Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Honoring the School Principals in our Family–Past and Present

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Leadership larrypage-quote

I love the saying above! Larry Page may have been talking about Google employees when he said this, but if you change the word “company” to “school”, I believe this is a perfect saying for educators!  They all want to have an impact for the good of society!  Their principal can help them get there if she/he is a good leader! I only know of  one actual sitting Principal in our family at this moment in time, but we have had many over the years. I want to highlight a few of these special people  for you today!  

Richard TurnerOur currently active high school principal is Dr. Richard Turner, EdD, principal of  William Byrd High School in Roanoke County, Virginia.  He is our cousin through the Langhorne, Spangler, Omohundro, Stovall, and Turner lines of our family tree.  Richard served as the Assistant Principal at William Byrd High School from 1992-1999, and has been the Principal there since 1999, for sixteen years now! You have to be amazed at his meteoric rise in educational leadership when you realize that he graduated with a BS from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 1982 and started teaching Marketing Education  at William Fleming High School that very year! In 1987, Richard earned his MS at Virginia Tech, and from 1988- 1992 he served as the Program Coordinator (Supervisor) for the Marketing and Adult Education Programs for the entire Roanoke County Public School System. He went on to earn his Doctorate in Education in 1994 at Nova-Southeasern University. 

While that is a good overview of his education and main career focus in the last 33 years, it nowhere near paints a complete portrait of this dynamic man who shares our genes and makes us proud to be related!  Was he only teaching and leading? Not by a long shot!  He is married to the talented Tina Turner who is also an educator! She is the Assistant Principal at Hidden Valley High School, also part of the Roanoke County Public School System in Virginia. Richard has two young adult children from his first marriage and two stepchildren, also young adults. That’s four children whose lives he’s been a major part of during his life, as well as the thousands of student lives he’s touched.  

Along with his demanding main career and family responsibilities,  Richard has made his life bloom with other interests and responsibilities as well.  He served as an assistant basketball coach and a head soccer coach along the way.  He taught and coordinated adult continuing education classes as well.  However, his leadership abilities were well-recognized as he served his community in these many different  capacities.He was the chairman of the Blue Ridge District with the Virginia High School League (VHSL) and chaired the VHSL Region 3! He is a past-state President of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals (VASSP), and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Region 6.  He rises to super stardom when you realize that he is a current member of the Parent’s Council at James Madison University  where his daughter is a senior, and has served as the past chairman.  He is also on the Board of Directors for the Vinton, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and serves as the co-chair for the Leadership Council for the Roanoke Valley chapter of the American Cancer Society! 

You’d think that would be all any one person could manage, until you discuss hobbies with him!  Richard admits that he loves anything and everything related to Virginia Tech!  Since Virginia Tech is all about the burnt orange and Chicago Maroon, I am trying to honor his enthusiasm  with this post! I can’t imagine where he gets the time, but he likes to golf, is a ham radio operator, , and loves working with old cars and hot rods!  He even has a collection of cars! He raced  alcohol powered karts for many years with the World Karting Association (WKA) and won several track titles!  Can you believe he finds time to serve even now as a part-time crewman for BK Racing on the Sprint Cup Series! For those n the know–his team has 3 cars that compete, #23-Jeb Burton, #26- J.J. Yeley, and #83- Matt Dibennetto! 

Can you say Wow! Awesome! Inimitable! Superlative!  Excellent! Yes, Dr. Richard Turner is all of these things! He is also our cousin. Our dna crosses over. He represents us more than well, and like all of our educators, we are so blessed to have him in our family! Thank you Dr. Richard Turner, for who you are, for your accomplishments, and for your gifts to our civilization and society!  We applaud you and are happy to call you family! 

