Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

“C” is for Cake–Created by Father and Daughter



Red Velvet cheesecake

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, smell the aroma of hot baking chocolate, as the red velvet pound cake is brought out of the oven….mmmmmm. Now, in your mind’s eye, see and smell the moist, warm, delicious, velvety pound cake  as you cut into it and the steam rises! The white chocolate icing poured over it a minute ago just adds to the anticipation as it slowly slides down the sides. Now open your eyes, and take a bite of that heavenly tasting cake served to you by ….oh my gracious…it’s my daughter Annie! She has become a Pastry Chef!

My husband Max is also quite a good baker, and enjoys it. He learned from his mother, and Max has made decorated cakes for our children and grandchildren for the last 43 years. It should not have surprised me that one of our daughters would take after the two of them. Our daughter Annie  went to Appalachian State University here in North Carolina where she earned a degree in business management and hospitality.  Last year she went back to school, surprising us by deciding she wanted a certificate as a pastry chef! I guess we were so used to Max being the baker in our family, we hadn’t yet realized the student might surpass the teacher, or at least team-up with him! Along the way, she learned a lot of other skills, like working with knives (yikes), sanitation and safety, artisan bread making (yum), and cake baking and decorating!  I remember when she began to make fondant flowers–oh my gracious, I had no idea she had such artistic, sculpting ability inside! (parents are always the last to know, the last to believe the talents of their own children–because they are CHILDREN–even at 30!) LOL  Today I want to show you some of her and some of Max’s incredible baking creations–from wedding cakes to gingerbread houses, they are both  gold medal winners!

Here’s wishing that you always get to eat incredible, mouth-watering, moist and delicious cake!

Annie’s cakes and creations:


Max’s cakes, a few:


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A is for Ali and Annie, My Daughters


A to Z Blog Challenge

-from 10 Minute Novelists, Katherine Grubb

Last year I joined the 52 Ancestor Blog Posts in 52 Weeks genealogical blogging challenge and enjoyed it tremendously. Today I received a challenge to join a month-long blogging challenge to write and publish everyday! Besides that, we have to follow the alphabet! I have hemmed and hawed all day, so why at 11:15pm my time, have I decided to join the challenge and therefore am sprinting to write my first post for this group!  Oh my gracious, we shall see what we shall see! 

Ali and Annie at Josh Grobin concert, August, 204

A is for Ali and Annie, my two adult daughters whom I love with all my heart and soul.  Ali is married with three young children, my adorable grandchildren, and Annie is single and a talented retail manager, who is looking to change paths. Both of my daughters were gifted students, are gifted adults, which brings its own challenges. They both are especially talented musicians as well, both play instruments (saxophone, violin, piano, drums, belles, xylophone, marimba)  and sing beautifully, if I do say so myself. Most importantly perhaps, they are both good people, kind and caring–they make my heart sing.
I did not set out to name both daughters an “A” name, like so many parents choose to do. My husband’s name is Max Alexander Holshouser, and when I was pregnant, way before parents discovered the sex of their child before birth, we decided to name our first child Alexandra if a girl, or Alexander if a boy, and so we did.  Alexandra Kathryn, Ali became her nickname.  She was named for her Dad, a grandmother, and cousin!
Annie on the other hand, is named, Margaret Anne–Margaret for my  mother, and Anne for my sister. For two years we called her Margaret Anne. Then we realized she’d never be able to learn to write it by age 5!  So we called her Maggie. Maggie she stayed until age 14. At her age 14 we moved to a different town for my job. She was entering high school, and decided she wanted to be called Annie! I was very surprised, but she was serious! She was insistent that we remember!  I remember introducing her to our new minister, saying  Rev. __, this is my daughter Annie (very carefully), then turning to her and saying, “Maggie, this is Rev. ___.”  He looked at me like….what…is she Maggie or Annie, what’s going on here? LOL It took me about 2 years to learn to call her Annie, to think of her as Annie. Now we have moved back to our original town where she was born. We can tell our old friends from our new, by the way they address her. Our friends from long ago call her Maggie, and our friends from her high school years on, call her Annie–its kind of fun!
I feel so very blessed by these daughters in my life, so loving, so thoughtful. There is so much more I could tell, but this day will be over in 10 minutes, and I must post this. Feel free to fill me in on important “A” facts in your life! I’d love to hear, Helen

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Max A. Holshouser, Designer and Builder of Decks, Stone Patios, and Other Projects Large and Small, Part 3 of 3


I have been showcasing my husband Max Holshouser’s talents for the last two installments of this well deserved tribute! Max is a quiet man who would never tout  his own horn. Therefore it is easy to overlook what an amazing talent he is! Having been married to him 43 years, and having this forum to write about ancestors, and ancestors to be, gave me the idea to record some of Max’s accomplishments for his own descendants, and current friends and family as well! He is a doer, he quietly goes about honing his crafts and artistry. 

