Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

2015–A Brand New Year–and Lots of New Blogging Ideas!

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A new year always seems kind of like a blank slate to me–exciting, challenging–just waiting to be written upon! I am so happy that I love to write. It is something I’ve enjoyed all my life–literally, since I was a young girl. I still own the little desk that was my mother’s when she was a child, and then mine when I was a child. It is a small, cherry, slant top desk that fit perfectly in the dormer window space in the bedroom I shared with my sister. It fit right under the window, and allowed me a bird’s-eye view of the trees and the sky. I loved it! I did as much daydreaming there as I  did writing. I hope to give my desk to one of my grandchildren soon. Mom was born in 1918 and used that desk as a child– using it mostly in the 1920’s.   I used it in the 1950’s the most.  Now it’s 2015. If her family owned it before, it’s already 100 years old, even if it was bought new for Mom (I doubt it, she was one of seven children), it’s likely to be 95 years old from what she said about when she used it! Wow!  It’s a symbol for me. A symbol of my love of writing, I have a picture of it etched sharply in my brain! 

My enjoyment of writing has been a godsend as well, because as many of you know, I am disabled with severe heart disease. I used to work as a psychologist, master’s level, taught seminars, volunteered  for PTA, church, Women’s Center, etc. I was only 50 when the disease took me right out of my life as I knew it! So after a long struggle to function and to find a new identity, I am finally living again. I am writing, although I have not quite given myself the label “writer” yet…maybe soon! LOL  I am a gardener–using my wheelchair and adapting normal tasks–by that I mean crawling around on the ground and playing in the dirt to raise beautiful flowers! I am a red hatter which is a woman over 50 who has learned to PLAY again! And most of all, most FUN of all, I am a grandmother! My three little munchkins, aged 1, 3, and 7 keep us highly entertained! My daughters and husband are golden to me, allowing me to grow as I choose.  I am 65, soon to be 66! My doctors said I might not live past 55! What a gift! Life! Now to see what I can do with it! LOL

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Writing in 2014 was an amazing adventure! I was so thrilled to enter and complete the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge! I have been enjoying researching my family tree for about three or four years I think, so I had lots of colorful ancestors to write about!   Now I have 52 stories, and more I want to write! For instance I want to find out more about the Jamestown and Mayflower ancestors. I am writing these stories for family, for my legacy to some degree.  But I love having other researchers  comment and become involved with me.  I love to share, and I love to learn from you, and brainstorm with you! .  Thank you for your interactions this past year!   I’m hoping both my current cousins and siblings and my future grandchildren will know more about their roots than I ever knew before this work! It makes history come alive!  That was my grandparent sailing in that little boat for all those weeks to come to Jamestown, Virginia!  Wow–I never knew! I want to organize them and decide  if the blog is enough of a presentation, or if I want to  perhaps organize some into a book for children or perhaps a coffee table book for some. Who knows. I’m very open to suggestions if you’d like to pass some along! 

I’m going to start my blogging year with a series which will explore some mysteries that I have noticed as I have developed my family tree. That will start in the next day or two, so you’ll soon know what I’m talking about! 

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Some of you know, but not all, that perhaps my greatest accomplishment last year, along with starting the genealogical focus of my  blog, was that I wrote a rough draft of a novel!  LOL Yes I did–I wrote a novel during the month of November!  I had heard about NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month for years.  This was the year! The novel is in its beginning stages, has to be severely edited, shaped and shined! LOL It is a story “inspired by” a true story of a very dysfunctional family–a story of secrets, abuse and love gone very wrong! I haven’t the faintest idea how to get it published, or to self publish it, or what…but I have friends who are experienced in this field, so I am hoping for lots of good advice! I am a long way from those decisions anyway. I haven’t even looked at the story since November 30! Now its time to pull it out and get to work! Scary, exciting, challenging….so many emotions tied up in that work! I actually have published a few things over the years.  A chapter in a book about heart disease, an article about interpersonal communication, an article about family in a historical society journal, a newspaper article or two. We’ll see.  The year seems in focus to me, but what comes to mind…the old saying…”Want to hear God laugh? Make your own plans!” LOL We will see what life brings, I will enjoy what I am given!

Wishing you all the best  year you can possibly have in 2015!  Thanks again for joining me, it makes the journey so much more fun! Helen

 

 

 

 

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Youngblood, James C. 1841-1897, My Great Grand Uncle Is Found! –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #43

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James C Youngblood has been missing ! (Only from my family tree!) I didn’t have him in the list of children born to Jacob and Mariah Charlotte Cooper Youngblood, and now that I have added him, I have only found him in one other family tree in Ancestry.com, which tells us he is not well-known!  Of course, this makes me wonder how many other “children” I might have left out of the large families popular in days gone by! I hate to think of it! My own husband’s great, great-grandfather was left out of  the line of Holshouser children born to his family, and his whole line of Holshousers were not invited to the extended Holshouser reunion for 25+ years, until a wise genealogist “discovered” his line! It can make a huge difference! Because of this personal experience, I have generally tried to be very careful to pick up all the children in a family, and to try to get them in the correct order. It is not easy, and not always possible! Censuses, wills, all help, but they are not panaceas! 