DNA has become important in my genealogical research, and as I have written about these educators in our family, I have become even more convinced of its influence on our lives.  Dr. Richard Turner would not, I believe,  deny that dna might have had an influence on some of his talents and abilities as his own father was a stellar educator as well.   I had the opportunity to read an incredible interview of Juel McKay Turner, Turner, JuelRichard’s father, recently, and I believe you might enjoy reading it as well.  Juel was our sixth cousin, and Richard is our sixth cousin once removed, at least for those in my line and my generation.   Juel lived from 1926 to 2011. He taught and served as the Principal of different levels of schools in Virginia for thirty-five years! He served as a Principal when he had to teach as well, had no assistants, no custodian, and had to fill pot-bellied stoves with coal for heat everyday!  In this interview, Juel tells details from his salary, and his duties, to working with staff .  He tells us that right out of college in 1951 he was hired to teach sixth grade and to be the Principal as well, at Patrick Springs Elementary School in Patrick County, Virginia.  For his work, he was paid $2000.00 a year, taking home about  $170 a month, $100.00 of which went for his car!  It is an extremely interesting interview of one of our educator cousins. If you want to read it, and I think you’d love it, you can find it here: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/faculty_archives/principalship/t/276turner.html

I have three more Principals to  present to you for  our honoring of educators in the family!  They will be included in the next post. I hope you are enjoying learning about the amazing educators in our family as much as I am!  What a talented group of people!  

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Honoring the School Principals in our Family–Past and Present, Part 2 of 2

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Leadership Quote by John-Quincy-Adams on inspiring

Youngblood, Kay in front of bookshelvesToday I want to introduce you to  a true leader and another school Principal in  our family tree!  Kay Youngblood Fuller is my 2nd cousin on my father’s side of the family. We knew each other as children in Richmond,Virginia,  then lost touch until we ended up at the same small Methodist College, Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. This allowed us to renew our friendship which has lasted uninterrupted since then in 1968! Being friends with this dynamic leader and ball of fire is amazing all by itself!  She is fun to observe and fun to be with–she’s like the driving force or the wind beneath a lot of people’s wings! Kay has been married for 45 years, and has three children and three grandchildren. Like many educational leaders, she has done it all!

After college, Kay went on to earn not one, but several Master’s degrees! She earned a Masters in Curriculum at Elon College, in Elon, NC. She also earned a Master’s in Educational Administration at University of North Carolina at Pembroke, UNCP. As if that wasn’t enough, she completed all but her dissertation in Educational Leadership from UNCP/East Carolina University! What’s amazing is that Kay did all this while parenting three small children! When Kay walks into a room, people notice the energy she exudes!

Giving you the briefest synopsis of Kay’s career is still amazing in my opinion!  I neglected to tell you that Kay is also a talented musician, playing several instruments and singing beautifully! Think God gave her enough talents? The wonderful thing is that she uses them! She served as a Director of Music at Harrells Christian Academy in Harrells, North Carolina, then held the same position at  Heritage Academy in Newman, Georgia.  When her family relocated to Greensboro, NC, Kay started teaching eighth grade Math, first at Mendenhall Middle School, then at Kiser Middle School for the Guilford County Public School System. I personally was thrilled when her husband’s job brought them to Raleigh, NC where I was living.  The Wake County Public Schools System was very happy to have this experienced educator to teach 8th grade Math and English at Ligon Gifted and Talented Magnet Middle School, where both of my children attended!  Never a family to let grass grow under their feet, Kay soon found herself teaching in Laurinburg, NC where she not only taught 8th grade Math, but became the AIG-Academically/Intellectually Gifted Program Facilitator at Spring Hill Middle School! Her leadership skills firmly recognized and tested, she was chosen the Assistant Principal of I.E. Johnson Elementary School, then the Principal of Scotland High School of Leadership and Public Service in Scotland County, North Carolina!  After serving Scotland County Schools as the Director of Secondary Education, at only age 63, Kay retired with 37 years in education!