One of the many incredible things I’ve seen Max do is make a cross for children to put flowers on to celebrate Easter. When my sister Anne Prince retired, after teaching 4th grade for 33 years at Saint Christopher’s, a private boys’ Episcopal School in Richmond, Virginia,  she wanted to leave a special gift for the lower school.  She commissioned Max to make a cross that the children could “flower”. I had never seen such a cross! It had many holes drilled into  it so that the children could place the stems of their flowers in the cross. There were enough holes for all the children ages 5 to 12  to reach and use. After flowering the cross,  in a chapel service, it is rolled out to the entrance  of the school for display.   The service was one very meaningful to the whole school! The cross opened so that it could be cleaned and cared for.  A small plaque explains that it is a gift from Anne Prince, what a treasure! 

Max made this cross to flower for Easter for Anne Prince.


The items Max has made are too numerous to feature all of them! However, this cradle that he made for his daughters to sleep in as infants, has held all of his grandchildren as well, and is truly special. Max designed it to function turned upside down as a cofee table, so that it is always in use!  Next to the cradle can be seen a very unique piece of furniture Max designed.  It is a porch table that we painted all one color, but it was made up of six triangle tables that fit together to make one big table, yet could be separated and used as individual tables!  We have used it for a long time, often in pieces scattered about as needed. Then there is the lovely shelf he made for Ali  our pianist and percussionist, with music notes cut into the side! Annie chose a LOVE shelf like the one featured in the first part of this series and it hangs in her home today. Liam is thrilled with his large name that hangs on the wall in his room, and the hockey stick that functions as a coat rack for him. The mantle is another extra effort that Max decided was needed so he designed and built one just for us. Beside the mantle you can see shelves covering one whole wall of the living room that Max made, using heart pine supports to match the heart pine mantle. 

Cradle made for Ali by Max in 1974, still in use  40 years later for grandchildren. Ali likes it. Mattress made by Brenda H. Goodman, Max's sister.DSCF9977 Max made, music shelf for Ali Liam sign made by Max for Liam Mantle Max is making for home in Youngsville DSCF7824DSCF0139


Before we could possibly finish a round up of the “projects by Max” exploration, we have to look at some of his large construction projects! Thankfully for the family, there have been many over the years, all of which have added pleasure, enjoyment, and beauty to our lives! Just look at this incredible craftsmanship!  

In 1974, we moved from an old Victorian to a small row house in Chesterfield County outside of Richmond, Virginia. We did that because we thought the county schools were better than the city schools and had a child getting ready to start school, Ali was 2! (planning ahead!). We chose a very modern redwood house, so different from the lovely old Victorian we had lived in for several years. There was no deck, nothing in fact, on the back of the house we had built.  Max set about to remedy that immediately, designing and building the incredible deck pictured below! Notice the detail if you will, I loved that deck! He made parquet floors, benches with backs, flower pots on the corners, and gracious steps leading down into the yard! We had many parties and family gatherings on that deck! Max’s attention to detail always amazes me! That’s Ali, age 2 sitting on the steps of the deck. 

DSCF0040 Deck on Watchsprings Ct. Deck with Ali on steps at Watch Springs Ct.


After moving to Raleigh, NC in 1980, cheering for the Wolfpack at NC State University and engaging in all of the volunteer work that a growing family gets involved in, we found ourselves at a crossroads for many reasons. In 1995, I got a new job in New Bern, North Carolina and we decided to move the family to the coast. We bought a house in the town of  Havelock, North Carolina as the mental health agency, where I was a psychotherapist, served 5 counties surrounding that area.  In Havelock, Annie started highschool and  Max took a job designing multi-million dollar bottle filling machines for a company called Aylward. At home, he decided to turn his skills from building us a custom-made breakfast nook table, to constructing from scratch, a stick-built shed. He constructed it pretty much all on his own, after designing it of course. He put in a ramp so that he could easily store the ride- on lawn mower! It’s fun to look back and see it come together in pictures! 

Home on Deerwoods Trail, havelock, NC, 1996-2000 Home in Havelock, NC DSCF0068 DSCF0072 DSCF0076 DSCF0082 DSCF0089 DSCF0092


The last of this chapter/tribute to Max’s artisanship, I want to show you where we live now in 2014, and have for the last ten years. We downsized from Havelock, 2350 sq. ft. to 1250 sq. ft! I had become sick with severe and chronic heart disease, and the kids were off -married for Ali and college for Annie, so it didn’t seem we needed much. We needed a one level house for me, back near Raleigh and the hospitals and medical centers where I was spending a lot of time those days.   Max had actually had to have open heart surgery as well, but he had his aortic valve fixed, whereas I was inoperable. So after recovery, Max was back in the game! Teaching at Wakefield High School nearby, Max found this house for us and we fell in love with our neighborhood and diverse neighbors! And I lived! The docs said maybe only five to eight years, max, but its been 15 years, and the blessings continue! Max and my daughters, friends and family who love and support us are a large reason I am still here and thriving! I had gotten so weak, I had to use a wheelchair to go far. But I used my wheelchair like a four-wheeler, running from front yard to back, and sliding out to garden, crawling back in to move again!  Max deserved a medal for helping me succeed! Among other things, he built a deck and ramp in the back yard that was artistic as well as functional! It served as a privacy fence surrounding our patio, so that we could have intimate alfresco dinners with friends!  We have loved it! I watched as Max built a small deck and bench onto the existing screened porch, then gaped as he actually soaked the wood, and curved it, to make a beautifully curved, gently descending ramp! At the bottom of the ramp, Max designed a circular patio that his lifelong friend, Tommy Wagoner, son of a stone mason and a stone artisan himself,  taught him how to build, and indeed, built it right along with him! Friends, now that is one golden one! They built borders, measured and scraped, poured gravel, leveled, laid cement, leveled, laid stone, leveled, so forth and so on…you can see the stunning result! They worked so very hard, and we have enjoyed the beauty for years now! Just last week,  Tommy and his wife Mary came to visit, and very soon Tommy could be seen walking intently around the patio, checking for cracking and upkeep! LOL  We’re being careful of your baby Tommy, Max respects the hard work as well as the joy! 

