Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.


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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! 

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

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Popular Books and my Royal Ancestors–Elizabeth Woodville,Queen of England, Jacquetta de Luxembourg, and Margaret Beaufort– 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks–16

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Westmenster Abbey

Westmenster Abbey

I remember when I first found “the Royals” in my family tree–in my direct line!  I was so excited! I knew my daughters and sister would be happy about it–after all, they grew up on Disney Princesses and now they were kin to real queens and kings! Then, just in the last week, I heard a friend talking about how much she liked Philippa Gregory’s books about Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Jacquetta de Luxembourg! Well, I recognized those names, so I sat up and paid attention. As it turns out, Philippa Gregory writes historical fiction, and several of her books have been turned into movies.  One of her series is about “The Cousins’ War–the war of the Roses in real life! A wonderfully succinct article in Wikipedia tells us about this series:

The Cousins’ War Series

  1. The White Queen (2009) – The story of Elizabeth Woodville, the queen consort of King Edward IV of England and mother of Edward V.
  2. The Red Queen (2010) – The story of Lady Margaret Beaufort and her quest to place her son Henry Tudor on the English throne.
  3. The Lady of the Rivers (2011) – The story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville.
  4. The Kingmaker’s Daughter (2012) – The story of Anne Neville, daughter of Warwick “the Kingmaker” and wife of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and later of Richard III of England, and of Anne’s elder sister Isabel Neville, wife of George Duke of Clarence
  5. The White Princess (2013) – The story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV. Wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII of England.

(Also, The King’s Curse, formerly known as The Last Rose (TBA) – Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury)

The chronological order of the books is

  • The Lady of the Rivers
  • The White Queen
  • The Red Queen
  • The Kingmaker’s Daughter
  • The White Princess
  • The King’s Curse (not yet released)”

The Lady of the RiversI checked our family tree, and sure enough, Jacquetta de Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford, is my 17th great-grandmother! This descendancy chart shows the relationship for me and all my Langhorne cousins of my generation.

Jacquetta of Luxembourg

 

Jacquetta “Duchess of Bedford” Luxembourg (1416 – 1472)-updated March, 2017.

is your 17th great-grandmother

 Jacquetta Wydeville (1444-1479)

daughter of Jacquetta “Duchess of Bedford” Luxembourg

Joan Strange (1463 – 1514)

daughter of Jacquetta Wydeville

Jane Stanley (1485 – 1557)

daughter of Joan Strange

Edmund Sheffield, 1st Baron Sheffield (1521 – 1549)

son of Jane Stanley

Eleanor Sheffield (1538 – 1595)

daughter of Edmund Sheffield, 1st Baron Sheffield

John 1st Earl of Clare, Holles (1564 – 1636)

son of Eleanor Sheffield

Robert Hollis (1590 – )

son of John 1st Earl of Clare, Holles

Susanna Hollis (1613 – 1681)

daughter of Robert Hollis

Maj. Robert Beverley Sr. (1641 – 1687)

son of Susanna Hollis

Mary Beverley (1678 – )

daughter of Maj. Robert Beverley Sr.

Mary Rice (1683-1798)

daughter of Mary Beverley

Maj. William Langhorne (1721 – 1797)

son of Mary Beverley

Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne (1760 – 1797)

son of Maj. William Langhorne

Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne (1790 – 1854)

son of Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne

James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne (1822 – 1905)

son of Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne

Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne (1866 – 1900)

daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne

Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883 – 1943)

daughter of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne

Margaret Steptoe Kerse (1918 – 1980)

daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins

Helen Spear Youngblood

You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse

 

 

Woodville, Elizabeth, Queen of England

Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England, portrait ownership unknown

The White Queen–Jacquetta’s daughter Elizabeth Woodville, (1437-1492) became the Queen of England when she married King Edward IV of the Plantagenets. In Philippa Gregory’s work, Elizabeth is portrayed as the White Queen.   In real life, she was my 17th Great Grand Aunt!  Her mother , Jacquetta , Duchess of Bedford, Luxembourg (1416-1472) being my 17th great grandmother.  I descend through Elizabeth’s sister, Jacquetta Wydeville, (1444-1479)who is my 16yh great grandmother.