What did this amazing woman do upon retirement?  She was asked, and agreed to teach Algebra II for one year at Hickory Grove Christian School in Charlotte, NC!  This year she is administering an NC Quest Grant for Richmond County Schools!  Whew! Wow! Awesome! I can hardly catch my breath just thinking of this whirlwind flying through life!  I’d certainly have to compare her to a soaring Eagle when I think of this quote which I believe describes her very well:

Leadership eagle

Bill Williamson was married to my first cousin Claudia.  We already had the chance to meet his dynamic Williamson, Bill, Principaldaughters, teachers Becky W. Stodola and Stephanie W. Nicklin. He has a very entrepreneurial son, Bill Jr, a good businessman as well! Bill Sr. was a popular Science teacher at Matoaka High School in Chesterfield County, Virginia,  where he was also a football coach. He was later tapped to be the Principal there where he was so well-known. I wonder if that made his job harder or easier?  He served as Principal at two other schools as well, Kanawha Elementary in Cumberland County, Virginia, and  Mechanicsvile Junior High School in Mechanicsville, Virginia.  Bill also earned three Master’s degrees– one from the University of Virginia and two from Virginia Commonwealth University!  We do have an educated family–one who lives by their strong beliefs in the importance of education!  Tragically, Bill was killed in an automobile accident when he was only fifty years old. He would have been so proud to see how well his children have done professionally and personally–how they have followed in his footsteps in education. How they’ve become good people who care about others. His grandchildren as well, four of them, all growing into smart, exciting young men and women. We are blessed by this family in ours and in our world!

Hogg, Calvin, principal and Dory grandfatherAn ancestor Principal, Calvin Hogg, was born 10 Mar 1883 in Slippery Rock Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, and died 15 May 1962 in Cherry Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  He is related to  our family on both my father’s side through his Hogues and Watts, and on my mother’s side of the family through the Hoges and the Spanglers! Isn’t that amazing! I did  not know this until I started working on genealogy and met his granddaughter, my cousin, Dorothy Voorus Hogg Moore, called Dory. The Spanglers are related to Dory through her Voorus/Voorhees line of ancestors!  Amazing.  Calvin and his whole family were educators. We already met and heard about his wife Dorothy and her sisters, Bessie, and Lena. His son, Dory’s father,  Robert Arthur Hogg, taught Science and later became a Guidance Counselor.  We will hear about another of Dorothy’s brothers when we meet our college educators.

Calvin was an interesting person. He served in the Armed Services in World War I. When he returned, he earned his BA from Grove City College and his MA from the University of Pittsburgh. He then taught at Karns City Elementary. Later he served as the Principal at both Harrisville and at Evans City School. He moved on to be a District Supervisor and the Assistant Superintendent of Butler County Schools until he retired in 1953. What a career he had!  How much would I have liked to have had the opportunity to talk with him about all of his experiences over the years.  He attended schools before the turn of the 20th century, then taught and lead them for another half century, can you imagine what he could tell us?  He was retiring about the time  Juel Turner from our last post was beginning his educational career. We know Juel filled his own pot-bellied stoves for warmth in his classroom and taught and served as Principal at the same time–can you imagine what the classroom was like for Calvin Hogg?  I would have loved to hear his stories! 

Five School Principals profiled, five in one family system! I think  that is pretty amazing, and I am sure there are more of whom I am not aware.  These five however, bring us great honor as a family, and so we honor them back! Thank you for all of your hard work, for the huge gift you have given our society and our family as you have chosen to lead the call for the importance of education!  

Our last educator posts will focus on our college professors and instructors.  We have quite a few of these talented individuals who represent our family well. Please share your thoughts with us, tell us about your favorite educator, tell us about  some of these if you knew them. Until we meet again, keep on learning! 

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“V” — Virginia is for Lovers–Lovers of Mountains, Beaches, History, Gardens, and Family!