DSCF9982 DSCF9984 DSCF9986 DSCF9991 DSCF9995 DSCF0001 DSCF0005 DSCF0012 DSCF0009 DSCF0012 DSCF0018 DSCF0024 DSCF0038 DSCF0058 patio garden blooming with daylilies Patio with flowers, file pic front garden with tall liles front garden with iris 2




This gallery contains 40 photos

Max A. Holshouser, Part 2 of 3, Toys, Baking, and String Art!


In the last post, I told you about my husband Max’s love of woodworking and working with stained glass. I want to continue by sharing with you some of the many toys he’s made over the years, some of the special baking he’s done, and his string art! I told you he is a man of many talents, and I wanted to be sure his grandchildren and all his descendants know what a talented man their ancestor Max was! In the next and last part of this tribute I am writing for my husband’s 65th birthday, I want to show you some of his bigger projects, like decks and stone patios! I wish I had one tenth the talent Max Holshouser has! I was smart enough to recognize genius when I saw it, and have always been happy I married this man! 

Let’s talk about toys! Max loves to make toys! His children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews have been the happy recipients of some of his talents. One of the first amazing things I remember his making was a fire engine! Not just any fire engine, but one that was like four feet long, with a rope that wound up, to be the hose, and extending and swiveling ladders! His nephews were the proud recipients of this amazing toy! Made about 1978, it is still being played with by his great-nephew today in 2014! In this picture, our daughter Ali, now grown, is showing off our gift to her cousins!  



Toys by Max, fire engine with ladders exended, plane and Ali!


And how about this six-foot long train? Made about the same time, it has always been stationed at our house for the many children who pass through to enjoy! And they have– both our children and grandchildren have played with it repeatedly! The logs in the log car, have been used for swords, for counting, and a million other things over the years! The train carries reindeer at Christmas time, but has carried army men, Barbie dolls, and a million other things over the years! Notice in one picture below, that our cat Pandora even liked the train! 

Toys by Max, train DSCF9873


This summer of 2014, brought one of Max’s greatest creations so far! He made a Noah’s Ark for his grandchildren, Liam 6, Katy 2, and Evie 8 months. He made pairs of animals and a ramp to go up onto the massive ark! Waiting to welcome the animals are Noah and his wife! The kids love it! 


Toys by Max, Noalh's Ark for Liam and Katy and EvieToys by Max, Liam and Katy play with ark

Max made several of these planes, he loved them himself,  but gave others to friends and family. The puzzles are so delightful and so much fun, we have enjoyed them with the kids and grandkids for years!  Besides the animals, bunny, squirrel, turtle and others, I love the  partridge in the pear tree! Can you tell that hanging up are some trivets? They are so cool, I love them! Then you can see the turtle with the secret drawer in its box! And last but way not least, you can see how much our baby Ali enjoyed the rocking duckie her Dad built for her! There were others,–too many to show, marionettes, and bean bag toss games for home and school! This Santa’s helper  was almost always in his workshop out in our garage! 

Toys by max, plane from front Toys by Max , plane from back Toys by Max, Puzzles , puzzles Toys by max, A partridge in a  pare tree Trivets by MaxTurtle Box made by Max HolshouserTurtle Box with drawer openToys, Rocking Ducky made by Max

How many talents can one man have! Thank you God, many! Besides woodworking , making toys, and being a stained glass artist, Max is a baker and a cook! His mother loved to decorate cakes, and Max must have inherited the genes from her!  Furthermore, one of our daughters, Annie Holshouser, has become a pastry chef! She has just recently gone back to school to earn this certificate, after graduating from Appalachian State University with a business degree some years ago! Do I see a bakery in her future? While Annie has finished her first wedding cakes and won awards lately, her Dad must have inspired her as he produced special cakes year after year for their birthdays! Below I’ve showcased just some of his cakes.  Remember that Annie is really Margaret Anne, and was called Maggie until she decided she wanted to be Annie in highschool! The wedding cake is by Annie, the flowers are made of fondant!  I just had to show you! 