Queen of England Elizabeth Woodville (1437 – 1492)-updated, March, 2017
is your 17th great grand aunt
mother of Queen of England Elizabeth Woodville
Jacquetta Wydeville (1444-1479)
daughter of Jacquetta “Duchess of Bedford” Luxembourg
daughter of Jacquetta Wydville
daughter of Joan Strange
son of Jane Stanley
daughter of Edmund Sheffield, 1st Baron Sheffield
son of Eleanor Sheffield
son of John 1st Earl of Clare, Holles
daughter of Robert Hollis
son of Susanna Hollis
daughter of Maj. Robert Beverley Sr.
Mary Rice (1683-1798)
daughter of Mary Beverley
son of Mary Rice
daughter of Col. Maurice Scarsbrooke 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
 As of this update of March, 2017, I am no longer  blood related to the Red Queen, Margaret Beaufort, 1443-1509.  She is somply one of the wives of my  16th great grandfather, Thomas Stanley, 1435-1504.  This change occured when we dropped the Welsh descendancy of our Langhornes.  However, the family “connection” still stands. 
The White Princess is identified as  Queen of England, Elizabeth York Plantagenet, 1456-1503.  She is now  my first cousin  17 times removed.   She is the daughter of  the White Queen, Queen of Enland Elizabeth Woodville, and the granddaughter of the Lady of the Rivers,  Jacquetta of Luxembourg. How interesting to actually be part of this family1  
However, as exciting as this is, and yes, I did buy the books, there are some major controversies about these descendancy charts which might render them historical fiction themselves! How sad would that be! First of all, John Perrott has been reported as an illegitimate son of King Henry VIII in a great deal of history. It is reported that even King Henry VIII recognized him as his son, educated him and provided for him. If that is true, then our descendancy is true, and our DNA would match, if we had some DNA from that line, I am looking into that. Recently, several authors have come along to say this is not true, but their ‘evidence’ seems all circumstantial to me.
It feels the same for another controversy that I just learned about this past week! For all these years, in most historical works, researchers have believed and accepted that Mary Beverley, b. 1678 in Jamestown, Virginia, married John Langhorne. However,  it is now believed that  Mary Beverley’s daughter, Mary Rice was the true wife of John Langhorne. There are four sons named William Beverly  Langhorne in this family line, why would that  be except to honor and carry on the Beverly name? I may be wrong but I have not been able to identify a single child or grandchild carrying the name Rice!  However, there is a court case–better explained by this article available at http://www.geni.com/people/Mary-Langhorne/6000000012953341622  

“Controversy about Mary Beverley as wife of John Langhorne

About Mary Langhorne (Beverley)

General Notes: There is great controversy over the identity of John Langhorne’s wife. Most agree that she is a “Mary” but the agreement ends there.
1. Support for the name, “Mary Rice”:

During October 1736 in a case before the court in Warwick County (?), Virginia (Sir John Randolph’s reports, Vol 1, 1725-1745, case R109 by Randolph, B53 by Barrandall (whatever all of that means)) John Langhorne was a defendant in Jones vs Langhorne. The action was to recover the possession of slaves belonging to the estate of Mary Rice. Mary Rice was married to a Myers with four children and the suggestion is that Myers died and she remarried to John Langhorne.

Circumstantially, the Rice family have a history in Warwick County, Virginia, apparently close to the Langhornes living at “Gambell”.
2. Support for the name “Mary Beverley”.

The first son of Maurice Langhorne 1719 was William Beverley Langhorne born about 1790, suggesting a relationship with the Beverley family. According to David Hackett Fischer in his book on the sociology of colonial America, “Albion’s Seeds”, he says naming practices were such that the first-born son would often (but not always) be named after a grandfather (either one), provided he was reputable, and the first son would also carry the maiden name of his mother as a middle name, considered an honor to her. Note that William Beverley Langhorne is the name of Maurice Langhorne’s first-born son. A clue, not evidence. (Second or third son gets dad’s name). The second son was named Maurice Cary Langhorne. This would seem to indicate that this family followed the rules more often than not.