John H. Youngblood, born in Germany in 1780, my third great-grandfather, was our first American immigrant in this family line. He came over and settled in New Jersey, in the town of Frelinghuysen, Warren County.  He married Mary whose maiden name is unknown. We have not been able to trace his parents or his town of origin either. I have them as having only two children, which is very unusual those days. Their children were Jacob Youngblood, 1807-1887, and Elizabeth Youngblood, b. 1810. Elizabeth married one John Case and together they had eleven children. Jacob Youngblood, her brother, from whom I descend, married Mariah Charlotte Cooper and they had six children it now seems. Their six children included:  

We have a Youngblood family group on facebook where we share pictures and discuss all kinds of things including dna and genealogy. It is helping us get to know cousins far and wide. Almost everyone in our group at this point, is a descendant of Lewis Jacob Youngblood above. Recently, I found the gravestone of Jacob Youngblood and his wife Mariah on Billion Graves.  I could plainly see that there were two other names on the stone, and planned to figure out what it said, and who they were, but I was so excited, I went ahead and placed the picture on Facebook in our family group! It was then that my eagle-eyed cousin, Kay Youngblood Fuller, immediately called my attention to it, asking “Just who is that James C. Youngblood whose name is on the stone? ”  I was like, ” Hmm…I don’t know! ” I had assumed it was a child of his, but when I checked his family, there was no James C!  The interesting thing is, Kay Youngblood Fuller’s  father was James Cooper Youngblood b. 1917. and her grandfather was James Cooper Youngblood, b. 1875!! They were both children of Lewis Jacob Youngblood b. 1846–the brother of this James C. Youngblood. Yet, James C. Youngblood was the son of Mariah C. Cooper, where the name came from, did he not have children? We know he married, because his wife is buried with him, it says so on the stone. In fact, it says Jacob died in 1887, his wife Mariah Cooper in 1869, James C. in 1897, and his wife Mary Frances Lawrence in 1908. James C. was 56 years old when he died, yet, he and Mary had one child born in 1880 I believe, named Frank! 

James C. Youngblood ended up being an interesting person to get to know. Part of that is because I was with my cousin Kay Youngblood Fuller, and we researched him together! On his US Civil War Draft Registration Records, available on ancestry.com, we find James C. listed as a “law student” at age 22 in 1863.  According to the U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, James C. Youngblood enlisted in Company E, New Jersey 1st Infantry Regiment on 27 June, 1863. It says he mustered out on 24 July 1863, at Trenton, NJ. This is available on Ancestry.com, provided by the register of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War, 1861-1865. One Month! Only one month? Good job if you can get it! I’ll have to see if I can find out more about this in further research. 

On the 1880 Census, James C. is listed as a lawyer,  is living with his wife Mary Frances Lawrence, at 356 Madison Street, Morris, New Jersey,  and they have  a 3 month old son named Frank!  Also living with them is his mother-in-law Hannah Lawrence,  his own sister Hattie Youngblood, age 21, and a cook named Rosa McDonald. I assumed Frank was the child of Mary Frances Lawrence and James C. Youngblood, but look beside his name on this census. It looks to me like it sas “McD son”–is he the son of James C. Youngblood and his cook, Rose McDonald? ! I did try tracking Rose McDonald, and on the 1920 census she has a son named Frank McDonald. However, our Frank has married, divorced  and moved to Michigan by 1920. 

Youngblood, James C. 1880 census

 Of course, all the 1890 censuses burned, and James C. died in 1897, so what happened to Frank? We find Frank alive and well, living with Mary Lawrence  at the age of 20 on the 1900 census!  In 1910, we find Frank in Philadelphia, working as a mechanical engineer, and living as a boarder with the Westbrook family, by then his Margaret Lawrence  had also died. 

I did find a passport for Frank. Here we learn that his full name is  Francis (Frank) James Youngblood. Apparently  named for both his mother and his father. He was born March 14, 1880, in NJ, and has Hazel eyes, an oval face, and dark brown hair.  He is living in Boston at this time, 1909, and he is 29 years old!

Youngblood, Frank, passport

 

 In 1918, we find a  Draft Registration Card for WWI in the US for one Frank J. Youngblood. His nearest relative is listed as Lina May Youngblood. (Thanks to Aquilla and Cathy Meder Dempsey for their help deciphering this.)  They are living in Philadelphia.  I found  later records , one listing a Francis J. Youngblood married to a Lina May in 1920. Another lists a Frank J. Youngblood with a sister named Lina May! Amazing! I have come to believe that this Registration Card is not even for our Frank! By 1920 he was divorced from Lillian May (very close!) but living in Wayne Michigan! Its so confusing! This is when you have to remember that all research is a process, as you gather and sort information. I would have just left this out entirely, but in my first post, before I corrected it, I had asked for help,a nd I appreciate those who responded, greatly! We shall see where all this leads. 