Baker Max makes Winnie the Pooh Cake for Ali's 2nd birthday Baker Max and cake with Snoopy for 3 y o Ali Baker Max, 3 year old Ali loved having Ernie at her party! Baker Max,  Annie was always in love with the mice! Baker Max, birthday cake spelling Maggie Baker Max, agift for Maggie Baker Max , map of NC  for Ali's fourth grade classAnnie's first wedding cake wins a bronze medal!  March 31, 2014

We can’t stop thinking about the baking and creating Max has done over the years without discussing his gingerbread creations! Many, many Christmases our home has been decorated and scented by Max’s incredible gingerbread creations! Before we even had children, Max would begin making something from gingerbread just before Christmas!  We have pictures of many, but i cannot find a picture of one I remember especially well, because it was three feet high! It was a big doll house built of gingerbread, and our only daughter at that time, six-year-old Ali, loved it! (Annie was born two years later.) I cannot believe I cannot find a picture of that incredible house! The first small house shown below was the very first that Max made for us in 1972! He made an enchanting village, trees, snow and all out of gingerbread! I was hooked for life! Look closely at the tower thingy, oh gracious, that was amazing. Unfortunately, the top wouldn’t stay on, so it sat beside the tower for the season, looking stunning! But the piece de resistance was the carousel! Oh how I remember the beauty of that thing! He made reindeer for the horses, and  it was  just a beautiful creation! Using his stained glass skills, he made colored panels for the top of the carousel, out of melted lifesavers! I have a soft spot for carousels, and for my husband Max! LOL Once again I’m sharing one of our pastry chef daughter Annie’s creations with you as well –notice she won a blue ribbon for the gingerbread house she created this past year! 

Baker Max, decorating gingerbread house DSCF9891 Baker Max gingerbread tower Baker Max Baker Max, carousel, gingerbread Annie Holshouser's first gingerbread house wins the blue ribbon, Dec. 2013



Do you remember ever seeing string art ?  It was very popular in the 1970’s, and appealed to Max and me strongly! He loved making it, and I loved seeing it! He ended up making several pieces for us, and several for gifts for others.  String art was made by covering a board with a cloth, or staining it, then placing nails into the wood to form the pattern of the shape you are trying to create! Next you would take your string, yarn, whatever fiber you might choose, and wind it around the nails in specific order so that you would end up with a beautiful pattern, words or shapes! One of the first things Max did was the huge suspension bridge in red on a stained wooden background. That was much lovelier than this picture shows, and we enjoyed it on our walls for many years!  One of our cousins was president of his Civitan club, and liked his design immensely. I hope you will enjoy seeing these and let me know what you think and what is your favorite! 


String art by max, suspension bridge String Art by Max, sailing ship tring art by  Max blue and red circle String Art by Max, Civitan String Art by Max, star like String Art by max DSCF9908String art by Max, owl

Before we leave, let me show you a couple more types of fiber art, string art–in this case cross stitch done by Max! He went to North Carolina State University so  of course he had to do their symbols! They were done years ago but remain on our walls today. He did other crossstitched items meaningful to me especially, but these will take us out of this chapter in the reviewing of Max’s artistic talents. In the next part, I can hardly wait to show you what Max has done as far as bigger construction projects! Less you think I am bragging  mightily, remember that I am trying to detail Max’s legacy and abilities for his descendants so that they might know him! I encourage you all to do something similar, so that following generations will know you and your loved ones also!

Needle Craft by Max, NCSU symbols


This gallery contains 40 photos

Max Alexander Holshouser, Family Man and Extraordinary Craftsman–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #35


Max Alexander Holshouser was born September 2, 1949 and turned 65 years old this week! I am blessed to be his wife of 43 years this December, 2014.  We have two daughters, Margaret Anne Holshouser, originally called Maggie who decided she wanted to be called Annie about age 14;  and Ali–Alexandra Kathryn Holshouser  now married to Greg Orcutt with three children. Our family has been blessed a million times over by the presence of our intelligent, quiet, strong, independent, mild-mannered, Max Holshouser! Max grew up in rural North Carolina in the small town of  Richfield.  He played baseball and football, fished and studied.  Max attended NC State University where he excelled in woodworking and majored in Industrial Arts Education. He first worked in industries more than education, among other things designing machines as a mechanical designer and draftsman.  However, in 2001 Max returned to the classroom  at Wakefield High School in Wake County, North Carolina where he taught CAD Drafting, Engineering, and Architecture for twelve years. While working in the professional world, Max raised two daughters and  took care of a disabled parent, his Dad, the last seven years of his life. Max taught Sunday School, lead the youth group, and lead family camp retreats for his church at Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church. He served as a Legislative Chairman for almost every PTA in every school his children attended, until he stepped up to serve as President of the Wake County PTA Council, helping coordinate conferences and volunteerism throughout Wake County, North Carolina. Unfortunately, at fifty, his wife became disabled with heart disease and again he found himself  the caretaker.  All of these trials and tribulations,  joys and adventures are part of Max Holshouser for sure, but he has another dimension to him that only people who get to know him realize–he is a craftsman with boundless talent! His abilities have brought immeasurable joy to our family and to others. He has gifted many of his accomplishments over the years, and I just have to tell you about the incredible talent Max Holshouser possesses, or better yet, show you!  Happy Birthday my cherished husband, this is a tribute well deserved! 