Thomas Litten in his article on the Langhorne family claims that Mary Beverley is the name of John’s spouse. (see notes under John Langhorne – this family)”

In my opinion, this is not proof that Mary Rice is my 6th great-grandmother instead of Mary Beverley! I will stick with the Beverleys until someone proves it differently! After all, I did take my own autosomal DNA on ancestry.com, and I have many matches, at least 40, to the Beverleys–Mary’s family specifically. Unfortunately, I have a few matches to the Rice family as well, but not necessarily to Mary Rice’s family.  We do not  have  definitive proof either way it seems to me! I’m sure we will have the proof we need sometime in the future, genealogy is always a work in progress, with new information coming to light every day, week, month and year that intelligent people conduct their research. Here’s to the process, hope yours is a great adventure also! If you have had these types of controversies, or if you have read these books,  I’d love to hear about them!  

****Update March 16, 2017: Since publishing this post, continued research has convinced me that indeed, the Langhornes  of our family came from England, not Wales!  Hard to give up tradition!   I have also become convinced that Mary Rice, daughter of Mary Beverley is the true wife of  our original immigrant to America, John Langhorne.  I have changed the above descendancy charts to reflect the most current information.  Research is always a process, with new information being constantly discovered!

Have a great week,Helen

 

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Celebrating 143 years of St. Patrick’s Day Parades! Robert Kerse -52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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St. Patrick's Day Parade

My Irish heritage is something that I’ve always been proud of,  perhaps because my mother was proud of it also, and instilled that belief in me. She grew up an Irish Catholic, so it shouldn’t surprise me that her family was involved with the Hibernian Society. The AOH , Ancient Order of Hibernians, was an organization originating in Ireland, that started in America in 1836 and  is still active today. In Ireland, and in the early days of America, the society existed to advocate, and even protect, with violence if need be, Irish Catholics from prejudicial treatment. It is still active today, promoting Irish cultural awareness,celebrations, and charitable activities.  

I think it is so interesting, that as I studied my  ancestors, I discovered my fourth great grandparents, the Scottish Covenanters, fighting against the Catholics for the right to their personal covenant with God. Then here I discover that my Irish ancestors belonged to an organization called the Hibernian Society to fight, if need be, to support their right to be Catholic! It seems I descend  from some brave and strong-willed people.  It also reminds me that part of the reason they came to America, was to find religious freedom without persecution!

Robert Kerse arrived in America in 1850, as a 18-year-old Irish immigrant. He sailed from the Kilinaboy Parish, in County Clare, Ireland  to the Port of Boston with his brother Thady and his mother Ann. They came South and  joined another brother already living in Richmond,Virginia. By 1855 at the ripe old age of 20, Robert had married a woman named Margaret and had his first child, a son named Thomas. On the censuses we can see that he worked as a grocer, then in later years as a “turnkey”, a guard in the prison system–perhaps influencing his son James and his grandson Thomas Philip to both become police officers.  By 1863, at age 28, he was fighting in the Civil War where we can find records on Fold3.com of his horse being shot out from under him! By 1871, at 35 yeas old, the war is over, and he has buried two of the seven children he already has. (We know that  he will have three more children, with two more dying in the next couple years!)  Can you imagine?  Most of us do not have such incredible experiences in  our whole life! Yet, when I went to the newspaper archives on Geneaalogybank.com, what did I find, but a wonderful article about his attending a meeting of the Hibernian Society in 1871, where he was put in charge of organizing people in his part of town who wanted to be in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade! His resilience seems remarkable to me! 

I was born and raised in Richmond also, Robert’s  great great-granddaughter. One of the most fun things we did as a family was going to the parades which were abundant in Richmond! When I married and later moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, we also attended the St. Patrick’s Day parades, because they were  fun and to honor our Irish heritage. So, when I found this article, I was stunned to realize that my family had been enjoying and celebrating St.Patrick’s Day with parades for 143 years at least! Wow! Both of my daughters were in marching bands, and both marched in parades as teenagers–it must be in the genes!

Kerse, Robert, hibernian Society, p.1Kerse, Robert  hibernian, p.2Kerse, Robert, Hibernian, p.3Kerse, Robert, hibernian, p.4

Not knowing about my great, great grandfather’s involvement with the Hibernian Society, I think it is serendipitous that as the hostess for my Red Hat Society Group, I arranged for us to go to the Hibernian Irish Pub for our gathering this week! We had a great time, celebrating an early St. Patrick’s day with many o’ toasts as you n see in the picture below.  I was one of four “birthday girls” celebrating this month, and I loved some of the birthday  and friendship toasts offered: 

“May your troubles be less, And your blessings be more–And nothing but happiness come through your door!”