Youngblood, Frank, Draft Registration Card for WW1

 On the 1920 census, we find Frank working as the automotive mechanical engineer he is, in an automobile factory in Michigan! But how sad, he is divorced! A bit more research comes up with a marriage certificate to one Lillian May Shallow in 1910, with a divorce from her in 1912. As far as I can tell, they did not have children. On the 1930 census Frank still lives in a hotel in Wayne, Michigan, alone, and still works as an automotive, mechanical engineer.   James died in 1934, at the age of 54, in Essex, Ontario, Canada. It appears he had traveled there on business and had only been in the country 4 days according to his death certificate. A friend was the informant, and did get his father correct, his place and year of birth and other things. He died of tuberculosis, which it says he’d had for 3  years! I am shocked that he was allowed to continue working, and to travel between the US and Canada! How sad to have the line end this way. Obviously Frank and his Father James C. were intelligent and talented, one a lawyer, and one a mechanical engineer. It’s sad that he did not have children for us to get to know! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Mirror from Revaro family in Italy

“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall…tell me your stories, tell them all!”  (by Helen Y. Holshouser with prompting by sister Anne) This beautiful mirror hangs in my sister’s home today in 2014.  It has been in our family for  almost 200 years, maybe more. It belonged to my second great-grandmother, Catherina Revaro, born about 1825. I do not know where Catherina got the mirror, or how long it might have been in her family, but we are told it is a family piece from Genoa, Italy where she was born.  We have an oral history story passed down in our family about Catharina.  Mother always said that Catherina, called Catherine in our family, was the daughter of a wealthy family in Genoa, Italy. They had a large department store there and in Rome perhaps. Catharina was a student in a private girls school, located  in a convent. However, she had fallen in love with a boy named Luigi Botto!  They supposedly left Italy together, coming ultimately to Richmond, Virginia where they married and had two children, James Lewis Botto 1857-1923, and Mary Catherine Botto, 1858- 1906, who married James Kerse and became my great-grandmother.  Catherine married a second time to Nicholas Raffo in 1866, and had another son named John Francis Raffo, 1867-1951.

I have always loved all things Italian, perhaps this line of relatives explains that trait or propensity! In fact, it was pursuit of knowledge of this, my Italian heritage which originally got me started in genealogical research! I quickly learned that they were not easy to research, because a lot of the records were written in Italian and/or Latin! However, after many years of working on this effort, and help from other researchers, I have put together this picture of the Italian branch of our family. 

My first effort was to prove just how my great grandparents came into the country! My first find was a family of Bottos (I did not have her maiden name Revaro at the time.) who arrived on July 18,1844, on the ship Constantine in the port of New York from Genoa, Italy! I was so excited! On board you can clearly see the family with Joseph Botto, 38, Marie, 36, Luigi 12, Catharina 14, Benedict 10, Maria 8 and Giacomino! Wow, what a family! Luigi at 12, matched the 1832 birthdate I had. But weren’t they very young to be marrying? And the whole family was with them! Hmm, didn’t quite jive. But it was all I could find, in this my first week of ever doing genealogical research! I still thought this must be my family. Maybe this was Luigi, and Catherine was elsewhere, or maybe the other way around. Or maybe they were already married, a shotgun wedding?! LOL Obviously, I needed more information. This is the Constantine’s passenger list for you to see:  

Botto family on ship Constatine, July, 1844

source: ancestry.com

 

I decided the family above could not be my Bottos, when I followed them to Kentucky, then when I actually met on ancestry some of their descendants, living in Boston, Massachusetts, I learned  this was their family, not mine!  Back to the drawing board, I found many Louis Bottos,  and few Catherines. But finally, I found this document, and I believe it fits better than most, the ship’s passenger list includes both a Luigi Botto age 26 and a Catharine Botto age 20, on board the ship Switzerland, arriving in 1855! That would be perfect timing for them  to get to Richmond,Virginia and have two children in 1857 and 1858!  However, if the marriage certificate below is correct for them, they should have been in Richmond by 1853! Oh dear, this is the way genealogical research works, just search, and search, and eliminate and search some more! 

Botto ,ship passenger list with Luigi and Catherine

source: ancestry.com

source infomation for passenger list for Luigi and Catheribotto

source: ancestry.com

 

Keeping this, I went on to research more and see what I could find.  I knew that Catherine had married a second time because she had a son named John Francis Raffo that I could see on the censuses. So I searched for both Raffo and Botto information. Finally i found a marriage certificate on ancestry.com for Nicholas Raffo and Catharine Botto also Catharine Revaro, father Anton Revaro! There was her maiden name! Alleluia!  