While he was a student at North Carolina State University, Max made an executive desk as his design project for his senior year. It was made from mahogany, and was beautiful.  It was  6′ long,  3′ wide, and 30″ tall. The drawers slid in and out with total ease, and the wood was satiny smooth! I loved it! We moved it from apartment to house to house, with the rooms becoming smaller and smaller, and our children increasing in number, we just did not have room for it. Max gifted it to his sister for use in her upholstery business showroom in Myrtle Beach, SC. Unfortunately, in 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit and flooded her house and business, destroying the beautiful desk! That hurricane had much worse effects on the family than the loss of this desk, you may want to read about it in this post.

Max's six foot, executive, mahogany desk, made while a student at NCSU, 1970-71. DSCF9732


We married at Christmas in 1971. Max had been working on a rocking chair he was making for his niece Leslie. I remember it well, because, not only was it lovely, but he had to finish it on our honeymoon in order to deliver it by Christmas, 1971! Recently, we received a picture of our great-great niece using the darling rocking chair Max made 43 years ago!


DSCF9734 Amanda's daughter in rocker made by Max in 1971.


1972-1974, Max continued to make furniture, but he also started producing beautiful stained glass pieces. We lived in a modern apartment, and Max made furniture in primary colors to fit our lively, 1970’s decor! We had  red shag carpeting, and faux fur cushions made by his sister Brenda Holshouser Goodman to fit the modern chairs he made! The chairs were black and white, and Max made geometric cubes for tables to match! We had a green and yellow decorative dividing wall between our living and dining room, which lit up softly at night, all designed and built by Max! On the wall was a what-not shelf in lime green that spelled out the word LOVE! How romantic a gift from my new husband! Thank heavens we loved primary colors, because a friend and artist, Dennis Anderson, had given us a wedding present of two  6′ x 4′ canvas panels he had painted bright green in geometric shapes! It was the 1970’s! I always felt cheerful with that furniture!


DSCF9736Max made this what-not shelf, spells LOVE, for Helen in 1972.Notice LP album sand designed and built by Max as well.



Max gifted my parents with many lovely items over the years, and his own parents as well. In 1974 Max made an ottoman for my mother to match a  chair she had asked his sister to upholster.  Brenda upholstered the ottoman  to match! In 1973, the ottoman was white, now in 2014, my parents deceased, we own the ottoman which is still strong and sturdy and now covered in red by our talented Brenda of course!


Max's ottoman made for margaret Youngblood, 1974, upholstered by Brenda Holshouser Goodman. Max's ottoman built in 1974, still in use in his home in 2014, 40 years old!


While he was in college, Max worked for a company that created and installed stained glass windows in churches. He enjoyed working with the glass so very much that he continued to create things throughout his life. In 1974  he worked on several stained glass lamps that he then made more of and gifted to our parents, and our sisters and brothers. The first green one went to my parents and now hangs in  my daughter Ali’s home. The red one went to Max’s parents, but now hangs in our living room as they are also deceased. We have another blue stained glass lamp which was made originally for Max’s parents as well. It now sits proudly in our living room. I remember watching Max create the mold to shape the stained glass globe around! It was amazing to watch it come together. Over the years he made a transom window for some friends, and many small stained glass sun catchers. What a creative man!


DSCF9589 DSCF9788 DSCF9790 DSCF9596

DSCF9796blue stained glass globe


There is so much more I want to show you, I’ve hardly begun! I’d like to show you his string art, and his cross stitched designs that we have loved for many years! There are the decks, stone patio, and sheds he’s constructed!  Then there are the toys: trains, planes, puzzles, and Noah’s Ark among others! Come back for chapter two! Isn’t it amazing how many gifts God gave this man, my husband Max?! Some people sing, some dance, some are great orators, Max is an artist, an artisan, an awesome man! Happy Birthday honey, I love you with all my heart.

Click here for Part 2,  Max A. Holshouser, Toys, Baking, and String Art!

Click here for Part 3 of 3: Max A. Holshouser, Designer  and Builder of Decks, Stone Patios, and Other Projects Large and Small


This gallery contains 27 photos

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



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.


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.




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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Andreas Holtzhousen, 1741-1810, brings the Holshousers to North Carolina—52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, #21


Last week I told you about Casper Haulzhaufen, my husband’s 5th great grandfather coming to America aboard ship, and landing in Philadelphia in 1731. Casper married Margaretha Bingham, and had five children, three sons and two daughters: Johannes Jacob Holtzhauser, b.1732; Anna Margaretha Holtzhauser, b. 1737; Andreas (Andrew) Holtzhauser, b. 1741; Michael Holtzhauser, 1743; and Catharina Holtzhauser, b.1745.

Andrew was the first of this immediate family to move to North Carolina. He married Anna Maria Wiand while in Pennsylvania and had twelve children in all. Andrew and three of his siblings and their families joined other German settlers in leaving Pennsylvania. They traveled arduously down the main highway back then. It was honed from an Indian trail, called the Wagon Road, or Staunton Road. In fact, Andreas, or Andrew as he became known, was a wagoner who became well-known for his craftsmanship in making Conestoga Wagons. From the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, we learn that “in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries-long before the era of tractor trailers, and before the development of a railroad system-Conestoga wagons were the primary vehicles for hauling freight. These wagons carried flour and other farm products from the hinterland to the cities, and they brought back commodities needed by the farmers and their families. This was especially true during the period from about 1750 to 1855, particularly in Pennsylvania and the neighboring states of Maryland, Virginia, and Ohio.