“Here’s to your coffin! May your coffin have six handles of finest silver, May your coffin be carried by six fair young men! And may your coffin be made of the finest wood from a 100-year-old tree, that I shall plant tomorrow!”

“May those who love us, love us. And those that don’t love us, may God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, So we’ll know them by their limping.”

“May God grant you always…A sunbeam to warm you, A moon beam to charm you,  A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you!”

These toasts and many more can be found on numerous sites on the internet by simply googling “Irish toasts and blessings”.

Royal Divas, I'll toast to that!

The Royal Red Divas toast to St. Patrick and friendship!

I’ll leave you to celebrate your St. Patrick’s Day with this Irish blessing which is very special to me as it was offered at my husband Max’s and my wedding 43 years ago! Have a wonderful day! Helen

“May the road rise to meet you.

 May the wind be always at y our back.

 May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.”-author unknown

 
 

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

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Lady Jane, boat belonging to Thomas P.Kerse

Lady Jane

For years now I have been begging my family to find old pictures they might have of the Lady Jane! This was a boat, at 50 feet long, a small yacht,  belonging to my maternal grandfather, Thomas Philip Kerse whom you may have read about in the post I just finished, or in the post regarding his first boat the Evelyn, apparently co-owned by him and his father James H. Kerse. My mother talked often and lovingly of the Lady Jane and her family’s adventures traveling on her– picnicking on the Chesapeake Bay– diving off her –swimming and playing with their large family and friends. My older sister and brother had at least both seen the boat of the many stories, but I never had, because the family had sold the boat when my grandfather died, long before I came along.  So  you can imagine my surprise and delight when I came across a word press blog post about the Lady Jane! The post was written about 5 years ago by  Preston Larus and I found it through a google search! I had been searching for photographs through newspaper archives for a long while, perhaps I had never just googled her, regardless, I was thrilled to find this picture and story! In fact, I was so thrilled, that I contacted the author Preston who could not have been more solicitous and friendly! We talked about Richmond and specifically the area where we had both lived as children! He was not aware of the “back story” of the Lady Jane–who had owned it before his grandfather, and that it had been as beloved by that family as by his own! Can you imagine the stories that boat could tell if it could talk! 

My mother was one of six sisters and one brother who traveled with their police officer father Tom and nurse mother Katherine aboard the Lady Jane! In fact the Lady Jane was named after their youngest child, Janey Bell, b. 1923; as the Evelyn, their first boat had been named after their first child Evelyn, b. 1912 (or Katherine’s mother, Evelyn Langhorne). Mom often spoke of the friends they invited to travel with them on this remarkable boat! What I didn’t know was that my grandfather often captained the boat for chartered trips–to Albany, New York, Philadelphia, Pa., Washington, DC, Maryland, the Eastern Shore, Islands. He took day trips as well up and down the James River.  He also held fundraisers for various groups especially for Sheltering Arms Hospital where my grandmother had graduated in the first class of nursing students! I can find all this in newspaper articles at genealogybank.  It all seemed so romantic and adventurous–and it colored the dreams of this author as a child! Below, I am going to share with you a newspaper clipping I found about the Lady Jane, but more importantly, I am going to share part of the blog post by Preston Larus, with his permission! 

Kerse, Thomas, Lady jane, fundraiser for Sheltering Arms

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Boats We Love

by Preston Larus

I welcome your comments, suggestions, and referrals.

Preston Larus

Preston@BoatsAndWaterfront.com

(941) 232-3574          FAX (941) 296-7336

Keller Williams Realty – Lakewood Ranch

6710 Professional Parkway, Suite 301

Sarasota FL 34240

 

http://boatsandwaterfront.wordpress.com/messing-about-in-boats-2/boats-we-love/

The Lady Jane

Lady Jane, different view

My grandfather was a Chancery Court judge in Richmond, Virginia in the ’40s and ’50s, but every summer he took a month off and sailed the Chesapeake Bay. When he got too old to handle sail, he bought the Lady Jane, a 50-foot Chesapeake deadrise workboat hull fitted with a cruising boat cabin structure. By the time I was a boy, my uncle Brockenbrough Lamb Jr. owned the boat and visited us every summer for a weekend or so. In the eyes of a 10 year-old, there was nothing more grand, from her pilothouse trimmed in green leather, to the helsman’s seat (a huge green stool with a steel tractor seat atop it, to her massive Yachtsman-style anchor. Long and skinny, she got by with just around 80 horsepower, and tooled along at about 9 knots. She went to the wreckers a decade or so ago, but not before logging thousands of miles up and down the Bay and down the intercoastal to Florida.