Name: Catharine Botto
[Catharine Revaro] 
Gender: Female
Age: 43
Birth Date: 1823
Marriage Date: 7 May 1866
Marriage Place: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Father: Anton Revaro
Spouse: Nicholas Raffo
FHL Film Number: 33620
Reference ID: p 90

 

It wasn’t long before I decided to take my DNA through ancestry.com, which showed I was 5% Italian in my ethnic makeup. Cool! That combined with knowing Catherine’s maiden name, helped me learn much more about my family, including meeting  cousins and other people researching them! One of those folks was a researcher who spoke Italian and Latin and researched original records even from the Vatican! I was very impressed! Diane ended up finding the birth certificate of  my great, great grandparents, Louis Botto and Catherine Revaro. On the certificate you will notice that her name had been anglicized to Rivers, and his was written as Botte, typo or a name change, I am not sure. I already had the date of the Raffo marriage from censuses, and the date on the Botte marriage certificate agrees. However, the Botto name appears on censuses and many other records. the ages and dates of birth don’t match for Catherine, but this doesn’t overly worry me as I find this often the case.  This gave me his parents names as well! My Italian roots were growing! 

Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 about Catharine Rivers

Name: Catharine Rivers
Gender: Female
Age: 22
Birth Date: 1831
Birth Place: Italy
Marriage Date: 3 Sep 1853
Marriage Place: Richmond, Virginia
Father: Andrew Rivers
Mother: Mary
Spouse: Louis Botte
FHL Film Number: 31855
Reference ID: p 1 # 39

 

So, we have Catherine Revaro coming to Virginia from Italy and marrying Lewis Botto in 1853,  naming their children James Lewis and Mary Catherine Botto.  In 1866, Catherine married for the second time. I have not been able to ascertain what happened to her first husband, however,  no death notice, find-a-grave document, no military record that I can find! There are other Louis Bottos in the United States as well.  In the Richmond City telephone directory of 1876, Catherine is listed as Catherine Botto, widow of Louis Botto! In 1876, she was a widow all right, but the widow of Nicholas Raffo who had died in 1873! Catherine ‘s first husband must have died, besides being listed as a widow in the phone directory, when Catherine herself dies in 1903, we can find an obituary in the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper that states that a “solemn requiem mass” was said at her funeral at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the church where the family attended for years. She would not have been thus honored if she had divorced. The Catholic Church would not have allowed it. 

 

Obituary

Mrs. Catharine Raffo

Mrs. Catharine Raffo, mother of Mr. James L. Botto and Mr. John F. Raffo, of the fire department, and Mrs. Mary C. Kerse, wife of Sergeant James H. Kerse, of the First Police Station, died Saturday morning.  Her funeral will take place Monday morning at 10 o’clock from St. Patrick’s church. The interment will be in Mt. Calvary.

The following gentlemen will act as pall-bearers:

Honorary-Richard M. Taylor,

H.M. Smith, Junior

Dr. David Coleman

Dr. W. H. Scott

John Frischkorn

John Mann Jr.

Joseph H. Webb

Edgar Shine

Active:

F.J. Purrater,   Anthony Griffith,

Claiborne Epps,  Andrew Donald,

Frank Overman,  Peter Gonella,

Captain W.B. Whitlock,

James Burke

Raffo died April 25, 1903, at the residence of her son-in-law, James H. Kerse.  2612   East Grace St.

MRS. CATHARINE RAFFO

The funeral will take place Monday morning, April 27th,  at 10 o’clock, from St. Patrick’s Church with a requiem mass.

Friends invited to attend Interment Mt. Calvary.

Washington and New York papers please copy.

 –published in the Richmond Times Dispatch, April 26, 1903

_________________________________________________________________

 

 

Catherine Botto Raffo's funeral announcement, Apr. 28, 1903, The Richmond Times Dispatch

–published in the Richmond Times Dispatch, 1903 

 

Five years after her death, her granddaughter Marie Botto Kerse, my Great Aunt, wrote this tribute to Catherine which was published in the Richmond Times Dispatch as well, in 1908:

In Memoriam

In sad but loving remembrance

of my devoted Grandmother,

Catherine Botto Raffo

who died five years ago. 

April 25, 1903.

Every year the good God calleth

some loved one to endless rest,

and our hearts, though filled with anguish, 

can but cry, “He knoweth best.”

But a year and distant cometh,

when we tread the vast unknown, 

we shall find our ransomed loved ones,

seated ’round the great white throne.

