Author: Susan

Salem Massachuetts AND The Salem Witch Trials

SALEM MASSACHUSETTS

 

The saddest story in the history of the country is that of the witch craze at Salem, Massachusetts, brought about by a negro woman and company of girls. The negress, Tituba, was a slave, whom Rev Samuel Parris, one of the ministers of Salem, had purchased in Barbados. We may think of Tituba as seated in the old kitchen of Mr. Parris’s house during the long winter evening, telling witch stories to the minister’s niece, Elizabeth, who was nine years old. She draws a circle in the ashes on the hearth, burns a lock of hair, and mutters some gibberish. They are incantations to call up the devil and his imps. The girls of the village gather in the old kitchen to hear Tituba’s stories, and to mutter words that have no meanings. The girls were Abigail Williams, who was eleven, Anne Putnam who was twelve, Mary Walcot,and Mary Lewis who were seventeen, Elizabeth Hubbard, Elizabeth Booth, and Susannah Sheldon, eighteen, and two servant girls, Mary Warren and Sarah Churchill. Tituba taught them to bark like dogs, mew like cats,  grunt like hogs, and to creep through chairs and under tables on their hands and feet, and to pretend to have spasms. 

 

Mr. Parris had read the books and pamphlets published in England, how persons bewitched acted like animals, and went into spasms, and he came to the conclusion that they were bewitched. He sent for Doctor Griggs, who said that the girls were not sick, and without doubt were bewitched. 

 

THE TOWN WAS ON FIRE! 

People came to see the girls, who delighted with the success of their play, crept about all the more like cats and dogs, barking, mewing, and uttering piercing screams. 

Sunday came, and when the congregation had finished singing, Abigail Williams said to Mr. Parris, “Now stand up and name your text.” 

The minister and everybody else was amazed, but he read his text. 

“It is a long one,” said Abigail. 

The minister went on with his preaching. 

“There, we have had enough of that,” shouted another girl. 

“There is a yellow bird on the minister’s hat,” cried Anne Putnam. 

The parents of the girls stood aghast, and Mr. Parris, believing that they were assaulted by the devil, invited the ministers of the other parishes to come and hold a day of fasting and prayer. The ministers assembled, saw the girls go into fits, rolling their eyes, holding their breath, muttering gibberish, peeping like frogs, barking like dogs, and devoutly believed that they were bewitched. They prayed solemnly and fervently, recalling the saying of Jesus Christ, “This kind goeth not out except by fasting and prayer.” 

The news spread quickly, and the people came in crowds to see the girls. 

“Who bewitched you?’ they asked.

 

Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn, and Tituba,” the girls answered. 

 

Sarah Good was a poor old woman, who begged her bread from door to door. Sarah Osburn was old, wrinkled, and sickly. 

 

What a scene was around the meeting house, March 1st, 1692!

All of Salem was there, for the women who were accused of being witches were to be examined by the justices.

 

Sheriff and constable escorted the justices, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, from Thomas Beadle’s tavern to the meeting house and gave them seats in front of the pulpit. Rev. Parris prayed that God would direct them. The girls were there, and Sarah Good was brought in by the sheriff. 

 

“Have you made a contract with the devil?” asked Justice Hathorne.
“NO.”

“Children, is this the person who hurt you?”  

“Yes, she is sticking pins into me!” the girls screeched. 

“Why do you torment the children?” 

“I do not.” 

The girls went on with their screeching, and the justice and all the people were so deluded, and were such firm believers in witchcraft, that they accepted all that the girls said as truth, and the denials of the wrinkled old women as lies. 

 

“Sara Osburn, have you made a contract with the devil? Asked the justice. 

“I never saw the devil.”

“Why do you hurt the children?”

“I do not hurt them.”

“SHE DOES! She Does!” said the girls, and the people decided in their minds against her.

“Tituba, why do you hurt the children?”

“I do not.”

“Who is it, then?”

“The devil, for aught I know.”

“Did you see the devil?”

“Yes, he came to me and bid me serve him. Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn wanted me to hurt the children, but I would not.”

“How does the devil appear when he comes to you?”

“Sometimes like a hog, and sometimes like a great black dog.”

“What else have you seen?”

“Two cats, one red, and the other black. I saw them last night, and they said “Serve me, but I would not.” 

“What did they want you to do?”

“Hurt the children.” 

“Did you not pinch Elizabeth Hubbard?”

“Yes, they made me pinch her, and wanted me to kill her with a knife.”

“How do you ride when you go to meet the devil?”

“On a stick. I ride in front, and Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn behind me. We go up over trees, and in a short time are in Boston or anywhere else.”

Tituba had a great many other things to tell…that the devil sometimes wore a tall black hat, that one of his imps was about three feet high, hairy all over, and had a long nose, and that the imp came into Mr. Parris’s house and stood by the fire. 

 

The people believed her. Would she be likely to admit that she was a witch if she were not one? 

 

The girls accused her of pinching them and she acknowledged that she did so. Therefore, the girls were telling the truth and Sarah Osburn and Sarah Good, were liars. So the justice and the people reasoned, and the sheriff took them to Ipawich jail which was about 10 miles away, and the people went home to talk over the event. 

 

The ministers of Salem, Boston, and the surrounding towns met to consult over the situation. Among them was the learned Cotton Mather who accepted the terrible accounts as truth which had reached him from England. Few if any doubted that the girls were bewitched, and the girls were loving the attention so went on with their creeping, barking, mewing, and falling into convulsions, and crying that someone was sticking pins in them. They accused Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse, two women who were kind to the poor, and very religious, but so credulous were Rev. Parris and Rev. Noyes and everyone else, that they were arrested. When they were examined before the justice, the girls all cried out that the women were tormenting them. “I am as innocent as a child unborn,” said Mrs. Nurse: but the people, the ministers, and the justices, all lost their heads, and the women were committed to prison

 

. Mrs. Good had a little girl, Dorcas who was five years old, and the girls said that Dorcas helped her mother in tormenting them. “She bites me!” they cried, and showed the prints of teeth on their arms. The sheriff arrested Dorcas and put her in prison, where she was chained with her mother. It was believed that unless the witches were chained they would fly out through the keyhole. Sara Cloyse and Elizabeth Proctor were the next accused. The judges met sometimes at Thomas Beadle’s tavern and sometimes in the meeting house.

 

The news spread quickly. No one doubted that the devil had come in great wrath to afflict the good people of Salem. Rev Lawson, Rev Parris, Rev Noyes, and other ministers preached sermons against witchcraft, making it clear that these manifestations were without a doubt produced by the devil. The whole colony was up in arms, and Lieutenant -Governor Danforth and his councillors, which consisted of six hundred men, went to Salem to sit in judgement at the trial of Sarah and Elizabeth. Abigail Williams brought a horrible accusation. 

 

“I saw a company of witches at the Rev Parris’s house,” she said; “there were forty of them. They had a sacrament, and Sarah Cloyse and Sarah Good were their deacons, and the witches drank blood.” 

Sarah Cloyse fainted at the terrible accusation, and the girls went into convulsions. John, a negro of Mr Parris, rolled and tumbled upon the floor, and all cried out that the witches were tormenting them. 

Governor Danforth and his councillors were amazed. The prisoners had no one to help them. There were few lawyers in America at that time. The governor and the judges asked them questions, having already made up his mind that they were witches, and poor women, friendless and alone, had nothing to say except “We are innocent.”  

No one believed them but took the word of the girls as the truth. The poor women were thrown into prison. 

Instead of there being fewer witches, there were more, and in a short time the jails were filled with men and women. Among those arrested was Rev. George Burroughs, who had once preached in Salem, but who was living in Maine. The sheriff made a long journey to arrest him. 

Not only the girls and Tituba, but others accused those arrested of being witches. If a man had anything against his neighbor, it was easy for him to take revenge by accusing him of exercising witchcraft. Samuel Shattuck who dyed clothes for a living, had trouble with Bridget Bishop. John the negro also had a grievance against her, and testified that she was a witch. “I saw her go through a hole no larger than my hand, “ said John. The judges believe him.  