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

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Photo of Richmond Police Dept.

Police wagon paddy wagon, Black Maria, driven by Thomas Kerse in 1910

Example of police wagon, Black Maria, driven by Thomas Kerse in 1910, actual picture from Wikicommons.

My grandfather Thomas Philip Kerse, was a police officer in Richmond, Virginia as was his Dad before him–Sergeant James H. Kerse. I wrote about his Dad just a week ago which you can read here if you like. Thomas Philip Kerse was born in 1884 and died in 1939, at 55 years old. He started working for the police department in 1910 when he was 26. In 1911 he married my grandmother, Katherine Steptoe Houchins. Together they had seven children, one son and six daughters! Their only son, called Bucky,  drowned in the James River when he was only 8 years old.  You can read his story in this blog post if you’d like. The six girls were a moving force! They were a close-knit family and “the sisters” were the matriarchs of our collective families, and my mother Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood was one of them! Unfortunately, they were no strangers to tragedy, as their mother, a nurse was shot in the head by a private duty patient she was attending–blogged about as well.

We were told that our grandfather drove a police car, but I never really thought about what a remarkable thing that was until I began researching and realized that automobiles weren’t often found in public in the United States  before 1907! Police departments generally still used horses and carriages. For him to be hired specifically to drive one of the first police cars for the Richmond City Police Department in 1910 in Virginia, now means a lot more ! I found several articles about his driving the “Paddy Wagon” or the “Black Maria”. Both of these were slang names for the police wagon used to pick up prisoners–especially those resisting arrest. I was so pleased to find these newspaper articles from the Richmond Times Dispatch on genealogybank.com, about his being hired, about a police parade review with him driving the “Black maria”, and about his shooting a rabid dog!

The story I like the most however, is the story about Grandpa Tom’s own dog! Apparently he had a beloved setter whom he walked around town regularly. One day the setter got loose and ran up on a train trestle crossing the James River. Tragically, a train was coming! The dog realized it, but didn’t have time to run off the trestle! Apparently several witnesses saw the dog panic, running wildly back and forth between the trestles, and they all thought he would be killed instantly!  However, at the last moment, Tom’s dog went to the very center of the tracks, laid down flat between the rails, and the train ran right over him! When the train cleared the trestle, the townspeople ran onto the bridge, expecting to find the worst. Instead, Tom’s dog jumped up to greet them seemingly unharmed! What a miracle!

Please share the next chapter of my story of Thomas P. Kerse as I get to tell you about my amazing discovery of another blog about what was once his boat–the Lady Jane! Thanks for joining me in my family stories, have a great week, Helen

Kerse, Thomas, dog caught on train trestlle

Thomas Kerse’s dog caught on train trestleKerse, Tom, hired as driver for police dept.

Kerse, Tom , killed rabid dog , close up

Kerse, Tom, police parade,pg. 2, close upKerse, Tom, police parade, 1910, page 3, close upKerse, Tom, police parade, 1910, page 4, close up

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

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Evelyn, yacht of Thomas and James kerse

James H. Kerse, my great-grandfather, 1857-1921,  was born, raised and died in Richmond,Virginia. Not only that, but he served the city well as a police officer for over a quarter century! As the son of an Irish immigrant, I am told that James was definitely identified as an “Irish Cop”! He married his beloved wife, Mary Catherine Botto, herself the daughter of an Italian emigrant. We have a family story about a neighbor who walked by James ‘s house one day and lamented that his Irish friend had gone and “ruined his life” by marrying “that Italian woman”! LOL As I understand it, he loved that Italian woman with every ounce of his being,and she was the practical one, the business woman who allowed him his pleasures of boating, fishing, and hunting with her business savvy and entrepreneurship–she is another story. 

James however, as a sergeant with the Richmond City police force for many years, was apparently well thought of, well-respected, and seen as a down to earth, friendly man. He died in 1921, my mother was only three, so she did not know him. How do I know as much as I do about him? Besides family stories, I discovered something remarkable about the Richmond Times Dispatch –not only did it report news, but in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s , it functioned as our facebook of today! We can find amazing stories of the everyday occurences of our ancestors in the paper–in archives in State libraries, as well as on websites like Genealogybank.com where I got all of the articles cited in this blog post. 