 Skilled workers were needed to build these wagons. And around 1770, Lancaster included among its craftsmen five wheelwright, thirteen blacksmiths, seven turners, and twenty woodworkers.” Among those skilled craftsmen, one stood out– Andreas Holshouser! In fact, we are truly blessed to have one of his Conestoga Wagons still here in North Carolina today! It is displayed in the N.C. Museum of Transportation in Spencer, NC. We can hardly wait to take our grandchildren to see this wonderfully designed invention! In fact, the design of the wagon is so intricate and interesting, I am going to include the link for this article from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission about the building of the Conestoga for my woodworking family and friends so that they might enjoy reading the specifics of how this hard-working but artistically designed vehicle was made.


In those wagons the settlers hauled their household and farm equipment  down the trail, herding their animals before them. The trail passed through the wilderness from Pennsylvania to Georgia, through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, along the Blue Ridge, following the Staunton River southward across the Dan River to the Yadkin River and Rowan County, North Carolina which at that time stretched from mid state to the Mississippi river.

From land records and censuses, it looks like Casper stayed in Pennsylvania along with his son Jacob. In his will in 1785, Casper stated his intention to move to North Carolina with his other children, but he never had the opportunity to do that.

We don’t know exactly when Andrew arrived in North Carolina, but we see his name on a property deed in 1774 when he bought 200 acres of land from Christopher Rendleman on “the north fork of Dutch Second Creek”. At least six of his twelve children would have been born by then, can you imagine traveling with six little children in a covered wagon from Pennsylvania to North Carolina?- with no air conditioning? -No bed? Hostile Indians in the area? Over the next twenty years, Andrew added over 400 acres to his farm. The area Andrew settled was part of a larger community of settlers of German descent, with names that included Miller, Meisenheimer, Clutts (Klutz), Lintzs, Yost and others who became good friends and intermarried over the years. These families were descended from Palatinate Germans also and lived up to their reputations of intelligence and industriousness. The Holshousers are credited with helping establish up to four churches in the area.

Of Andrew’s twelve children, John moved to Texas and others moved to Illinois. Many of the Holshouser families stayed in North Carolina however. Andrew’s son Casper became the most well-known when he married Sarah Sally Barger and had ten children of his own. Casper’s son Charles is my husband’s second great-grandfather, and his son James moved to Blowing Rock, NC with his family—pushing and pulling those wagons up the narrow mountain roads! While Blowing Rock is one of the premiere tourist attractions in North Carolina today, the Holshouser family was responsible for paving the streets and establishing two stores and a lovely home which helped create the beautiful little mountain town. James’s great grandson, James Eubert Holshouser, Jr., became the Governor of North Carolina in 1972.

Every year in the Spring in North Carolina we have a Holshouser reunion of the families of Max’s grandfather, John Calvin Holshouser, his wife Ila Victoria Sides, and his ten children and their families. We lost the last of the ten children in 2011, and it was very hard to see that whole generation go. We “children” are now the old folks who have to keep the reunion going until our own “children”, the middle agers, take over.  Each year we meet at Grace Lower Stone Church in Rockwell, NC, a church where the land was given by the Holshousers and the Lingles, cousins who moved to Illinois.  We were there just last week and I had the opportunity to tour the graveyard with my grandchildren. What a wonderful experience that was, seeing it through the eyes of a child. My six-year-old grandson Liam tried to count all the Holshouser stones, but gave out long before he reached the almost 100 Holshouser stones there out of the almost 700 total. It did not feel dark and spooky, just the opposite, it felt peaceful and as if it were a safe place– embracing the children and me in family history. I noticed the other stones were full of family names like Klutz, Meisenheimer, and the other families of German ancestry who moved to the area along with our Holshousers over 200 years ago! It is such an incredible feeling to walk where your ancestors have trod.

Grace Lower Stone Church

Grace Lower Stone Church, Rockwell, NC

I am especially indebted for some of this information to our original family researchers and authors: Dr. Grace Duff in her A Casper “Holtzhauser” Holshouser Genealogy,  and Patricia Beck who shared much of the family history she had painstakingly collected with me. How blessed I feel to have been part of this family for almost 43 years now and to have helped raise two Holshouser daughters and grandchildren. Thanks for sharing this journey with me, I look forward to hearing from you. Helen



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Casper Haulzhausen,1708-1785, Immigrant with a Governor G.G.G.G.Grandson–52 ancestors in 52 weeks, #20


Philadelphia Harbor in the 1700s

Philadelphia harbor in the 1700’s, unknown artist

Casper Haulzhausen arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania August 16, 1731, age 23, aboard the ship “Samuel”. He immigrated from the Palatinate area of Germany where he was born in 1708. The ship Samuel was captained by Hugh Peirch, ship master from Rotterdam. Upon arrival, the spelling of his name was changed to Holtzhousen. Later, one of his sons changed the spelling to Holshouser as we use it today. It’s so exciting to find  your ancestor’s name on the passenger’s list when they arrived–to think of that long journey, and to see the men, women ,and children with whom they traveled.  Casper arrived here on August 16, 1731, and on August 17 was required to take an oath of allegiance. You might wonder–or assume that he was showing allegiance to his new country of America–but as I am prone to forget, we were not our own country yet, so yes, he had to take an oath of allegiance to the current King of England! 