Marie B. Kerse–genealogybank.com, Richmond Times Dispatch

“Loving remembrance of my devoted Grandmother”! Those words say a lot about Catherine Botto Raffo! How interesting. I’ve been thinking of her children. James Lewis was born in 1857, his sister Mary Catherine in 1858, they were only 9 and 8 years old when their mother remarried. Had they known their Dad at all? Then their stepfather dies when they are 15 and 16! After her marriage in 1866 to her second husband Nicholas Raffo, her son John Francis Raffo is born in 1867. His father dies in 1873–at six, he probably only had hazy  memories of his father. Those are rough  events in young lives. The Civil War was waged during their childhoods, Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy! What must they have seen and heard! 

Yet, we know that John Francis Raffo grew up to become a firefighter, then chief of the Richmond City Fire Department, spanning a fifty year career with them!  One of John Francis’ great, great-grandchildren sent this picture to me, which I treasure. Yes, his descendants are alive and well and going strong.  I am regularly in touch with one of them on facebook, and another I have met in person. (more of that at a later time) Among them are soldiers, a priest, and many other s including genealogists. This is a line of descendants any mother would be so proud to call her own! 

Raffo family

left to right in this photo of the Raffo family taken on their front porch in the Churchill area of Richmond, Virginia: 1. John Francis Raffo, Jr. (Jack) 2. Nicholas Coleman Raffo 3. Frank McLaughlin Raffo 4. John Francis Raffo 5. Mary Margaret Finnegan Raffo (Minnie) 6. Anita Raffo 7. Catherine Raffo Beaty 8. James Coleman Raffo 9. Anna Raffo Eagle 10. Mary Margaret Raffo (Minnie) abt. 1918 Churchill, Richmond, Virginia, USA, given to this author by Coleman Raffo, 2014

Catherine’s daughter Mary Catherine Botto married James Kerse and became the mother of my grandfather Thomas Philip Kerse.  She had four children in fact,  but two of them died young, Andrew Leo in infancy and  Kate, the twin of Marie, died at age 17 of a burst appendix.  In fact, because Kate died of a burst appendix,  when her brother Thomas Philip came down with appendicitis in his early twenties, the family hired a private duty nurse to take care of him. That nurse turned out to be Katherine Steptoe Kerse,  who married Thomas Philip and became my cherished grandmother! They went on to have seven children, twelve grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and so far, 4 great- great- grandchildren!  We have several college professors, lawyers,  building contractors, teachers, and firefighters! Catherine can be proud of this line of her daughter’s.

Now James Lewis Botto was very different from his sister and half-brother it seems. He was a local politician, and owned a night club in downtown Richmond called  St. Helena’s.  He was married with six children, four sons and two daughters. Both daughters married men of excellent standing from great families in Richmond. The father and two of his sons went to jail. The father, James Lewis,  for only 3 months for bringing illegal liquor into the state to sell at his club during prohibition! A rum runner in the family! The other son, William Joseph Botto, a policeman forced to resign, went to jail only 30 days on this same charge, but then he was charged with domestic violence in 1914, assaulting his wife!  He left his wife and disappeared. She had him declared dead after several years! In 1930, he disclosed who he truly was, just  before he actually died in a hospital in New York! It is hard for me to believe this happened in my own family! Another son,  John Francis Botto went to the penitentiary for 15 years for attacking a 13-year-old girl! Good gracious–what happened in this line of family?! As bad as this seems, we must remember that four of the six children in this family turned out to be excellent citizens, it is not right to judge them poorly  on the merits of their father and two brothers! However, it is curious, just how is it that some siblings make such bad choices with their Dad, and most make great choices. The heirs of this family were all female, so the Botto name from James Lewis’s line died out, there are descendants, just not with the Botto name. Since he was the only male heir of Luigi Botto, his line of Bottos did not continue. 

I knew we had Italian ancestors, my mother talked about it a lot. But I did not know they were alive and that I could have gotten to know them while growing up!  What a shame to miss knowing family until you are in your sixties! I have a clue as to why this might have happened .  Catherine Botto Raffo died in 1903, having outlived both husbands by many years. We were told that Catherine was an excellent money manager, and indeed, when she died several things were published in the Richmond Times Dispatch giving us a glimpse into her business acumen. As a successful business woman, she had amassed  a fair amount of property. I don’t know how she left it, or if she even had a will, but according to the paper, in 1907, John Francis Raffo sued his half-brother James Lewis Botto et al (did that include my great-grandmother Mary Catherine Botto Kerse? Probably.)  I don’t think that is all that unusual however, heirs who inherit equally–one or more want to keep the property, others want their money for their share perhaps. Whatever the situation,  John Francis Raffo sued and the court ordered that the lots in downtown Richmond be sold, and the money divided.  I imagine that caused great division within the family. Perhaps the Raffos and Bottos no longer spoke, how sad. What would Catherine think? Would she focus on the positive, the many descendants who’ve done well, been responsible and active citizens. Or would she just be devastated about her one son’s family and the  two of his sons who got in so much trouble! What an interesting family, wish I knew more, perhaps I will learn more one day.  Finding interesting stories like these, and meeting living cousins, discovering lines of relatives you didn’t even know existed, that’s what makes genealogical research so exciting!  