 

Samuel Shattuck’s child had fits. “I believe it is the work of Bridget,” he said.

 

WHAT COULD THE JUDGES DO? 

 

They condemned them to be hung. The Bible commanded that witches should not live. For one hundred and fifty years the laws of England had been in force against witches. Thirty thousand had been executed in England. Parliament had appointed a witch finder. King James had written a book against them.  Archbishop Jewell had begged Queen Elizabeth to burn them. Rev Richard Baxter, whose name was reverenced all over, had written against the witches. In all lands they were seen as the enemies of God and man as they were conspiring with the Evil One against the livelihood of the community. The great and good Lord Chief justice of England, Mathew Hale had condemned those to death who were not near so diabolical as the accused, and had written a book referring from the Bible that witches were in cahoots with the devil! 

 

Besides the people of Salem, the friends and neighbors all believed that the accused were witches, and ought to be put to death. They were magistrates, appointed by God, as they believed, to administer the laws faithfully and impartially. They had seen the girls go into fits and convulsions, and heard them cry when the witches pinched them. With the rest of the world, the judges lost their minds, and condemned the poor people accused to death. 

 

TO THE HILL THEY GO! 

 

Gallows were erected on a hill overlooking the village. Through the streets of Salem rattled the cart that bore them to their place of execution. They climbed the ladder with the halter around their necks, men and women, the minister, and those who had listened to his preaching. 

People gazed in horror as their old friends and neighbors,  swang in the air struggling at the throes of death.  When life was gone from them, the bodies were thrown into holes, and piled with dirt. They trampled it down, and thought of them as suffering the torments of the devil. 

 

HOW HORRIBLE! 

If we were living in those days would we too have lost our judgement, reason, and common sense? 

The wisest and best of men in 1692 fell for it, under the terrible delusion, wild foundation, and lamentable ignorance of the period. 

Nineteen men and women were hung. 

Giles Corey, who would neither say “Guilty” or “Not Guilty, “ had rocks piled upon him til he was crushed to death. 

One hundred and fifty men and women were thrown into prison before the people came to their senses! 

The wife of Rev. Hale, of Beverly, was accused. There was not a woman in Massachusetts more beloved, honored and respected. The people were amazed. They could not believe that such a godly woman would join with the devil. They began to see, what they had not thought of before, was that perhaps the girls were lying about the witches tormenting them. The judges had not questioned the girls, …only the accused. The denials had been disregarded . Why would young girls lie? 

 

THE SPELL WAS BROKEN

 People saw that they had been under a delusion. Samuel Sewall,  one of the judges, humbly confessed on Sunday in the old South Church in Boston, with tears rolling down his cheeks, and ever after, so long as he lived, kept a day of fasting and repentance once a year to manifest his sorrow to the world. 

“Touching and sad a tale is told, 

Like a penitent hymn of the Psalmist old, 

Of the fast which the good man life long kept, 

With a haunting sorrow that never slept. 

As the circling years brought round the time

Of an error that left the sting of crime.” 

 

IT’S OVER NOW

SET THEM FREE 

The sheriff threw open the prison doors and the prisoners accused of being witches were released. The girls, having no one to believe their accusations, had no more stories to tell of being tormented. The great wave of superstition that had sent hundreds of thousands to an untimely grave in Europe, died out in the village of Salem. 

The girls…

Though fully and humbly confessing  for their actions found little happiness in life. Forever before their eyes were the swinging forms of those who had died upon the gibbet due to their childish pranks and the terrible tragedy they had mustered. 

I cannot begin to imagine the guilt they must have carried with them throughout their lives. 

I hope you enjoyed this episode for the Salem Witch Trials. Stay tuned for upcoming post as I will reveal to you how The Pierce Family has connections to some of those involved. If you liked this post please leave me a comment in the comment section and STAY tuned for the next post. My source of information here was mostly from the  book Old Times in the Colonies by Charles Carleton Coffin as well as most of the pictures. No copyright infringement was intended. 

 

Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian

WHAT LED TO THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS

 

THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS BEGINNING

PART 1

 

The Salem Witch trials took place from FEB 1892 and continued to May of 1893 before the people finally realized that something was wrong here. But to truly understand the panic of the people,  we must go back a bit further in time. When trying to decide how to share the information that connects us to this history I was undecided. I have decided to do this as a series in order to get all the information together. So follow along as I lay out a map of events. 

 

YEARS BEFORE

 

Back in the day EVERYONE believed in witches. They believed that men and women alike could make a bargain with the devil who gave them power to torment whoever they pleased. Everyone believed that the devil was very much like a man, except that he had wings like a bat, a tail, cloven feet, and horns, and that he was able to empower witches, enabling them to conjure up storms, sink ships, afflict children with fits, kill cattle, set chairs and tables to dance, and that they had the power to make themselves invisible and creep through keyholes,ride on broomsticks and delighted in holding  orgies in the thunderstorms. To doubt the existence of witches was to reject the teachings of the Bible. 

 

In 1488, four years before Columbus sailed in search of the New World, a storm swept over Constance, in Switzerland, which destroyed the corn and grapes and the people accused Anne and Agnes Mindelen of having raised it. They confessed that the devil put them up to it and they were burned to death. Two years before this in 1486, Pope Innocent VIII issued a bill directing that witches should be burnt, so we know they were in belief even before this. 

 

When the wicked and cruel Alexander VI was in the papal chair, he set the Inquisitors to work to rid the world of witches. They burned six hundred poor old women in the bishoprie of Bamberg in Germany. By  the shore of Lake Geneva, in 1515, during three months more than five hundred were burned to death. Can you even imagine? Innocent women were accused of horrible crimes by their neighbors and best friends and were led out by the shore, chained to stakes, wood piled around them and their bodies were smeared with pitch so that the fire might take better hold upon the bodies. 

 

In 1549 the good Archbishop Cranmer gave these directions to the bishops: “You shall inquire whether any one makes use of charms, sorcery, enchantments, witchcraft, soothsayings, or any like craft invented by the devil.” 

 

Countess of Lennox, who conspired against Queen Elizabeth was one who consulted witches. 

 

ARCHBISHOP SPOTSWOOD 

 

In 1591 Archbishop Spotswood spent nearly all his time examining witches. All throughout Spain, France, Germany, and Holland during this time, thousands of men and women were burned. In the village of Lindheim Germany which at the time contained only six hundred inhabitants, thirty were put to death in one year. Overall more than one hundred thousand were burnt at the stake. 

 

In 1618 seventeen witches were condemned to death in Lancashire; sixteen in Yarmouth and fifteen in Chelmsford. 

 

JUST THROW THEM IN THE POND

 

When a woman was accused of being a witch, her hands were tied to her feet, and she was thrown into a pond. If she didn’t sink, it was considered proof that she was a witch and the devil had given her the power to float. If she did indeed sink and went to the bottom she was supposed to be innocent. Very few floated and nearly all the poor creatures were drowned while being proved innocent. 

 

MATTHEW HOPKINS

 

Matthew Hopkins was appointed witch finder. He travelled through England, his expenses being paid, and a fat fee besides. He would examine their bodies for witch marks and arrested whoever he pleased. If a pimple, wart, or wen were discovered, it was an indication that a person was in conjunction with bad spirits! (OH MY! We are all witches! ) These were considered devil marks. The accused were subjected to terrible torture to get them to confess. It wasn’t long before more than one hundred persons were hung through Hopkin’s efforts. He was aided by some of the best men in England. One  of those who suffered death at his hands was a good old minister who was 88 years of age and had preached over half a century. Hopkins threw him into a pond, and as he did not sink, it was a sure sign that he had sold himself to the devil. The good man died declaring to his last breath that he was innocent. 

 

Hopkins was highly thought of by the people as he was thought to be of superior wisdom. However, he was soon accused also and as we know, paybacks are hell, right? His thumbs were tied to his big toes and he was thrown into the pond. However he managed to swim and insisted that he was not a witch and saved his neck from the noose. 