Casper, ships passenger list and oath of allegience approval

“We the subscribers, natives and late inhabitants of the Palatinate upon the Rhine and places adjacent, having transported ourselves into this Province of Pennsylvania, a colony subject to the Crown of Great Britain, in hopes and expectation of finding a retreat and peaceable settlement therein: Do solemnly promise and engage that we will be faithful and bear true allegiance to his present Majesty King George II, and his successors, and will be faithful to the Proprietors of this Province; and that we will demean ourselves peaceably to all his said Majesty’s subjects, and strictly observe and conform to the laws of England and of this Province to the utmost of our power and best of our understanding.” 

Casper, b.1708, is my husband Max Holshouser’s fifth great-grandfather, of course that makes him my childrern’s sixth, and my grandchildren’s seventh great-grandfather! I believe time does fly! Three hundred and eight years since he was born–and I cannot even count the thousands of ancestors spread across the United States!  However, I actually know someone who might be able to do just that! I met Jerri McCoy a couple of years ago, I think on ancestry.com. She was collecting information from my Holshouser family tree and we started “talking”.  I was very surprised and somewhat awed to learn that she had been researching the Holshousers  for many years, and is collecting a master database of Holshousers in the USA! How incredible! I was happy to share my tree with her, and have enjoyed working with her for  some time since then! If you would like to access her database and learn how to be in touch with her, leave me a message and I will send you the link. 

Back to Casper, who met and married Margaretha Bingham in 1732, one year after arriving in America. She was from Germany also, having been born there in 1709. Together they had  five children, three sons and two daughters: 

Johannes Jacob Haulzhausen, Birth 17 Jun 1732-Death 1787

Anna Margaretha Haulzhausen, Birth 1737

Andreas Holtzhousen, Birth 1741-Death, 1810

Michael Holtzhousen, Birth 1743-Death 1810

Catharina Holtzhauser, Birth 1745-Death 1784

Andreas was the first child to move away to North Carolina, but most of the rest of the family followed. In the next post I want to tell you about their trip to NC, and where you can see examples of Andreas’ fine craftsmanship on display still today! Andreas had twelve children. His son Casper, 1785,went on to found my husband’s direct line.  Casper’s son Charles led to Max, and his son  James moved to Blowing Rock, NC and founded the line producing the Governor of North Carolina, James Eubert Holshouser Jr, Max’s third cousin once removed.  Isn’t it amazing –from a single young man arriving alone on a boat, in a foreign country, to fathering the Governor of North Carolina! These early Holshouser immigrants have reason to be proud of their heritage, and of the hard work of their descendants Just  yesterday, my husband of 43 years, Max Alexander Holshouser and I , and our two daughters and three grandchildren, all went to the Holshouser Reunion held annually in our state. It is so much fun to get together- there where the Holshousers settled in the mid 1700’s! You can almost feel their presence in the church in which we meet! More about that next time. 

Casper Holtzhauser (1708 – 1785)
is your 5th great-grandfather
son of Casper Holtzhauser
son of Andreas Holtzhousen
son of Casper Holshouser
son of Charles Holshouser
son of Jacob Luther Holshouser
son of John Calvin Holshouser
You are the son of Henry Max Holshouser



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Granddaughter Katy Turns Two Years Old Today, January 21, 2014


My precious  granddaughter Katy turns two years old today! We celebrated with her last night!  I thought I’d present this slideshow to honor her and commemorate her life! I love you Katy darling!  If I may suggest–Katy loves Elmo, so I thought you could listen to his songs while you watched the slideshow! Hope you enjoy it! Helen

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My Reputation?—Zero to Hero Challenge—Day 16

Unfortunately, it does seem that reputation matters. I say unfortunately because I have just enough “flower child” in me to want to say “Let it all hang out!” “Do what you want!” “Live for today, for the moment!” I did come of age in the sixties! Lol

However, I also went to church, and was raised by a Catholic mother. I was very responsible,  and worked early on– age 15 as a candy striper—helping sick people, ages 16-23 as a lifeguard–where my reputation as vigilant, an excellent swimmer, and observant of details meant a job for me! In high school no less, I was very cognizant of my reputation! I served as President of a couple of clubs—including the Future Teachers of America, and the Photography Club…and my teachers were proud of me, so I minded my reputation.