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I was born and reared in Richmond, Virginia. My Mom’s family lived in Virginia since the beginning of our country, literally, in Jamestown! I think I’ve identified at least twenty ancestors who were present in Jamestown. Through my genealogical work, I even discovered that one of my great-great grandfathers designed and helped build the Capital building of Colonial Williamsburg, and the Governors’s Palace! Fast forward to the 1950’s and ’60’s in Richmond, with my Mom working in downtown Richmond, I was often left at the capital building of Virginia to tour and wait for her to finish work. Sometimes I was left at the State library, or one of the many museums! Mom was sneaky that way…absorb a little history and education while you cool your heels! LOL One thing I absorbed, was the beauty of downtown Richmond–the old churches and all the public buildings, it is just lovely. When we went up this week to see some of the Historic Garden Week homes and gardens, seeing the city through the eyes of my friend, brought the pride back of growing up in Richmond, with its Monument Avenue, fan district, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Everywhere I looked there were stories, family stories, historic stories, and personal stories. Parades, celebrations, the department stores with their grand windows, all that came flooding back!

My Dad’s family was from Petersburg, where we toured the gardens, some of which I showed you in my T for Tour of Two Gardens post. There’s more I want to share, but today, I think I’ll concentrate on Richmond. I just want to share some of my favorite pictures, and show off some of my favorite sites in my home town.

We drove in from Midlothian and over the Huguenot Bridge into the city, just as my family did many, many days from our home on the South side of the bridge, to visit my Mom at her office on Cary Street when we were young, later downtown at 10th Street and Main Street, in the financial district.  Crossing the James River on the Huguenot Bridge brings you right up the hill past the lovely Country Club of Virginia where my sister had her wedding reception, and across from the stately old homes .

On the way to the lovely Virginia Museum of Art in downtown Richmond, we toured our friend from North Carolina around town. First step a drive down Monument Avenue with the accompanying stories of the statues facing north and south and their meaning. We had to drive her through Capital Square to show off our beautiful State Capital building designed by Thomas Jefferson. Then of course, the Jefferson Hotel itself with its grand staircase! We passed through the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University and the Medical College of Virginia, admired the architecture of small and large city houses, and admired the numerous old churches of all faiths.

Historical information from richmondthenand now.com

Regarding the Virginia State Capital building: ”

Thomas Jefferson sent from France a plaster model he had prepared in collaboration with the French architect, Charles Louis Clarisseau, as a modified design of the Maison Carre, late Roman temple at Nimes. The capitol antedated by more than 20 years the Madeleine in Paris, first example in Europe of similar quasi-literal temple architecture.

The cornerstone was laid in 1785 but the capitol was not completed in time to house the ratification convention in June, 1788, although the general assembly met in the unfinished building in October. The original portion was finished in 1792 under the supervision of Samuel Dobie and the brick was covered with stucco in 1798.

The wings and the long flight of steps were built in 1904-05.Virginia State Capitol. “

” Washington Monument, Capitol Square, St. Pauls Episcopal Church in the background – Photo 1865. “

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“T” = Tale of Two Garden Tours

President's Home, Richard Bland College, Petersburg, Virginia, April 21, 2015.Photo by Helen y. Holshouser

President’s Home, Richard Bland College, Petersburg, Virginia, April 21, 2015. Photo by Helen y. Holshouser

Tuesday, April 21, 2015, I had the opportunity and supreme pleasure of touring in Petersburg, Virginia during their Historic Garden Week in Virginia.  Can you imagine–all over the whole state of Virginia–my home state–during April, there is an open house allowing us to see inside  over 250 of the most beautiful gardens, homes,and historic landmarks in the whole state!  You can read about it in detail here:  http://www.vagardenweek.org/   You can download a pdf of the  Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week ‘s guidebook with information, pictures, and directions to all of the sites at http://www.vagardenweek.org/assets/documents/hgw15-guidebook-complete.pdf  It is full of amazing information and would be helpful in your planning for the tour the next two days, and next year! The fact that this is a volunteer effort is incredibly awesome to me! Hours and hours of hundreds of volunteers have gone in to this effort! We actually toured five sites plus a historic church yesterday, and everywhere we were warmly greeted by Master Gardeners, homeowners, historians and other volunteers!  Today I am only writing this post about two of the gardens. I will blog about all the sites in time! My friend Sharon, a neighbor and cousin, took me and my wheelchair and we met my sister Anne and two of her friends, Gail and Sandra, from Richmond. The day was 77 degrees and sunny, glorious! We had a wonderful tour, and were all majorly inspired! 