 

SIR MATTHEW HALE

 

Sir Matthew Hale was lord of chief justice and was revered a good man, an upright judge, and presided at many of the witches trials. Amy Duny and Rose Cuflender were accused by Margaret Arnold of bewitching her little girl who was afflicted by fits. 

 

“One day a bee flew into the face of my child, and a few minutes later she vomited up a two penny nail. At another time my little girl caught an invisible mouse which she threw into the fire, and it instantly flashed like gunpowder.” she said. 

 

Nearly all the accusations were as silly as this. 

 

Sir Matthew called upon Thomas Brown who was considered a great and learned physician at the time, to give his opinion.   Mr. Brown felt that the fits were natural but that they had been heightened by the devil cooperating with the witches. 

 

Sir Matthew was a tender hearted man but with the testimony of the greatest physician in England ruled that the devil and two old women were making the child sick.  The Bible commanded that he put them to death and he ordered them executed. 

 

Later Sir Matthew wrote a book about witchcraft.  Soon Rev. Richard Baxter, a learned and godly minister, wrote another. Shortly after Rev. Perkins published a third book, all three telling of the horrible crimes and incantations of the witches. The Printers of London kept their presses busy, printing pamphlets about witches. No one doubted the stories told by the accusers, especially when so many of the accused confess that they were in a league with the devil. I think it was a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. I mean what are you going to do? 

 

GOSSIP SPREADS LIKE FIRE

Now every vessel crossing the Atlantic brought news of the doings of the witches in England, as well ast books and pamphlets to the settlers’ homes all over New England and Virginia. Governors, judges, ministers and people alike read them, and believed what the good men like Chief justice Hale and Richard Baxter had written. When anything out of the norm happened that they couldn’t account for, of course the witch did it. If the butter would not come in churning, the cream was bewitched. And the way to get the witch out was to heat a horseshoe red hot and drop it into the churn. This would so scorch the hag that she would leave in a twinkling. A horseshoe nailed over a door would prevent witches from entering it. (and we thought it was for good luck right? )

 

Ministered preached about witches and warned their listeners that the Prince of the Power of the Air was all around them, going up and down the earth looking for who he might devour. By the wide mouthed fireplaces in the old kitchens stories were told of what the witches were doing. Listeners felt their flesh creep and their hair stand on end while the stories were told. Timid people were afraid to go outside after dark, sure that they might encounter a ghost or hobgoblin. Boys and girls, if sent to the cellar for a mug of cider or for apples, were terrified of seeing a shadow on the wall. When they climbed the stairs to bed it was with a quick and nervous step (you know the kind…we’ve all done it!!) for there was no telling what was behind the boxes and barrels in the garret.  When lightning flashed or rain beat hard against the windows, they thought of the witches that were flying through the air on broomsticks or holding a revel in the forest. The dim pale light that they sometimes saw along the marshes was will-o-the wisp or the devil’s wish…ready to lure them into some snare. The devil was ever around them and the witches would do his bidding. 

 

MARGARET AND THOMAS  JONES

 Now about the time that Matthew Hopkins was tossing women into the ponds and hanging them, the people of Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1648, accused Margaret Jones of being a witch.  She was a doctor and used roots and herbs for healing. The idea was that she had a “malignant touch;” that if she laid her hands on a person in anger they would become blind, deaf, or in some way afflicted. She was imprisoned, and the man who guarded her said that he saw a little child with her, which instantly vanished. 

 

She naturally declared her innocence but the people protested that she was in league with the devil, and she was executed. 

 

John Winthrop who kept a diary said “the day and hour she was executed there was a very great tempest in Connecticut, which blew down trees, and did much damage” . The superstitious people firmly believed that the devil was taking vengeance upon the country. 

 

Margaret’s husband Thomas, had a sorry time of it after she was hung. People pointed their fingers at him, and made life so miserable that he went on board a ship bound for Barbadoes. It was a small vessel, and there were eight horses on the deck, which made it top heavy. While at anchor in the harbor the craft started to roll fearfully, and the superstitious sailors said that Thomas Jones was the cause of it and hustled him on shore and into prison as a witch. 

 

HUGH PARSONS

 

People were such firm believers in witchcraft, and so credulous, that it was easy to create a suspicion against a person, and many women were accused of being witches by their jealous and envious neighbors. One of the settlers of Springfield, Massachusetts, Hugh Parsons, sawed boards and planks for a living. He worked hard during the day and filed his saws at night, and made money faster than some of his neighbors, who through jealousy, perhaps, accused him of being a witch. He was arrested and Hannah Lankton and her husband testified that one day they had boiled pudding for dinner, and when they took it out of the bag it was cut open lengthwise, as if with a knife. They did not know what to make of it, and said it was bewitched. They threw a piece of it into the fire, and soon after Mr. Parsons came to the door, which convinced them that he had bewitched it. A neighbor could not get a tap out of a beer barrel, but Mr. Parsons pulled it out without any difficulty, which was sure proof that he was a witch. 

 

Mrs. Parsons was sick and became insane, and the people said that she had sold herself to the devil. Her little child died, and they said that she and her husband had poisoned it. They were put in prison, and the neighbors testified against them. 

 

One man saw snakes in his room at night. A woman saw a light flickering around her petticoat, a cow would not give milk, a woman had a pain in her breast, a little girl said that she saw a dog, though no one else could see it. Others saw things that they could not account for, which made them think that their neighbor Parsons was a witch. Although he and his wife were cast into prison, the judges did not think they were witches and they were not put to death. In nearly every town there were men and women who were suspected of being witches. 

 

GENERAL  MOULTON 

 

Hampton, New Hampshire had a witch, General Moulton, who made money so fast that his superstitious neighbors said that the devil helped him. One day his house caught fire and the people said that the Evil One had done it because the General had fooled him. He had bargained with Satan to fill one of his boots every night with gold. The devil came to fill it, and was amazed to find that it took several cart loads. Wondering how so small a boot could hold so much, he made an examination, and discovered that the General had cut a hole in the sole and another in the floor, and the gold had run through it, and he had filled the cellar. Infuriated he blew a flame from his mouth and set the house on fire!

 

I will stop here for now and prepare another post. Stay tuned for the next post. Hope you have enjoyed my series to this point. If so please leave me a comment in the comment section and I look forward to bringing you more in the coming days. My source for this infomation was basically from the book Old Times in the Colonies by Charles Carleton Coffin, copyright 1908 by Sallie R. Coffin. No copyright infringement intended.

 

Thank You for stopping by and Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian

Kiss your Irish Heritage

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day

The Global celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is March 17.  It is a day of remembrance of St. Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, who ministered Christianity in Ireland in the fifth century and has become a global celebration for any one with Irish decent.  

Saint Patrick is the most well-known of all of Ireland’s patron saints, but guess what!?, he wasn’t Irish. He was actually born in Great Britain,and was kidnapped from his home by pirates at the age of 16.  He was forced into slavery in Ireland, where he looked after animals. At the age of 22, Saint Patrick was able to escape and return to his home in Great Britain. He decided to become a cleric and then eventually a bishop.

While still  in Great Britain, Saint Patrick claimed to have had a vision of the people of Ireland calling out to him in one unified voice, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.” At this time, the Irish people were polytheistic pagans, meaning they worshiped more than one different Gods and deities. Inspired by his vision, Saint Patrick returned to Ireland with the goal  to bring Christianity to the people.

One of the most popular legends involving Saint Patrick involves him driving all of the snakes out of Ireland. However, Ireland is surrounded by icy waters which would make it impossible for snakes to migrate to the Emerald Isle in the first place. It’s far more likely that the snakes in the legend refer to the paganism that Saint Patrick set out to change. The Christian faith often used snakes or serpents as symbols for evil.

St. Patrick’s Day first started to honor Saint Patrick on the anniversary of his death. The Christian people held a great feast for which Lenten food and alcohol restrictions were temporarily removed, which is why drinking has become synonymous with the holiday. Today, that tradition remains, as some Catholic people choose to cast aside Lent restrictions just for St. Patrick’s Day.

