my paternal grandmother. It is a gift I appreciate greatly. 

 

This gallery contains 36 photos

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

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Janey Bell Kerse Sommers

Janey Bell Kerse Sommers

Did you ever have a favorite aunt? You knew you couldn’t say that out loud because you might hurt someone else’s feelings, but yes, Janey Bell was my favorite aunt, one I idolized from a young age.

Kerse Sisters, improved picture

l to r, The Kerse sisters, abt. 1942, Katherine, Julia, Evelyn, Janey Bell in black, Nancy, Margaret

 Janey Bell was the youngest of seven children, six girls and one boy. Her brother died when he was  young, and as my mother’s sister, we grew up under the influence of these incredible women. I’m sure being the baby of seven is one reason she had a very playful, joyful spirit, as the youngest child in any family often does. It turned out that she never had children of her own, but had 12 nieces and nephews all of whom she adored. We adored her right back. Janey Bell had a gift for making you feel special. First of all, she would listen to us even when we were tiny children.  She always made you think that you were important when most adults didn’t seem to care.

 Janey Bell was also quite brilliant. Born in 1923 in Richmond Virginia, she graduated from Radford University in the mountains of Virginia. While at Radford, she received the John B. Spiers award for the highest grade average. She went on to earn her Master of Arts in Education from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Just think, when World War II was going on, this young woman was already married, her husband was off at war, and she was breaking records at the University. Like her mother Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kerse, and her Aunt Julia Elizabeth  Nichols, who were professional women in the early 1900s, Janey Bell became a teacher in 1952, when most women were encouraged to be housewives. Janey Bell was not just any teacher either. She taught children with learning disabilities and with emotional handicaps. She did this for 37 years. Towards the end of her career, Janey Bell served as the supervisor for Special Education in the Forsyth County Schools of North Carolina. She had been recognized as the Teacher of the Year in 1980-81 for Forsyth County, and was one of the top three finalists for the State of North Carolina. She was dedicated, creative, and committed  to her students and her profession. As a child growing up, I was inspired by this incredible woman. I remember clearly visiting her one particular summer of many, when she was teaching summer school. She was teaching in the building of the Bowman Gray Medical School, an old castle like mansion. One day she took me with her to her school to observe. As I watched Janey Bell interact with her students,  my own future career was born. I was only about 12 years old, but indeed I went to college, got a degree in psychology and special education, and taught emotionally disturbed children and teenagers myself. Later I earned a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and became a family therapist. Much of that career was modeled after my stellar aunt.

 Janey Bell was married to her husband Roy Sommers for 60 years, she was 78 years old when she died. She was active in her church, Highland Presbyterian, where she served as an elder for many years. Amazingly, I also served as an elder in my own Presbyterian Church later in life. Obviously Janey Bell was a huge influence for me.

 When Janey Bell was about 59 years old, she was diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s. She had begun to forget things in the year or so prior to this. She began to miss meetings that she had scheduled. She would get lost driving home from work, a route she had taken for almost 40 years. I remember one Thanksgiving as the family gathered together for dinner, about 30 of us were together, including five of our six aunts. We said the blessing as was our family tradition. However about five minutes later as we began to go through the buffet line, Aunt Janie Bell said, “Stop! We can’t eat! We haven’t said the blessing yet!”  Murmuring our apologies and our wonderment at her memory loss all 30 of us bowed our heads and said another blessing. The move through the buffet line commenced again but within minutes our precious Aunt Janey Bell stopped us again, very upset that we had neglected to say the blessing. For the third time our whole group let the blessing be repeated. Our Mother’s was a very loving, supportive family. However when the fifth outcry came from Aunt Janey Bell to stop what we were doing and say another blessing, the oldest sister confronted her! She said. “Now Janey Bell, we already said the blessing. You need to let everyone enjoy their dinner. Come and sit with me.”  Janey Bell had us all repeating our names, the schools we went to, and our stories over and over again that day. We were all devastated.

 It wasn’t long before Janey Bell lost the ability to speak except in garbled, unintelligible language. She went to live in a nursing home and used a wheelchair to wander the halls. One day when I went to visit, my husband and Uncle Roy her husband, were with me. At first I didn’t think she knew who I was, but as we began to talk together, it seemed like she knew me after all. She looked  right at me and gave a long  spiel of words, none of which I could understand. When she finished her obvious dissertation, instead of admitting that I could not understand her, I placated her by saying, “Yes, I understand.” She looked right at me, and with an expression of pure joy on her face, said as clear as day, “Good, then tell Roy!”  I was floored when she gestured that I should talk to my Uncle Roy right then. I panicked and made a sign of surrender with my hands in the air. Seeing this, my precious Aunt Janey Bell, turned her wheelchair away from us and paddled away with her feet. It broke my heart. We decided to leave, and when I approached her to say goodbye, there was no sign on her face that she had any idea who I was. She had already retreated into another world it seemed.

 Aunt Janey Bell’s decline and death was painful to watch. However, when you look back at her lifetime, you see a huge trail of children including her students, her nieces and nephews, and me–who bloomed because of her loving, dedicated guidance. Here’s to you-Janey Bell Kerse Sommers, thank you for all the lives you touched, and I love you to infinity and beyond! Helen

 

Relationship chart:

Jane Bell “Janey Bell” Kerse (1923 – 2002)

is your aunt

Thomas Philip Kerse (1884 – 1939)

father of Jane Bell “Janey Bell” Kerse

Margaret Steptoe Kerse (1918 – 1980)

daughter of Thomas Philip Kerse

Helen Spear Youngblood

You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse 

 

From the Langhorne family:

–James Steptoe Langhorne,1822, great-great-grandfather

-Evalina Langhorne Houchins, great-grandmother

-Katherine (Kate) Steptoe Houchins Sommers, mother

-Janey Bell Kerse Sommers

This gallery contains 2 photos

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