One of the beautiful gardens we toured, surrounded a pond in front of the President’s home on the campus of Richard Bland College in Petersburg.  While the home site is gorgeous, look at some of the pictures I took around the small pond just in front of this house! It is called an “Asian Water Feature” in the guidebook, I call it a secret garden, secret from the rest of the world!  It looks like it’s modeled upon Monet’s painting of the Japanese Bridge and garden, just that beautiful!  I felt a peace settle over me and an inspiration that was just wonderful! 

There were Master Gardeners everywhere, and they identified every single plant I asked about, but I could only do my best in trying to remember all the names! 

The second exquisite garden we toured was owned by Dr. and Mrs. Henry Tomlin–by God’s good fortune, we had the opportunity to be escorted and guided through the garden by Dr.Tomlin himself!  You could never ask for a more gracious, knowledgeable guide! Afterall, he was the owner and landscaper himself!  I suspect we had such good fortune because he wanted to save the rest of his garden from the accident prone, handicapped but enthusiastic garden tourist that was me! We entered on the path through a beautiful gateway and followed the path to the garden. Quickly we came to a grassy park area, surrounded by objets d’art in the lovely gardens which included dogwood trees in the distance and made you go “aaaaahhhh!” It looked like we could walk around the little grassy island, but soon after I ventured out in my power wheelchair, I realized it was wet–very wet!  I sunk through the grass and couldn’t move backwards or forwards! My spinning wheels were making tracks, ruts and digging holes in his pristine grassy park!  Ooooooh! I felt terrible!  We had not met him yet, but my friend helped me out of the chair, and started trying to push the 500 lb. power chair out of the mud/grass! A very kind man came along to help, and it turned out to be Dr.Tomlin,MD,  a retired obstetrician, owner, and landscape designer of these beautiful gardens! I offered to pay to have the area I had messed up fixed, and he put me at ease, not even sounding like he’d like to conk me over the head when I’d made such a mess on such an important day! He did say as well, to be gracious, and I imagine to protect his gardens, to let him guide us through the gardens because he knew where it was dry! As it turns out, they own five acres, and have landscaped three of them! We had an amazing tour. I wish I would have had a tape recorder, because perhaps my pictures can, but my memory won’t do him or his garden justice. He told us that when Hurricane Isabelle came through that area in 2003, they lost 120 trees! Getting them all removed was the beginning of this fabulous garden! Just look at this beauty, and I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did! 

Remembering American Slaves by Name, Part II

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slave names

–www.slideshare.net

slave names engraved on hand

–www.pinterest.com, search for image

The Slave Name Roll Project, started by Schalene Jennings Dagutis, strives to create a searchable resource for genealogical research of ancestors who were slaves in the United States. By asking descendants of slaves and slave-owners,  to collect and submit  names of slaves of their ancestors to this project, the hope is to collect as many names as possible, making them all more searchable and accessible to descendants.  There are only a few main resources to find the names of slaves. The slave schedules only had numbers of slaves. But some courts required the listing of slaves by name for property tax purposes. The other main place to find the names of slaves, is in wills.  People actually willed their slaves to their children!  Everytime I realize this, it makes me sick at heart. I will never understand how one of my relatives truly thought it was not only all right, but a good thing, to own slaves –to enslave another human being and  rationalize it in your mind! But it happened on a large-scale in the United States, until we fought a war over it and the slaves were freed. It took at least another one hundred years for African-Americans to begin to gain their civil rights.