Throughout the years  St. Patrick’s Day became less about the man and more about general Irish traditions, culture and history. In the 1840s, the tradition reached America when thousands upon thousands of Irish people who had emigrated to America to escape the potato famine of the time held a massive St. Patrick’s Day parade. Since then, the American people have embraced the holiday, continuing to add their own  ever-evolving traditions.

GET YOUR GREEN ON

If you attend any St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you can expect to see the majority of revelers decked out in their finest green outfits. While some may think the green is simply a reference to Ireland’s famous rolling green hills, the color actually stems from another iconic St. Patrick’s Day symbol—the shamrock. According to legend, Saint Patrick used three-leaf clovers as a teaching tool to illustrate Christianity’s Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Celebrators would wear shamrocks on their clothing in honor of Saint Patrick, and eventually that tradition evolved into wearing green as well.

DON’T FORGET TO KISS THE BLARNEY STONE!

What is the Blarney stone?

The Blarney Stone is a block of Carboniferous limestone. Carboniferous being a geologic period and system that spans 600 million years from the end of the Devonian Period 358 million years ago to the beginning of the Permian Period.  This limestone is  built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, about 8 kilometres from Cork, Ireland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of eloquence or as we might say today the gift of  gab. The definition of eloquence means that the speaker is able to express themselves clearly and powerfully and though it generally describes oral speech it can also be used to describe powerful writing. Basically, it means being able to use words well, with smooth clear, powerful and interesting speaking, The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446.

For over 200 years, world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have joined the millions of pilgrims climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate.

Traditionally, one was to be held upside down by their ankles and lowered head first over the battlements to kiss the Blarney stone in order to receive the “blessing”.  Today, due to caution and safety there is an iron railing to assist the visitors. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence.

What are battlements you ask? Battlements is the wall or the “fort” as we call it that surrounds the castle. They were built chest or head high with with rectangular cut outs at intervals so stones or arrows could be launched in the need of defense. Basically it was a wall to hide behind for protection in case of an attack.

Some say the Blarney stone was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it became the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone’, used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for kings. It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Legend says it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny.

When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic Stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and it was returned to Ireland.

Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel’ behind which David hid on Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.

Whatever the truth of its origin, we believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys.

WATCH OUT FOR LEPRECHAUNS

According to folklore, you get pinched on StPatrick’s day for not wearing green because green makes you invisible to leprechauns, and leprechauns like to pinch people (because they can!) The tradition is tied to folklore that says wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, which like to pinch anyone they can see. Some people also think sporting the color will bring good luck, and others wear it to honor their Irish ancestry.

According to Irish legends, people lucky enough to find a leprechaun and capture him (or, in some stories, steal his magical ring, coin or amulet) can barter his freedom for his treasure. Leprechauns are usually said to be able to grant the person three wishes. But dealing with leprechauns can be a tricky proposition.

St. Patrick’s Day is an opportunity to spend time having some fun with the people in your life you care about most and make some memories that you won’t forget.

 

HAPPY ST. PATTY’S DAY!

HAPPY HUNTING

THE PIERCE FAMILY HISTORIAN

 

**NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.

John Franklin Pierce An Early Pioneer Settler

John Franklin Pierce was born January 1, 1843, at Sugar Grove, Smith county, Virginia. He was the eldest son of  Alexander and Nancy K (Shaver) Pierce, pioneer settlers of Rye Valley, VA.

1840 to 1860 was a time of prosperity for Smyth Co. VA. Smyth County is a land of rivers and valleys. These river bottom areas provided rich soil deposits that make Smyth County a historically significant agricultural area.  The names of the valleys reflect the agricultural use of the county. Rich Valley to the north is so named for it’s rich soil and the Rye Valley to the south is named for the abundant rye grasses found growing there.  Plainly stated “the oldest and most important industry of Smyth County is farming and grazing”, of which John’s upbringing was clearly engrained.

Agriculturally, Smyth County was established more as family farms than as part of the plantation system prominent in other parts of Virginia. Smyth Country was outside the limits of the “major tobacco producing district” in Virginia. This would account for the relatively low slave population of the 1860 census. Tobacco was grown before the establishment of the County but declined after the creation of Smyth.

 

 

EDUCATION

Education in this frontier was the private responsibility of the family. The wealthier families usually employed private tutors thus John’s early education was received from private instruction by tutors who were employed by the planters of the Valley.

THE CIVIL WAR

John’s school days were limited, owing to the breaking out of the Civil War. Every boy large enough to carry a musket was armed in defense of the Old Dominion. and he enlisted in the Home Guards of Virginia.

The Home Guard was any of several loosely organized militias in various states that were under the direction and authority of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

Confederate Home Guard units worked in coordination with the Confederate Army, and were tasked with both the defense of the Confederate home front during the American Civil War, as well as to help track down and capture Confederate Army deserters. The Home Guard was a type of militia for the Confederacy. It had a rank structure and did have certain regulations, whether those were enforced or not.

Home Guard units were, essentially, to be a last defense against any invading Union forces. They also were used at times to gather information about invading Union forces troop movements, as well as to identify and control any local civilians who were considered sympathetic to the Union cause. They received no military training, and although they could be drafted into the Confederate service if need be, there are only a few cases in which that happened. The Home Guard was recognized as a type of service to the Confederacy. It was often made up of older planters or others exempted from front line service. What John’s reason for exemption was can only be queried as the true reason is not known. My belief is that it could have been due to his religious beliefs as the Pierce family was mostly Quaker.

The Home Guard of Rye Valley was established in December of 1860 to patrorl and keep order in the county.  Various volunteer companies immediately began to form, including the “Smyth Blues” from Marion, the “Smyth Greys” from Rich Valley, “Jackson’s Old Division” from Seven Mile Ford, and the “Smyth Dragoons” from Marion to name a few. At this point is only my guess that John was in the “Jackson’s Old Division”.

Smyth County became and important strategic point during the war because the saltworks were the primary source of salt supply open to the Confederate Army. Salt production was carefully rationed and each state in the Confederacy had it’s own furnace.

AFTER THE WAR

At the close of the war John went west to Illinois and was engaged in handling live stock for an English syndicate. In the 1870 Census John’s address is listed to be Cartwright, Sangamon, Illinois shortly after he was transferred to Missouri, where he built up a ranch system for his company, but, owing to the rapid settling up of the country, the ranches were sold to settlers and he moved to Clay, Atchison county, Missouri where he completed his energetic and useful life. Many acres of land he reclaimed from the wilderness and his was the hand that hewed, and broke and planted to crops much of the fertile soil he owned. He was a pioneer whose sword was beaten to a plow- share and who aided and witnessed the marvelous up-building of his commonwealth since the war between the States.

As a general farmer and stock-man he succeeded well, for he had ambition, energy and boundless industry, added to good judgment and perseverance. His broad acres, spacious farm buildings, number of farm conveniences and prosperous condition all bespeak a man of no mean ability.

John Franklin Pierce Family about 1882

He reared a large family giving them many advantages. Every comfort and convenience that could be procured was obtained for the happiness of his wife Alice. He was married, January 18, 1874, at Rockport, Missouri to Miss Alice Roena Johnson the only daughter of Daniel and Sarah (Hays) Johnson. To this union were born five sons and three daughters namely: Chas. S: Lon J., of Pittsburg, Pa; Mrs. Geneva A. Vogel of Valentine, Neb.; Venus V., Zane F., Reno M., Mrs. Charlotte M Raubach, of Valentine, Neb., and Sallie D.

John was among  those sterling men who came west in an early day, virile and strong in mind and body, and built up the country by developing its God-given resource-a direct opposite of so many young men of today, full of schemes for easy living, regardless of their work in the world.

In character he was kind, sympathetic and nearly always cheerful, with and honor that was unimpeachable. Truly, his greatest legacy to his children was what he was and not what he possessed.

At the time of his death he was the grandfather to two grandchildren – Donald W. Pierce and Iva Mae Vogel. Several more were to follow namely: Barbara Mai, and Sara Ann Pierce, Venus John, Clifford Wayne, Cecil Lon, and Jaunita “Carol” Marie Pierce, Thelma Maxine and Reno Eugene, Pierce, Pierce Raubach, Charles, Harold, and Alice Buell.