Che cosa hai intenzione di fare sulla famiglia ? Loro amore ! What are you going to do about family? Love them! --Helen Y. Holshouser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This gallery contains 12 photos


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Spangler, Mary Josephine-Poet in the Shadows of Her Famous Husband and Brothers—52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, #32

MOD, lover's LeapMary Josephine Spangler lived from the 14th of September, 1887- until the 7th of March, 1970. I would have been 21 the week after she died. Plenty old enough to have taken the chance to know her and some of my first cousins, 2x removed who lived in the mountains of Virginia, while I lived in Richmond, Va. –but I did not know of them! How sad! These were the children of my great grandmother’s children! She had died in 1900, they came along about 1882- 1892,  my grandmother’s first cousins. My grandmother, who knew them, died before I was born in 1949. Home from the war, four children and a mother to care for, my Dad was busy keeping up with his own 3 sibling’s families and my Mom worked full time (unusual for women of the 1950’s) and was busy keeping up with her five sisters and all of our cousins there! We had a full life, so we didn’t realize what we were missing! Fast forward 65 years, and here we have our first joint family reunion, with two families of my great-grandmother, descendants of two sisters: Fannie and Evelyn Langhorne. How exciting! We discovered a lot to love about each other, a lot we had in common, and some differences. We left the reunion, wanting more!

Fannie and Evelyn were two of nine children of James Steptoe Langhorne and Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro. Evelyn married Walter Thomas Houchins and had nine children of her own, with three dying in childbirth or early childhood. Fannie married Wallace Wolford Spangler and had six children with him. There were lots of cousins in our huge family!

Spanglers and Vippermans, 1915, may 16.

With stars in the family like the Spangler musicians– John Watts Spangler called “Babe” and dubbed the “Old Virginia Fiddler”; Dudley Spangler, also a recording star fiddler called “Babe”; Charles Langhorne, Tump, a fiddler and a state legislator—it’s easy to see, why a quieter, female, sister, Mary Josephine Spangler, who was a poet, might get little attention! After all, she was busy raising four children of her own, while her well-known husband Dudley played and sang for the masses! At our Langhorne family reunion, I had the absolute joy to see and get to know three of her children!  They are Margie Spangler Cartwright-92, William Wallace Spangler, 91, and Bernice Spangler Irvin, 84. They are all full of enthusiasm, knowledge, and generosity! They brought recordings of their Dad and Uncle Babe singing and playing for us to hear, which was wonderful! But they brought a special treat as well. They brought poetry with them, poetry that their mother had written and poetry that Margie had written and made into a song! I hope to share that with you in another post.

This is a poem by their mother, Mary Josephine. It is called simply, “Mayberry Virginia”. There is a true community nearby called Mayberry, where life was very simple in the early days. It is in fact, where Andy Griffith first visited and got his idea for the name Mayberry for the small town of his television show.  In this way, and in others, this poem is a marker of history, and shows that Mary Josephine was paying close attention to current events when she wrote it in the 1930’s. You see, the poem is also about the coming of the Blue Ridge Parkway to that area of Virginia. President Roosevelt and Congress approved the building of the Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina to provide a scenic trail for sure, but also to put hundreds, even thousands to work as the country was recovering from the depression. Work in Virginia started in 1936. The very end of the poem refers to an electric dam, and to Danville. One of our Langhorne cousins, Lucy Lea Rudd, shared with me that the Dams her Aunt Josie was speaking of are on the Dan River and were built in the 1930’s. They are in a canyon that runs from Vesta, south of Meadows of Dan, and Mayberry. Lucy said  that her father worked on them, which is why she knew they were built in the ’30’s.  How’s that for a bit of eye- witness history! Thank you Lucy Rudd! T he dams are owned by the city of Danville according to Lucy, and people have to have permission to go down to them. Mary Josephine knew all of this, and put it in  a poem! Well done my cousin!

 

“Mayberry Virginia” ©

 by Mary Josephine Spangler, in the second part of the 1930’s,

 

National-Park-Guide-NCs-Blue-Ridge-Parkway-PH1RIU63-x-large

National-Park-Guide-NCs-Blue-Ridge-Parkway-PH1RIU63, ravel.usatoday.com/destinations/story/2012-07-12/National-Park-Guide-North-Carolinas-Blue-Ridge-Parkway/56155918/1

Three cheers for Mayberry Virginia,            

With roads of every kind,

Some go to the east; some go to the west,

And some ore the mountains wind.

 

The scenic highway’s coming,

Room for every soul,

We will not have to push or pull,

Just let the car wheels roll.

 

Blue_Ridge_Parkway, commons.wikimedia.org

Blue_Ridge_Parkway, commons.wikimedia.org

Our cattle will soon by traveling,              

Thru tunnels under ground.