Virginia showing Warwick County on map

Warwick County, Virginia, source: familysearch.org

 

My eighth great- grandfather, John Langhorne arrived in the Virginia Colony sometime after the mid 1600’s.  He and his wife Rebecca Carter married in England in 1665. John established a family home in Warwick County, Virginia, which served five generations.  In his book, The Virginia Langhornes, Appendix V, page 309,  James C. Langhorne gives a list of 36 slaves, first names only, who belonged to the Langhorne family, and were enumerated on the Warwick County tax lists between 1783-1785. By 1783, three generations of Langhornes who had lived in the home at Warwick County were gone. John’s great-grandson,William Langhorne  1721-1797, my 5th great-grandfather, would have been the head of the household  at that time. That means we’ve not yet found a lot of names. I will continue my research and see what I can find. I wanted to go ahead and get these names submitted so that they would be available for family to find.

Cumberland_County,_Virginia

Cumberland County, Virginia, source familysearch.org

 

In this same appendix, James C. Langhorne lists 80 more slaves who belonged to the Langhorne family who lived on a plantation in Cumberland County, Virginia.  These names were collected from Cumberland County tax records and estate records between 1784-1797. James C. Langhorne makes a note of telling us that names appearing more than once are not duplicated.  We know that  Maurice Langhorne, 1721-1791 was the first of the family to  relocate to Cumberland County in the piedmont of Virginia, away from the coast. He was my fifth great-grandfather, and  according to  tax records he bought thousands of acres of land in Cumberland, establishing himself as a successful plantation owner. The only way he believed he could be a successful planter in the late 1700’s, was to use slave labor to work the agricultural endeavors.  Among those slaves, are these now identified by James C. Langhorne if only by first names. I take my hat off to James, not many authors of genealogy books include the family slaves! It is a commendable thing that he does.

 

I found the illustration of Isaiah 49:15 very fitting for this situation. Men in  17th and 18th century America might have neglected the names of their slaves, but it seems God did not. As we find more and more names to place in the Slave Name Project, it seems God is giving the names to us, as He was holding them in the palm of His hand all the time, as promised.

slavery quote by Abraham Lincoln

From The Virginia Langhornes by James C. Langhorne we find this list of names of slaves owned by the Langhorne family, from Warwick County, Virginia, 1783-1785:

Adam,  Ann,  Bedford,  Ben,  Bob,  Cloe,  Cuddy,  Cupid,

Dinah,  Eliza,  Fanny,  Flora,  Frank,  Freeborn,  Grace,  Jack

James, James Read,  Jerry,  Judith,  Lawrence,  Lucinda,  Lucy,

Nanny,  Paul,  Peter,  Phillis,  Rachel,  Roger,  Sary,  Sylvia,  Sue  

Tom,  Venus ,  Will    

Also from The Virginia Langhornes comes this list of 80 more slaves belonging to the Langhorne family  in Cumberland County, Virginia between 1784-1797, gathered from estate records and County records:

 

“Abba,  Abraham,  Absolam,  Agga,  Alice,  Amy,  Ann,  Anthony, Archer,  Belley,  Betty,  Bob,  Caroline,  Cate,  Charles B. Smith,  Cland,  Damond,  Daniel,  Daphne,  Davy,  Dick,  Edmond,  Emy, Fanny,  Flora,  Frank,  George,  Hannah,  Hannibal,  Harry,  Isaac, Jack,  Jackson,  Jacob,  James,  Jane,  Jenny,  Jesse,  Jim,  Jimmy,  Jocie,  Joe,  John,  Johny,  Joicey,  Jubar,  Judy,  Juliana,  Julius,  Let,  Lewis,  Lucy,  Margery,  Misse,  Molly,  Moses,  Nancy,  Natt,  Ned,  Patty,  Peter,  Phillis,  Polly,  Rachel,  Reid,  Rhoda,  Robin Byrd,   Roger,  Rose,  Sally,  Sam,  Sarah,  Shepherd,  Sue,  Sukey,  Tom,  Violet,  Will,  Wiltshire,  Yorick “

What a blessing to be free, I wish you and your loved ones that blessing always!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meadows of Dan Baptist Church Burns Down!