The Family and Friends of John F. Pierce were shocked to learn of his sudden passing away on the afternoon of August 11, 1910. He had been sick only a few hours for this reason the flow fell heavily upon them.

Elder D.M. Philippi conducted the funeral  services and interment at the  Hunter cemetery south of Rockport, Missouri.

 

If you are a relative or just have more information on John Franklin Pierce to add to this post please leave me a comment in the comment section below.

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian

 

Venus Vern Pierce- Missouri Farm Boy

Rockport Missouri in the 1800s

Missouri in the 1880s

During the 20th century, Missouri’s economy diversified, and it developed a balanced agricultural and economic sector. By the 21st century manufacturing was fading, as service industries grew, especially in medicine, education and tourism. Agriculture remained profitable, as the farms grew larger and fewer people lived on them. During this time a Missouri farm boy thrived.

The Missouri economy grew steadily from the end of the war Civil War to the early 20th century. Railroads replaced the rivers, trains supplanted steamboats. From 817 miles of track in 1860, there were 2000 miles in 1870 and 8000 by 1909. Railroads built new towns as needed to provide repair and service facilities; the old river towns decline. Kansas City lacking a navigable river, became the rail center of the West, exploding from 4400 population 1860 to 133,000 by 1890. Cities of all sizes grew, as the proportion of Missourians living in communities over 2000 population jumped from 17 percent in 1860, to 38 percent in 1900. Coal mining providing the locomotives, factories, stores and homes with fuel, grew rapidly, as did the lumbering industry in the Ozarks which provided the timber for cross ties and smaller bridges. St. Louis remained the number one railroad center, unloading 21,000 carloads of merchandise in 1870, 324,000 in 1890, and 710,000 in 1910. The total tonnage of freight carried on all Missouri railroads doubled and redoubled again from 20 million tons in 1881 to 130 million in 1904.[178]

Despite the growth brought by the railroads and new techniques, Missouri continued to undergo urbanization during the late 19th century. Labor-saving devices such as the sulky plow, corn planter, mower, and reaper made most farm laborers more productive, with a surplus moving to town. In addition, the competition brought by the railroad generally caused a decline in farm prices after 1873; in 1874, a bushel of Missouri corn sold for 67 cents, but its price dropped to 24 cents in 1875 and remained in the 20 to 40 cent range for most of the 1870s and 1880s. As a result, although the acreage of Missouri farmland had increased from 1870 to 1880, the value of crops produced saw a decline from $103 million to slightly less than $96 million in the same period.[193]

A FARMER WAS BORN

Venus Vern Pierce
29 Dec 1882
Rockport, Missouri

It was during this time that my grandfather, Venus Vern Pierce was born on a farm south of Rockport, Missouri, to John Franklin Pierce and Alice Roena (Johnson) Pierce. He was the third son and the fifth child of eight being born December 29, 1882.

Of his schooling and early days I know very little but can only assume that he grew up learning hard work and little play and I believe that schooling was a part of his upbringing, as it appears from what I have learned that even through the hard times his parents flourished and prospered.  His father, a pioneer having reclaimed from wilderness by his own hands hewed, and broke and planted to crops much of the fertile soil that he owned. They lived on a spacious farm and had all the conveniences and advantages that his parents could procure for the happiness of their family.

 

 

In response to declining prices and opportunities for new scientific methods farmers began forming chapters of The Grange. Oliver Hudson, a U.S. Bureau of Agriculture employee, formed the first Missouri Grange chapter in 1870, and by 1875, Missouri led the nation with over 2,000 chapters. In addition to organizing social events for farmers and their wives, the Grange organized them economically by creating trade fairs and collective sales of farm produce, and the group opened no fewer than eight cooperative stores where goods could be bought at reasonable prices by Grange members. Grange stores operated in several market towns[194]

 

After significant declines during the 1880s, land prices recovered slightly during the 1890s, although the market remained unstable and largely dependent on the particulars of the farm. 

The late 19th century was a time of continuity in terms of crops produced in Missouri, with the majority of acreage given to the production of corn and wheat. In 1900, farmers devoted more than 7.5 million acres (of nearly 23 million total) to corn, although yields declined overall as less productive and fertile land was brought into use. Most corn in Missouri also was consumed in the state by livestock, and hay and pasture land for livestock made up 10.5 million acres of farmland in 1900. Livestock income provided 55% of farm income in 1900, or roughly $142 million.[196]

The 1900 Census shows Venus still living at home with his parents, but soon after he set out on his own.My grandmother revealed to me that that Venus was young when he started farming, and that he  borrowed money and bought a pair of mules and a few pieces of walking machinery. I am assuming that this would be his move to Nebraska. She told that he bought a farm and worked diligently hard to keep it. One night he came home from town and found the farm on fire. He lost everything he had.

In 1908 he is found living in Antelope, Nebraska, apparently having gone there with his sister Lottie, who met her husband in Brunswick and later married him in Valentine, Nebraska. I almost fell off of my chair when I learned that here at the age of 24 he married a Miss Lucy Grubbs 18, at Plainview.  This marriage was a complete surprise to the family as no one had ever spoken of it.  After some research I found that Lucy had been married several times after this but do not know of what the reason for the split was and have not found anything about divorce.

The 1910 Census shows that Venus was again at home in Missouri but nothing is listed as to his occupation. A newspaper article found from June 10, 1910 reveals that he was a pioneer homesteader in the Valentine, Nebraska area as was his sister Geneva and her husband, and his sister Lottie was also living there. Venus’ father died in August of that year and his mother died the next year.

He went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he got a job at the Pittsburgh Glass Co. as a superintendent over a large group of men. He worked hard here for several years. I am going to guess that his older brother Lonnie played a role in helping him attain work here as Lonnie lived and worked at a Glass Company in Pennsylvania for most of his working years.

In 1912 Venus inherited 2,500 dollars from his parents after they passed away. With this money he moved to Ashland, Nebraska and bought a farm with 80 acres of land, south east of Ashland. He also bought his machinery and stock with this money. Just down the road lived the Blum family. They often times held dances at their place in which Venus would attend. He became particularly interested in Louise Blum but she would have nothing to do with him and he turned his attention to her sister Marie. Venus and Miss Anna Mariea Blum were married September 22, 1915 in a quiet ceremony at the home of the German Evangelical minister in Ashland and set up housekeeping at the home Venus had prepared.

In 1917, Venus sold his land in Ashland and moved to a Crab Orchard, Nebraska where the couple welcomed their

Johnny and Cliff about 1926

first born, Venus John (Johnny) on February 22, 1918. He bought and sold land many times was a good business man and generally made a fair profit. Grandmother Marie said she moved 22 times  during her marriage and all to places of ill repair, and almost always by wagon or hay rack. As soon as she would get the place in livable condition, Venus would sell and they would move again. The couple had a second son born April 26, 1921 at their home in Liberty,  and was named Clifford Wayne.

Much was happening in the United States in the 20’s. With the advancement of technology, travel in the way of vehicles and air flight, electricity, telephones and radios being installed in most homes, life only could appear to be better than what it had been in the past. Also came prohibition that opened up speak easies and gave way to gangsters. Free movies on the city and town streets for all to watch.  More roads were being opened up to make travel much easier. The invention of penicillin. Things were looking good for the Pierce’s.

In January 1928, the 24th day Venus and Marie welcomed their third son, Cecil Pierce. He was born in Beatrice, Nebraska, the first of the children to be born in a hospital.  Then in 1929 the crash of Wall street started the beginning of the great depression in the Midwest.  Venus’ brother Reno, was out of a job that year and he and his wife and two children came to stay with them as Marie felt she could use the extra help with a new baby coming in December.  They had a pig they butchered, the potatoes were only small from the garden so they cooked them with the jackets on.  Johnny and Cliff, along with Reno’s daughters, Thelma and Gene, took bean sandwiches to school for lunch.