The old jersey cow with the bell on,

Won’t even make a sound.

 

Crossroads will be bridged,            

Up toward the sky so far,

That when the planes fly over,

They’ll wonder what they are.

 

Then when our children start to school,

Underground or overhead,

None at the crossroads,

Will be found hurt or dead.

 

Graves now dot the hilltops,

But there will be no new ones then.

We all will live, I am quite sure,

Three score years and ten.

 

This road will take you to the mill,

That’s just around the bend.

Where buckwheat, corn, and wheat are ground,

Which ere you choose to send.

 

And when the northern tourists come,

That is seeking to get fatter,

We’ll stuff them up on buckwheat cakes,

And let them drink some batter.

 

Cold water is always flowing,

From mountain, hill, or lowland,

So when Miami tourists drink,

They’ll say, “Oh my, ‘tis grand!”

 

The Appalachian Trail comes by,

From Maine, to way down South,

But these tourists rarely stop to drink, no matter rain or drought.

 

Danville will hard surface,

Five miles, it is no sham.

500 men will hit this trail,

And build an electric dam.

 

 


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Charles Langhorne Spangler, Congressman, Revenuer and Moonshine Still Hunter! –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #30

 

Spangler, Tump,Charles Langhorne

Offical state photograph taken of Mr. Spangler in the early 1930’s when he served in The Virginia General Assembly.from The Mountain Laurel as cited below.

Charles Langhorne Spangler, called “Tump” was one of six children born of Wallace Wolford Spangler and his second wife Frances (Fannie) Eunice Langhorne. Tump had a half-brother, Harry Hannibal Spangler born 1877 to Wallace Wolford Spangler and first wife Catharine (Katie) Ellen Spangler. Wallace and Fannie’s children were:

 John Watts, “Babe ” Spangler (1882-1970)

 Charles Langhorne “Tump ” Spangler (1885-1983)

 Mary Josephine Spangler (1887-1970)

 Lila Ann Spangler (1889-1973)

 Elizabeth Lucretia Spangler (1892-)

 Virginia Empress Spangler (1894-1933)

 

As a young man, Tump married first, Susan Bertha Shelor, 1885-1909 who unfortunately died in childbirth. Secondly, he married Kittie Clyde Cockram and they had seven amazing children!

 Samuel Maurice Spangler 1916 – 1997

 Leila Evelyn Spangler 1918 – 2002

 Thomas W Spangler 1920 – 1991

 Benjamin Leslie Spangler1923 – 1996

 Harvie Langhorne Spangler 1928 – living

 Charles Bishop Spangler 1932 – 2011

 Daniel Patrick Spangler PhD 1934 – living

Spangler brothers Pat in red cap and Harvie  enjoy a private moment

Pat, left, and Harvie Spangler , brothers.

Two sons, Harvie and Pat (Daniel Patrick) are outstanding men in their own right, as were their siblings, and I will write more about them at a later date.  When you meet the grandchildren, of whom there are many, you can have no doubt about the upstanding character of their parents and Charles and how he passed on those strong character traits.

Among other things, Tump served as a Deputy Collector for the U.S. Internal Revenue (he was a revenuer!) In that capacity he spent many lonely days searching out and destroying moon-shine stills in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in and around Patrick County. Charles is quoted in a family heirloom as writing, “My daily diary shows some 400 miles per month, for 4 years—1917-1921.” It just so happens, Charles had a first cousin who left those ole hills in a hurry one year. Later, another cousin, Mary Stuart Houchins, who became quite famous as a soap actress on the TV show “Search for Tomorrow”, wrote in her memoirs, that she had one cousin who was a revenuer, and one who shot a revenuer! Oh my gracious! I’ll have to ask Harvie and Pat if their Dad was ever shot!

Charles is probably best remembered for being elected to serve 5 terms in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was remembered in a tribute article in The Mountain Laurel now available online at http://www.mtnlaurel.com/. John H. Yeats wrote in 1989 that “the fact that he served with so much dedication, integrity and humility, set him apart from many of his legislative associates, and endeared him to many people.”

Spangler, Shelor home,cropped picture

Former home of Charles Langghorne Spangler, Virginia Legislator, and his wife, Kitty Clyde Cockram Langhorne

Tump Spangler, his wife Kitty Cockram, and their seven children grew up on a beautiful mountainous homestead that is still the home of one of his grandchildren. Once part of a 13,000 acre plantation owned in the Meadows of Dan by his grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne, that land has belonged in the family for 200 years at least.

DSCF7252

Tump Spangler on the fiddle!

A statesman and a revenuer, Tump was also a musician, like all the Spanglers! In his younger days he won many a fiddler convention we are told, although it was his brother John Watts, “Babe” Spangler who became the famous “Old Virginia Fiddler” on the radio in Richmond, Virginia for 30 years! His sister’s husband and his first cousin, Dudley Spangler was another incredible fiddler along with first cousin Harry Houchins on the banjo, all members of this talented Spangler/Langhorne family!