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Meadows of Dan is a small town on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Patrick County, Virginia. It sits at the mouth of the Dan River which runs down through North Carolina. My great, great-grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne (called Steptoe) is credited with naming this town when he took up residence there about 1840. He and his wife, my Great-Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro inherited a 13,000 acre plantation! They had slaves to help them run the house and the agricultural part of the plantation. They built a grist mill, started a school, and taught Sunday school from their own home. I descend from their daughter Evelyn, one of Steptoe’s eight children. Unfortunately, Steptoe was blind, inflicted with retinitis pigmentosa, the hereditary disease that stole the sight of his mother, several of his siblings, children, grandchildren, and continues in the family today.

Steptoe’s daughter Frances, called Fannie married Wallace Wolford Spangler and they raised their six children right there in the Meadows of Dan while most of the other grandchildren went elsewhere. When we had a Langhorne family reunion last year, it was the Spanglers who gave the tours and led the singing since they were the accomplished musicians from years gone by ! (If you check the right column of categories, you can find many stories and music videos about the Langhornes and the Spanglers.) While all of the grandchildren are gone, many of Steptoe’s Great-Grandchildren, Great-Greats and more still live in the area. 

During the Langhorne reunion last year, several of the family attended church services at the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church. We all went to the church cemetery where Steptoe and Elizabeth are buried, as well as Evelyn, Fannie and some others, including Evelyn’s child Virginia. This beautiful church and cemetery rests on land that once belonged to the Langhorne’s, Steptoe and his brother William who donated the land for the church, and even built the first log church there. When you walk in the cemetery and into the church, you can feel a sense of roots–this is  where our family lived, this is where they walked, 175 years ago! 

Also in this same church cemetery, are the graves of the Langhorne slaves. Yes, they are segregated, but they are present in the same church cemetery which lends credence to the stories of the Langhornes being kind to their slaves and treating them humanely. I am working on another post about the slaves, gathering their names for the National Slave Name Roll Project which was recently started by Schalene Jennings Dagutis. Over the years, there have been some controversies surrounding the “slave meadow” as their area has come to be called, started by an article of that name that can by found in the online mountain journal by Bob Heafner entitled The Mountain Laurel. I discuss this in more detail in the next post. 

Over 100 years ago, the members of the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church built a new church–the lovely white one seen in the pictures above. Last night that church burned down!  Thank heavens, no one was hurt.  Apparently the fire was caused by the furnace malfunctioning. Already the minister of the church is reminding the public that the church is the community, not the building. They will rebuild and be stronger than ever. 

When I learned that the church was on fire– I was shocked, even moved to tears! Then I was surprised that I had such strong feelings for a church just barely known to me really, as family history. However, I realized that I had gotten to know many people, many cousins,  in that community in the last couple years–I knew it would be painful to them, and part of what I was feeling was sympathy, empathy, the desire to go and be with them, to comfort them. I have to admit, being steeped just now in slave research, I wondered if there was malice involved, or anything to do with the controversies of the slave meadow. As it turns out that was all fantasy on my part, it reflects what I was studying in another era, arson is NOT suspected in this situation, but a wiring or other electrical problem unfortunately. The blessing comes in that no one was hurt by such a huge fire!  If you look at the very last photograph above (click to enlarge), you will see that three crosses appeared in the fire. A citizen of the community took this picture, Angela Grubb. What does it mean? Was it real?  What do you think, I’d really like to know. 

What a heart breaking event for many, many people, members of the church, and others with ties to the community.   I am praying that from the ashes something better will arise, with God’s help. Amen. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie Kerse Maher ad for music lessons

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

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

velvet coat, marron

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

Kerse lawsuit bet. Marie and Thomas

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

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

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

Marie Kerse remembers twin sister

 

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

 

 

 

Former blog posts about the Kerse and allied families:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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St. Johns Church, Richmond, Virginia

St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia

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

Second Continental Congress

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

Maj. William Langhorne

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

This gallery contains 6 photos