Venus and Marie Pierce Family 1928

On Christmas day 1929 Venus and Marie sent Johnny and Cliff out to go hunting with the neighbor kids. They got cold and started a fire to keep warm and ended up  burning a pasture so all of the neighbors were called out to put the fire out.

When Johnny and Cliff got back to the house they found they had a baby sister.

Their only daughter and the last of the children  was named Juanita Marie…though she was always called Carol. Christmas Carol.

Venus was basically a happy man, hard working, and well respected.  He was known to joke and tease, yet he was a worrier, a trait that was  passed down to his son Cecil and on to some Cecil’s children. (again I wonder, dna or upbringing)  He was a good business man and was great with figures. He could figure a long list of numbers in his head and was always figuring something. His hand were rough and calloused with nicks and cuts for all his hard work. He and Marie would cut wood with a cross saw and sell big wagon loads of it for 2 dollars a load. He would deliver the wood in the winter when it was so cold that he would walk next to the horses in order to keep warm. He started out early in the mornings to plow the fields. Before he left he would carry in buckets of water for Marie so that she would have enough for the babies while he was gone.  Marie would take him a fresh team of horses in the middle of the morning. Carol remembers sitting in the corner of the wagon while he and Marie, and the boys would pick corn. They all worked very hard to keep the farm going. .

Carol remembers cutting cockle burrs with her brother Cec and her dad, one row at a time. Venus would tell them, “We are getting them.” and encourage them to keep going. They were hot and thirsty and not very happy with the project.

Venus was not a drinker according to his daughter Carol. He just didn’t handle it well. She remembers one time that he had a bit too much to drink and he was outside in the yard getting sick and Marie took a bucket of water out and poured it on his head. She didn’t like it when he drank, as her father was a bit of a lush and she had grown up with the effects.

Johnny left home at quite a young age and went to live for a time with Marie’s brother Bill. No one really knows the reason why though I’ve asked a few times.

When Cliff was 12 he won a pony race at celebration in Reynolds and was noticed by a couple from California. They convinced Venus to let Cliff go with them to California and contracted him as a jockey in San Diego. Mrs. Presnell promised Marie that she would look after him and care for him as her own. Venus and Marie followed closely the

1940 Cliff Pierce Jockey

career of their son as he was soon recognized as an up and coming jockey.

WWII took both of the older boys off to war and Cecil and Carol were left at home to help with the farm work.

WWII veterans Venus John and Clifford W Pierce

Early one morning at breakfast, they sit down at the table for their morning meal of pancakes. Venus dropped his fork and his eyes became fixed in an empty stare.  He had begun the process of getting the rest of his teeth pulled, when he had this first stroke. Marie took great care of him as he couldn’t talk.  For a couple of days he kept trying to ask them something, Finally they figured out he was wondering if their home in Belvedere, Nebraska was 2 or 3 lots. Carol remembers shaving him after they would get him up and get him in a chair. Cecil would only say that it was terrible. Marie would wash the linens everyday and hang them out to dry.  His second stroke came three months later, and he slept in a coma for a day and a night. He died at home Jun. 6, 1948, in Reynolds, Jefferson County, Nebraska. age 64 years and 6 months. At the time of his death he owned 400 acres, a store, and a restaurant.

Johnny didn’t want Venus to be buried in the Reynolds cemetery as it was always grown up with weeds and Venus had fought weeds on his farms all of his years, so plans were made for burial in Fairbury, Nebraska.

The Pierce Boys about 1943

At the time of his death Venus John and Clifford were married. John was married to Dean Zierenburg and Clifford married to Barbara Dowe.

One year after his death his daughter Carol married Paul McKenzie and 3 years after his death his son Cecil married Peggy Nutsch. Venus left his land to his three sons and his daughter and the store and restaurant to Clifford, which was destroyed a year later in 1949 by a tornado.

Marie was a young widow. She lived for a time with Johnny and Dean until she moved to Omaha and lived with her brother Martin for several years. After Martin remarried, Marie moved to a trailer in Murdock, Nebraska across the street from her brother Bill. When she no longer felt she could live on her own she moved to a senior living community in Omaha until the time of her death in 1984.

 

As always thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the story of Venus. If you are someone that has anything to add to this story please leave me a message in the comment section as not only would I love to hear it, I’d love to add it!

Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian

Susan Pierce Holmes

 

 

 

 

 

Cecil L Pierce: A Shearer of Sheep

Cecil Lon Pierce
1934

Cecil Lon Pierce was born January 24 1928 in Beatrice, Gage County, Nebraska to Venus and Marie (Blum) Pierce, he was also my father and a man that I not only admired but adored. He was my hero and there was no other like him.

He was the third son to be born to Venus and Marie and the first of the children to be born in a hospital. I asked him why he was born in a hospital as the other two had been born at home. He said he didn’t know but maybe they had worry of problems. Grandmother Marie had lost a baby at 5 months prior to her pregnancy with Cecil. She thought it was caused from riding in a buck board wagon.

Growing up on a farm  in rural Nebraska was hard as he lived through the great depression. The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in US history. It began in 1929 and did not abate until the end of the 1930s. The stock market crash of October 1929 signaled the beginning of the Great Depression. By 1933, unemployment was at 25 percent and more than 5,000 banks had gone out of business. This is only part of the story.

Farmers struggled with low prices all through the 1920s, but after 1929 things began to be hard for city workers as well. After the stock market crash, many businesses started to close or to lay off workers. Many families did not have money to buy things, and consumer demand for manufactured goods fell off. Fewer families were buying new cars or household appliances. People learned to do without new clothing. Many families could not pay their rent. Some young men left home by jumping on railroad cars in search of any job they could get. Some wondered if the United States was heading for a revolution.

During World War I, farmers worked hard to produce record crops and livestock. When prices fell they tried to produce even more to pay their debts, taxes and living expenses. In the early 1930s prices dropped so low that many farmers went bankrupt and lost their farms. In some cases, the price of a bushel of corn fell to just eight or ten cents. Some farm families began burning corn rather than coal in their stoves because corn was cheaper. Sometimes the countryside smelled like popcorn from all the corn burning in the kitchen stoves.

Daddy told me that they would collect corn cobs and sticks just to get enough food for the horses in the winter.

In some ways farmers were better off than city and town dwellers. Farmers could produce much of their own food while city residents could not. Almost all farm families raised large gardens with vegetables and canned fruit from their orchards. They had milk and cream from their dairy cattle. Chickens supplied meat and eggs. They bought flour and sugar in 50-pound sacks and baked their own bread. In some families the farm wife made clothing out of the cloth from flour and feed sacks. They learned how to get by with very little money. But they still had to pay their taxes and debts to the bank in cash.

These were tough times on the farms. There was such a surplus in 1933 that the AAA called for the destruction of some crops and livestock. But the following year, nature more than eliminated the surplus. In the plains states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, the lack of rain had dried up much of the topsoil and blow it half way across the continent. All across the Midwest severe heat and drought parched the land. Many families lost all they had and hearing of the riches in the west packed up what they had and went to California, Oregon, and Washington to find a better way. Those that stayed…struggled desperately. There was such a surplus in 1933 that the AAA called for the destruction of some crops and livestock. But the following year, nature more than eliminated the surplus. In the plains states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, the lack of rain had dried up much of the topsoil and blown it half way across the continent. In Iowa severe heat and drought parched the land.

 

Cecil was the Team Manager
Reynolds basketball team

Cecil was raised on a farm near Reynolds, Nebraska and attended country school. I asked him if he walked to school or if Grandpa took him. He told me that he and his younger sister Carol had a white pony that they would ride to school. They would tie it to a tree and somehow the pony always got loose and went home…so they would have to walk home. One day they were on their way home from school and as most horses will do…it was in a hurry to get there. When they got to the drive the pony took a sharp turn into the drive and Cecil and Carol went flying into the culvert. Grandma was so so distraught that she didn’t like the children riding the pony after that.