But, that got tiresome…always doing what others expected! So…when I went off to college—out of state where nobody knew me, and Mom and Dad were far away….I decided to hell with reputation!  I decided my freshman year, age 18, to throw caution to the wind! I chose not to join any clubs, not to be an officer anywhere, anyhow! I ran, played, dated, danced, cut classes and had a blast! Oh yes, and I almost flunked right out of college by my sophomore year! I was doing at age 18 and 19, what I should have done at ages 15 and 16—rebelling against the “system”!  I’d gotten it backwards! LOLDSCF7921 When I was told by the registrar, that I couldn’t come back my junior year unless I went to summer school and got two “A’s, I was shocked! I had partied myself into quite a pickle! After crying hysterically for an hour or so, I had to figure out what I was going to do. My parents were on the way to pick me up, and they were not going to be happy! Oh,my Dad wouldn’t care—he’d just say “I told you so—told you girls should be barefoot and pregnant—not in college!” No way was I going to let that happen! So, I dried my eyes, and called my favorite Aunt—who happened to have no children of her own—I needed her to adopt me at the moment! And she saved my college career and future! She gave me money for summer school—and I earned those two “A’s” by damn! That was my wakeup call! I vowed to myself I’d get serious…and pretty much, I did! In two more years, I graduated, and started teaching emotionally disturbed children. I married and had a child by age 25. By 28 I was in graduate school and getting straight “A’s”—me! Nobody was more surprised! I remember deciding, within myself, that I would have a reputation of dependability. That I would be the professional people needed me to be, after all, I had become a family therapist—I had to earn and deserve my clients’ trust! And I did! I’m not saying I never made a mistake…surely I did. But I tried very hard to be trustworthy and good at what I did—I studied, researched, lectured…it was great. And I hope I helped people, I believe I did—was told I did. I won some acknowledgement from my peers that I was doing a good job–plaques that symbolized awards and achievements. I was elected president of PTA’s and VP of the Mental Health Association, was made an elder in my church—and yes, it seemed that my good reputation was intact! I intended to work forever…I loved my life! 

Neuse Mental Health Center, new Bern, NC

Neuse Mental Health Center, New Bern, NC

Then I got sick….like wham! I began to faint before I could get around the grocery store.  I would feel faint as I headed out the door to take my daughter to school and go to work! I chalked it up to blood sugar issues and ignored it! I was a mild diabetic, but rarely had trouble. I would eat better I swore! And…I would test my blood sugar more regularly…just as soon as I could find where I put that darn little machine!

Unfortunately, in a matter of a couple of weeks, it got so bad, I couldn’t ignore it—so on the way home from work one night—I pulled into an urgent care center. The doctor heard me out, hooked me up to an EKG machine…and that ended my life as I knew it! When he said I had to go right to the hospital, that I couldn’t drive the five minutes home to pack a bag or get my husband, that he was calling an ambulance because I was having a heart attack, well—I was in complete denial! I looked at him with my mouth falling open—and said “You’ve got to be kidding!”

EKG showing heart attack

This is an example, not my personal EKG

The news just kept on getting worse—I was to be air flighted to Duke Hospital—a couple hours away and one of the big guns of hospitals! “You’ve got to be kidding!”—I was very erudite! I was also only 50 years old! My youngest was a senior in high school—going to college next year—I could not be sick! But I was!

The reputation I’d worked so hard to build…dissolved in front of my eyes! I became instead of a vibrant lecturer and therapist– a sick person! I was in and out of the hospital for a year, and diagnosed with inoperable, stage four, coronary artery disease! They said I’d only live about five years without a heart transplant! I couldn’t do it! I couldn’t stand the thought that I would live because someone else had died! No way! The week they told me that I needed a transplant, a man in my church–eight years my junior, father of three young children, and soccer coach had died suddenly of a heart attack! Would it be right, fair, for me to live, and him to die!? I had to say no. I knew all the psychological ramifications and meanings that went with that decision…but there it was.

As it turns out, I was allowed to have some experimental surgery at Duke…open heart, where they shot 18 laser holes in my heart—in hopes of creating new channels to carry oxygen around my heart—kind of like creating new blood vessels! A few years after having that surgery, called TMR or Transmyocardial Revascularization…the researchers said it was not helpful..hadn’t done what they’d hoped, and they stopped performing the procedure. I expected to die. But hey…I didn’t!

Royal Red Divas in the Youngsville Christmas Parade, 2012. Lorna Harris in back foreground, Monica Richardson i back waving Annie Holshouser driving, Helen Holshouser beside her in front.

Royal Red Divas in the Youngsville Christmas Parade, 2012

For a long time I wouldn’t go to church. Church had always been a place I liked…but I couldn’t stand to be seen as that old lady in the wheelchair with the heart condition!  I didn’t want that reputation! Recently however, I joined a church with my husband. It was a major milestone regarding my self-esteem. I knew some people would look at me and think…that old lady in the wheelchair. But I knew better—I was a heart patient with chronic disease yes, but I was so much more! My red hat sisters had taught me I could still have fun—be silly—laugh and love life! My facebook friends, and my ancestry.com fellow researchers challenged me intellectually and gave me love! My family, oh my family…they all deserve medals! They loved me, sacrificed for me, supported me…and allowed me to grow into a different, but happy and productive person. Thank you!

 I’m alive, I’m thrilled—reputation—who needs it—it only leads to judgments, from self and others, and I just want to live and enjoy each moment! So it seems I’ve come full circle–from believing reputation is important–to being relieved it is no more! I acknowledge that young people have to mind their reputation, to be respected professionally and personally. Well…would you look at that…one of the major blessings and freedoms of growing older–no one to answer to but yourself! Helen    (this article was written in response to Day 16 assignment from the Zero to Hero Challenge–http://dailypost.wordpress.com/zero-to-hero/#16)