One of the funniest stories I found about my great-grandfather told of a cow coming to vist him one Halloween night in 1913! This has to be one of the funniest pranks ever pulled by teens or friends on a Halloween night–look at this story! Notice the charm and wit as my grandfather handled this situation! No wonder he was a popular police officer! (click on the image to enlarge it for reading)

Kerse, James H. lost cow

As funny as this article is, i know my great-grandfather was well-respected because I found an article about his being wanted as the chief of police. This was published in the Richmond Times Dispatch on March 11, 1905:

 Although we know that he was not made the chief, the very proposal shows he was held in high esteem by his peers and superiors. 

I wanted to include one last story about my great grandfather James and his son Thomas–my mother’s father– my grandfather. This is the story of James and his son Thomas taking a party of individuals on a weekend excursion aboard ship on the Evelyn, a yacht first owned by James and handed down to Thomas his son. (Thomas later owned another yacht which he named the “Lady Jane”. Evelyn was his first-born daughter of six, Jane was his baby daughter.) It is a wonderful story on many fronts–it tells us about the historic Tangier Island off the coast of Virginia. However, of great interest to me was the fact that the trip took place in 1917–just as we were joining World War I. Notice how this pleasure cruise must deal with the military precautions and activities  in the Chesapeake Bay.  Stories like this bring this period in history right to our front door! 

There are actually several other stories tht I found–about James training his setters to fish as well as hunt!  Stories of him actually arresting people on the streets of Richmond, and keeping the peace! It is such a wonderful way to fill in some history–I feel I’ve gotten to know my great grandfather in ways I never expected, Here’s hoping you have the opportunity to find your own family stories!. Have a great day and ek, Helen

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

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My Uncle, my mother’s big brother, drowned when he was only 8 years old! The picture above is one of only two I have of him , and he looks much  younger than eight. His name was Thomas Philip Kerse, Jr. but they called him Bucky. 

My maternal grandfather, Bucky’s father, Thomas Philip Kerse, (pronounced Kearse) b.1884,   was the son of an Irish cop and an Italian businesswoman.  I understand he was passionate about life–as the Irish and Italians have a reputation for being!  His wife, Katherine Steptoe Houchins, born in 1883 in Patrick County,Virginia, was a nurse and the granddaughter of a “Virginia Langhorne”– a name associated with old money and old Virginia families.   Although he was a police officer, like his father and grandfather, she had the reputation as the stronger one, the steadier one. Together they had seven children–one boy and six girls. For my grandfather to lose his only son–any child of course–had to have been devastating!  My mother was only four years old when her brother drowned, but she talked about it all of her life, so I know it impacted her life experiences and perceptions immensely. We lived only a half mile from the James River, near where he drowned, but  Mom’s strictest rule was that we NEVER go to the river without adult supervision!

The drowning must have seemed even worse to my grandfather because he was a boatman –a Captain!  He was a police officer in Richmond,Virginia, but he also owned a yacht in which he took parties on excursions–and held events for charity. He raised his children on the water–making sure they were all good swimmers. We grew up listening to stories of the family’s adventures on-board their marvelous boat “The Lady Jane”. In fact, according to the newspaper articles above, Bucky drowned right in front of his family, but they had no idea the tragedy was going on as they were having fun at a social gathering! Can  you imagine how wracked with guilt they must have been–how haunted by all the  “If only…” and “I should have…” thoughts and questions?  The newspaper says my grandfather was was “prostrated”!  Their beloved son drowned–life can throw wretched things our way.

And what of the 14-year-old boy who was with him? He was a child himself, out for a day’s fun with a friend. My mother said he tried to keep Bucky above the water, but the hook that the sailors had thrown to tow them in, had caught Bucky’s clothes, capsized the little dinghy, and Bucky’s friend Henry was in danger of drowning himself! My mother never mentioned him by name, and I never knew his name until during my genealogical research, I looked up the incident in newspaper archives on genealogybank.com. So, I looked further–and sure enough, I could follow Henry’s life through the papers of Richmond,Virginia–he excelled at school, married, had children, and held many applauded volunteer leadership positions in Richmond,Virginia, where he died in 1963.  Did he always remember? Did he speak of it?