 

Cecil’s brother Cliff told that as a child, Cecil was a cry baby. I don’t think he ever out grew that. He had a big heart and emotions overtook him at times. When Cecil was just a toddler, Marie was dressing chickens. Back  then  they would boil large pots of water outdoors over a fire, and dunk the chickens into the pot to make the feathers easier to pluck. Cecil got a little too close to the pot and knocked the boiling water over on him. Cliff remembers him crying for days as Marie tried to console him by rocking him. Whatever treatment they used back then must have been good because he was not scarred from the accident.
ROUNDING UP THE RABBITS
Jackrabbit drives in  midwest were viewed as a battle of survival between farmers and the rabbits during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the mid 1930s. The land was plagued with hoards of  Lepus californicus melanotis, black-tailed jackrabbits. These jackrabbits were migratory and ate green plants and their roots. Adults were capable of producing three to eight offspring every 32 days.  Reminiscent of the grasshoppers 60 years earlier, the rabbits ate everything in their path. Thus, the few farmers who eeked out crops had to cope with the rabbits demolishing their livelihood.
In early years the rabbits had been a blessing to people of the Midwest as they provided a meal or two but now they had become a nuisance and the need to diminish the population was vital. They would have hunts where as the farmers would come together and surround a field and round up the rabbits by walking them to the center of the field and clubbing them. Cecil participated in one such hunt, and he said it was the most horrible brutal thing he had ever witnessed. He never did it again. Cecil had a tender heart, and it wasn’t any easy thing for him to kill an animal. We was never a hunter, but did love to fish.

While walking to school Cliff and Cecil decided to stop and check some traps that Cliff had set out. There was a skunk in the trap and they both got sprayed. When they got to school the teacher sent them home as the smell was too bad for anyone to take.

Cecil went to Reynolds High School, in Reynolds, Nebraska and graduated in the 1945-46 school year. He was not able to participate in sports due to the work he was required to do at home on the farm. All he knew growing up was work. They worked hard to keep things going. He never acquired hobbies as some do as his whole life revolved around hard work .His father Venus Vern Pierce died of a stroke in 1948. At that time his brother John came back and took over the farm and Cecil became a laborer on the farm. Even his mother told that it was not right what Johnny did but for some reason nothing was done about it.

I asked Cecil what was the naughtiest thing he ever did as a child? He laughed and then recalled that his mother had a big beautiful rooster on the farm, and though it was a beauty, it was mean and would attack him every time he walked across the yard. He was only about seven or eight years old, and he hated that rooster. One day he picked up a sie and when the rooster came at him he clobbered him with it. He thought he had killed it and he knew his mom was going to tan his hide for it. He picked the dead carcass up and laid it in the manger in the barn and waited to be found out! He said the next morning to his surprise the rooster was alive and well. It had come back from the dead but it never messed with him after that.
Another time he was playing with matches in the out house and started the outhouse on fire. He got a lickin for that one.
He said he had an old pocket watch that didn’t work, and he was playing around the well. He looked down into the well hole and saw all the gears turning in it and he just wondered what would happen if he dropped the watch down in there. So, he let go of it and down it went, getting hung up in the gears of the well, and the pump quit working. He said he never told anyone, and nothing was ever said about it but he was sure he had been the reason for the well needing to be fixed.

When WWII struck the United States, Cecil’s brothers Johnny and Cliff were drafted, and Cecil stayed home and took care of the farm with his father.

Cecil served in the National Guard for twelve years and was a Lance Corporal. He was part of the 353rd Military Police Co., in Fairbury, NE.  The personnel was composed of men from four counties — Jefferson, Thayer, Gage and Nuckolls– with the majority of the members being farmers from Jefferson county. The majority of the members went to Fort Leonard Wood, MO., for two weeks summer training. Company C was organize in 1948 when five officers and four enlisted men met in Fairbury with Major Carl Goering and began organizing a reserve unit in the city.

 

Cecil Pierce 194

On Feb 24, 1949 the first unit was formed, transferring Co. C, 310th Military Police Battalion from Omaha to Fairbury. It was this small group who foresaw an organized company of trained cadre should an emergency ever come.

National Guard
1948

Co. C was organised with Capt. Michael J Schmal named commanding officer. Their first summer field training at Camp McCoy, Wis., was in 1951. On April 19, 1952, when the 319th Battalion was deactivated the Fairbury unit survived the Army reorganization. This was the year the 320th Military Police Co. was transferred to Fairbury.

Following the summer field training at Camp McCoy , Col Hardin Sweeny, chief of the Nebraska Military District, and Col. Harry Baker, Nebraska senior Army instructor visited the local unit. It was then decided by the Nebraska Military District to transfer the 320th MP Co to Omaha and the 353rd MP Co. to Fairbury.

This was done Oct 10 1952–making the Fairbury unit in a class with pay every Wednesday night and a possible strength of six officer and 212 enlisted men. Cecil is among those listed on the 1953 roster. His rank was Lance Corporal.

Cecil met Peggy Nutsch from Haddam, Kansas at a dance, and after Peggy graduated from high school, they were married on the 24th of May, 1953 at the Four Square Church in Fairbury, Nebraska. It was a private ceremony with only their parents in attendance.

Cecil and Peggy Pierce
1953-2015

Peggy was a young 16 years old, a naive little farm girl from Haddam, Kansas. They moved in with Cecil’s mother Marie west and north of Reynolds. Shortly after their marriage, Peggy went with her parents to Wichita for a day. They got back late and Peggy stayed the night at her parents and they took her back to Reynolds the next day. Marie asked Cecil where Peggy was and he said he didn’t know. (He knew.) When Peggy came home Cecil’s brother Johnny came and gave her holey hell about leaving, as Marie (Cecil’s mother) had gone to Johnny and told him that she had left him.

John, Cliff, Marie, Cecil, and Carol

Johnny often bossed Cecil and not in a nice way.  There were times he would come to the house especially early in the mornings and come right into their bedroom and scream at Cecil to get up! Even with all the problems that Cecil dealt with with his brother Johnny, in his late years Cecil made that comment that he had been blessed with the best of brothers.  He never spoke ill of any of his siblings, or anyone else for that matter.

After this incident Cecil and Peggy made the decision that something had to change, and they moved to his brother Cliffs house south of Reynolds, as Cliff and his wife Barb were in California.

The couple went to Blair, Nebraska where Cecil had found work for awhile before they moved to a farm that Cecil bought with money he inherited from his father just north Hubbell, Nebraska, and farmed it for about five years. It was on this farm that Peggy and Cecil begin their family. In 1954 Feb. 22 their first daughter, Charline Lynnette Pierce was born in Hebron, Ne., coincidentally on the birthday of Cecil’s brother Johnny’s birthday. For years we always went to Uncle Johnny’s to celebrate the birthdays together.

Cecil Pierce Shearing

On the farm Cecil and Peggy had sheep and cattle as well as fields of crops and pasture. They found it difficult to find someone to shear when the time came so Cecil bought the equipment needed to do it himself and a new career came from it. He was a very good sheep shearer, self taught. He  traveled all over the mid-west, and was very well known for his talent. He could easily shear 150 head a day. Through out his life time he made most of his living shearing and claimed that it was from that income that he raised his children.

On June 19, 1955 the couple welcomed their first son, Jeffery Daniel Pierce to their family, also born in Hebron, Nebraska.

In 1956, the farm crops looked very good, but nature took it’s toll and all of the crop was lost due to hail and grasshoppers.  They were expecting their third child when they packed up that fall and traveled to Oregon where Peggy’s brother Jack was working. The Land of Milk and Honey!  Cecil obtained work as a welders helper on the ships in Portland, and they lived in an apartment in St. Helens.  In December, the 8th day, the sun was shining brightly when Peggy gave birth to their third child around noon.  When she left the hospital that evening with their new baby daughter, Susan Annette (myself), it was snowing big white flakes. The hospital bill was 98 dollars and it had to be paid before they left.  Joke was that they left Oregon without ever paying the doctor bill for the birth so I was to be on alert for repossession.  Cecil worked out the winter in Oregon, and they then returned to the farm in the spring of 1957 in time for planting. On the moved back to Nebraska they were caught in a snow storm and had to spend a couple of days in the basement of a church.