Tump was my first cousin, 2x removed!  What a treat to see his family at our reunion coming up immediately! You will hear all about it I’m sure! With best wishes for your days, Helen

MOD, lover's Leap

View from “lover’s Leap” in Patrick county, NC, very close to the home of Charles Langhorne Spangler and also formerly part of his Grandfather’s plantation.

 

Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler (1885 – 1983)
is your 1st cousin 2x removed
mother of Charles Langhorne “Tump” Spangler
father of Frances (Fannie) Eunice (blind) Langhorne
daughter of James Steptoe (blind) Langhorne
daughter of Evaline (going blind when died young)) Langhorne
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse –


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CHALLENGES!– 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge –and the Zero to Hero Challenge!

 

 Dare

I never knew I was a person who responded to challenges so strongly! LOL I’m trying to remember if, when I was a child, one of my friends would say “I betcha won’t do this Helen!” –well, would I, did I? If my memory serves me well, I have to admit that I did dare very easily, and now I haven’t changed much apparently!

I joined two challenges just a week ago to improve my blog and my understanding of the word press community.  The Zero to Hero Challenge gives us a daily assignment that varies between tasks like putting new widgets in our blogs, to reading and commenting on other blogs! That brings me to today’s blog post, one I hope will satisfy my Zero to Hero Challenge. We were assigned yesterday, on “DAY 11: BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR — LEAVE COMMENTS ON THREE NEW BLOGS

The best thing you can do to connect with others and build a community around your site is to, well, engage. You’ve already been following topics and blogs, and chatting with other Zero to Hero participants — let’s take that up a notch.

Today’s assignment: leave comments on at least three blogs that you’ve never commented on before.”

 

  In completing that assignment, I discovered a blog written by Amy Johnson Crow on genealogy. Amy was issuing another  challenge:  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  in her blog, “No Story Too Small”.  http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/posts/52-ancestors-challenge-week-1-recap/

The title of her blog resonated with my desire to tell the stories of the ancestors, cousins, and descendants in my own family tree! I love the family tree work I have done, but even more, I love the stories! I love feeling like I am getting to know my family! Joining her challenge encourages me to do what I love. Not only will I be blogging more consistently this year, I hope, but look at all the kindred spirits I have the opportunity to get to know—a whole new community! Thank you for thinking of this challenge Amy Johnson Crow, and thank you for administering it! The huge response you got shows how hungry we all are to connect with our families, our history and each other I believe! I am very excited to participate!

Now, while all of the above is true, I want you to know, that it also fulfills the challenge assigned us for Day 12 of our “Zero to Hero Challenge”! The assignment read “DAY 12: FROM COMMENT TO BLOG POST — BE INSPIRED BY THE COMMUNITY

Yesterday, you left comments on three different blogs. (Or more, if you found more great posts that made you think or pushed you to respond, you overacheiver, you.) Lots of you shared the blogs you found in posts or in yesterday’s forum thread. We also advised you to remember where you left your comments — you’ll need one of those comments today.:

Today’s assignment: write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!”

 So this assignment I did for today, but more importantly I did for the year–I joined her challenge to write about  52 ancestors in 52 weeks and I am so excited! But thinking back about how challenges have always played a part in my life..I couldn’t help but think about my very first friend on this earth–and oh, how he challenged me!

I remember that, even though I lived in a rural area just outside of Richmond, Virginia as a child– my best friend, a boy, exactly my age, lived right next door.

Child riding stickhorseDavis and I were best friends and mortal enemies depending on the day. We spent somewhat of an idyllic childhood playing Roy Rogers and Dale Evans together. We both had older siblings in school, but with no kindergarten, we had each other at home until we were six! Davis always challenged me! And I always let myself be dared! Both our Dad’s smoked back then– in the fifties! One of the challenges Davis used to throw at me was to eat the ends off of burnt matches lying in the ashtrays liberally scattered throughout our houses in those days! And I did it! And while his Mom taught piano lessons in the other room, we raided their refrigerator and pantry and dared each other to eat the vilest things: like pickles and peanut butter, LOL, sardines and grape jelly! What must his mother have thought of the debris! She probably thought I was a terrible influence on her son…little did she know! After we’d gorged ourselves on disgusting stuff, we would strap on our cap guns and run down to hold up the school bus and demand that the driver let our big brother and sister off the bus! LOLgirl in cowgirl outfit Today we’d be in jail as terrorists, or reform school—we were five years old! Free as birds! Today that boy is a superior court judge! I was a psychologist…we turned out okay.

Now that’s a story for my own descendants—I hope it is not the only one they will hear, LOL, but I want them to know as many in the family as I know, so writing these blog posts about ancestors and family members will be so much fun!

Hope you have a great day and come back to talk with me!  Helen