If we look at the  U. S. Censuses, as we genealogy folks are apt to do, we can find even more pieces of the story. We can clearly see that the two families are living across the street from each other when the boating accident occurs–the boys were neighbors and friends, but we can also see that by the 1930 census, they had both moved away–to different parts of town. New starts? bad memories–who knows?  

We also see a bit of other interesting information on the censuses. Henry’s father and mother were German–they had only come to America in recent years. The accident was in 1922– WWI, where we fought the Germans was just over in 1918– were there hard feelings among the ethnicities of the German, the Irish, and the Italians? I never thought of any of this until I started researching my family’s genealogy–perhaps if I had, I could have asked some questions.

After all is said and done, I’d like to think that my Uncle Bucky was his friend’s guardian angel perhaps–helping him move forward through his life, and that he watched over his parents and sisters as well. 

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Five Generations of Women, Daughters, Mothers, and Grandmothers

 Image          Its been 130 years since my grandmother was born.  Katherine Steptoe Houchins, called Kate, was born in the Southwestern area of Virginia, in Patrick County, a beautiful, mountainous area of  Virginia. She died in 1943, in the city of Richmond,Virginia. She may not have wanted for much in her early years, because her mother was Evalina Langhorne, daughter of James Steptoe Langhorne, a wealthy plantation owner and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro. However, Kate’s mother Evalina  was only 15 when she married, had seven children, then died in childbirth, along with the twins she was having in October, 1900. One of her other children had died at age 2, while the other six children  ranged in age from 3 to 17, with my Grandmother Kate being the oldest! They had lived with their Grandpa Steptoe as  he was called, but his house burned to the ground sometime shortly before her mother’s death. Her grandfather Steptoe was blind,and died in 1905, so he was unable to help a great deal with these children. Their own father, age  46 at the time of his wife’s death, left the state with another 15-year-old with whom he had two more children. So the six surviving children were farmed out to boarding schools, military schools, and other family members. On the 1910 census, I can find five of them, in school or in a relative’s home. However, as adults, I knew all five of my great aunts and uncles and they seemed very close for having been torn apart for ten to fifteen years. 

          Kate went to live with  Langhorne cousins in Richmond, Virginia, and attended  nursing school. Then she married Thomas Philip Kearse, (Kerse) and had seven children herself, one of whom was my mother, Margaret Steptoe Kearse Youngblood. Kate had a hard adult life I believe.  After losing her mother at age 17, her beloved grandfather shortly thereafter, and losing the home in which she’d lived,  her sense of security must have been battered. Then her only son of seven children drowned! Her husband had a yacht, with which he captained tour groups and parties up and down the James River and across the Chesapeake Bay to Maryland  and the Eastern Shore.   The children all learned to swim and spent many happy occasions on the boat always with friends and family. However, one day in October, 1922, 7 yr. old Thomas Philip Kearse Jr. , called Bucky, was out in a dingy with a 16-year-old boy. A big ship came by and the huge wake caused the boys to capsize! The sixteen year old tried in vain to save his little friend, the big ship even turned around and tried to help, to no avail. It was a few days before they found his body! Young when her mother dies, house burns down, father leaves the family, child dies, what else ? It’s hard to believe, but this wonderful woman, a nurse by profession and by all reports a superb one, met tragedy at the hands of a patient. She was caring for a comatose private duty patient. She had bathed him and went to empty the water, as my mother told the story. When she returned to the room, he yelled out for her to get away and called her by the name of some of our military adversaries in  WWI. He was delirious, but afraid. Unfortunately, there was either a rifle hanging on the wall that was still loaded, or a gun in a table drawer beside the bed. I have heard both versions of the story, no one knew any weapon there was loaded. In his delirious state he shot my grandmother in the head! Within a couple of hours, he was dead of his own illness, just that last semiconscious rousing  turned her whole world upside down and that of her children and husband also! She was shot on January 28, 1930, but not killed. The bullet apparently split in half, half traveling down her neck,and half lodging in her brain, inoperable. She lived,but was unable to talk and walk well for the rest of her life–and she had six children! By then her husband worked for the police department as did his father and grandfather! But they always had the boat! Their stories of adventure were endless! 

In honor of Mother’s Day 2013, I want to write more about these six women/girls in my familly.I would love to hear about your Mom or grandmom, especially unique things about them. Enjoy your Mother’s Day! 

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