On  December 13, 1958 a second son was born and was named Henry David.  Cecil then bought a farm on the county line just south of  Narka, Kansas..  They called it the county line farm as it was right on the Republic/Washington Co. lines.  Here he and Peggy raised livestock, had an orchard, and acres of crops and pasture land.  Many times he would go to Haddam and work part time at the elevator, and still continued to shear sheep while Peggy was left alone with the farm work and children to tend. She loved the country life having grown up a farm girl herself.  While on the farm in Narka, Cecil and Peggy had two more children, Angelia Gail, born August 24, 1960 and Clifford Martin, born November 28, 1962.

Cecil and Peggy had a farm auction in December of 1964, sold the farm and moved to Byron, Nebraska early in 1965 where Cecil leased a tavern and ran it for a couple of years. Often during this time Peggy would work the tavern during the day and Cecil would shear sheep or work various other jobs.  A month after their move to Byron, Andrea Rose was born on February 15, 1965.  Cecil bought an empty building on main street in Byron and moved the tavern to that building. He received a liquor license and built a big dance floor and beer garden and had dances about once a month.

Cecil and Charline
1966
Pierce Tavern
Byron, Nebraska

Still while living in Byron, Cecil and Peggy received their last two children, Matthew Lon born June 15, 1966 and Beth Marie born April 26, 1968.

After seven years in Byron, in 1971 Cecil again became restless and they sold the tavern and home and made plans to move to Mankato, Kansas where the couple purchased Dreamliner Motel.Their oldest daughter Charline, married Wayne “Dink” Snyder that year on July 21 in Hebron, Nebraska. He was the son of Kenneth “RED” and Maxine HOLMES Snyder of Superior, Nebraska and was serving as a marine during the Vietnam war and was deployed at the time. They moved the family in the September of that year to the apartment attached to the motel.

The children started the school year in Mankato in August. Jeff and Susan were sophomores in high school. They would get the children up at 3 in the morning and Cecil would drive them to the Lovewell lake where they would meet the bus and ride to school from there. It made for very long days as it would be nearly 6 in the evening before they got home.  Annie (Andrea) was only in the first grade, and would fall asleep on the bus on the way home and Susan would carry her to the car where Cecil would be waiting for the children.

This business venture turned out to be a bad investment and after a long court battle, they bought a large Victorian home in Mankato and Cecil went to work at the Dubuque Packing plant until he opened up the first private club in Jewell County, Kansas and named it the Hideaway.  He did very well here and employed his three oldest daughters, his wife and several others and after three years they sold the club, had an auction where they sold most of their belongings and moved to Missouri. By this time only the three younger children remained at home.

Jeff had started his own mechanic business in Mankato after he graduated high school in 1974, and Susan married  Jack Alcorn son of Doyle and Barbara Alcorn on May 24, 1974 one week after her high school graduation. Henry graduated high school in 1976 and went to Beloit Vo Tech before he married Kimberly Elkins, May 25, 1980. She was the daughter of Bud and Kay Elkins.   Angelia graduated high school in 1978 and married Roger Reiter on May 28, son of Arnold and Pauline Reiter.  Clifford moved to Gordon, Nebraska where he worked putting up irrigation sprinklers.

In 1979 Cecil and what was left of the family at home, moved to Jenkins, Missouri.

Cecil didn’t like it in Missouri and was not happy about anything while they were there. Their youngest son Matt didn’t like Missouri either and moved back to Mankato where he lived with his older brother Jeff and sister Angelia until he was out of high school and able to support himself.   They struggled financially, as the sale of the Hideaway was to be their retirement money, however a few months after the move the Hideaway burned to the ground and they had to fight to recover the money.  During that time Cecil did some shearing and worked a few places, but just was never satisfied.  Peggy however, loved it there and she was able to work at her crafts and have her animals and the peace and quiet of the country. They had a nice home on an acreage in the country south of Aurora, Missouri.  Cecil put the property on the market and it sold right away to their surprise.  This resulted in the decision to move back to Kansas.

He and Peggy returned to the Narka, Kansas area in 1983 and they opened a restaurant/grocery store that they ran for nearly 20 years.   They left Missouri with only their youngest child, Beth remaining.  Andrea chose to stay in Missouri and finish her last year of high school and then married Doug Wilson of Aurora.  Cecil and Peggy operated the store and for a time the gas station.  He served on the city council and even took his turn at being mayor.

Upon reaching the age of retirement, Cecil closed the store, and worked part time in the nursing home in Belleville, Kansas.  He helped out at the elevator in town during the harvest, and mowed the city grass, and did other odd jobs until he just couldn’t do anything anymore. He raised dogs for awhile then phased that out. Peggy however, continued on with dog raising right up to the day of her death in 2017.

 

Cecil passed from this life on a Monday, May 11, 2015 at the Belleville Health Care Center where he had resided for three years,  at the age of 87 years, after suffering for several years from a paralyzed colon, high blood pressure and a series of strokes. He is buried at the Union Cemetery south of Narka, Kansas.

Cecil did various other jobs over the years, but was most proud of his sheep shearing skills. He felt his biggest blessings were his children and grandchildren and was extremely proud of all of them. He could hardly speak of his son’s without tears of pride coming to his eyes. At the time of his death he and Peggy had  28 grandchildren: 42 great grandchildren’ and a number of nieces and nephews.

Cecil Pierce Family
Cecil with Jeff and Charline
1956
Cecil with a few of his Grandchildren

A Poem For Daddy 

August 21, 2010

I looked out my kitchen window
and I saw coming up the road,
an old man in an electric chair
straying not to far from home.
He comes this way most everyday
after making rounds about the town,
to share the news he’s gathered –
he starts spreading it around.
He doesn’t always get his stories straight
and he never stays too long.
He just lets you know what he thinks he heard
and then he travels on.
He’s always in his overalls
with a dirty ole cap upon his head,
and occasionally he’ll be wearing
the jelly from his bread.
Sometimes he brings along advice of
to him what just looks wrong.
Sometimes he’s just been thinking
or has a job for you to do,
or he tells you ’bout his aches and pains
and complains of his age too.
Perhaps something compells him
to share a story now and then
of something he once did
or places that he’s been.
Tears will well up in his eyes
if he speaks about his kids.
Of all the things the years have given him
he hasn’t much to show
‘cept for the son’s and daughter’s,
that’s one thing that he know’s.
Cause, they’ll throw their arms around him,
to them he’s not so bad,
and he knows they really love him
every time they call him “Dad”.

by Susan Holmes

The ESCAPE? More on the Blum Family

Today I’m going to share with you a bit more info on the Blum Family.. If you remember from the previous post on the Blums there was mention of a Carl Schurz….that little bit of information will come into play in this post.

During the Baden Rebellion, my great grandmother, Louise Moesinger Blum closely followed all news about Carl Schurz. She told her son Martin (my great uncle) that her father, George “Carl” Moesinger (b 21 Mar 1826, Germany d. 8 Jul 1866 Baden Germany) had escaped to America or South America. All of the succeeding years, Martin researched for more information about his grandfather. He scanned Schurz’s auto biography (three volumes) in hope to find a trace of him.  He felt perhaps he might find him among the civil war veterans as he was a lieutenant in the Prussian Army.

In 1983 Martin visited Germany with his brother William resolved to continue his research. He visited kin of his mother. They too believed that Carl had escaped to America, and knew nothing of grandfather.  Carl had escaped the battle ground and returned to the native village of Kondringen. Mum was the word in the village. He could carry on the business of innkeeper. His father, Johann George Moesinger was innkeeper before him and stayed on as butcher. They were relatively well to do and prosperous.

The  Inn still stands. It was built in 1550 and Rebstock was it’s name. Within a stone’s throw was the Blum home. It was built in 1814 by Andreas  “Andrew”  Blum who was born Nov 28,  1782 in Kondringen, Germany. A.B. 1814 is carved above the door. His grave stone is in the wall around the cemetery though the year of his death, April 14 1847 was not legible.  The house at that time was occupied by Martin’s first cousin Fritz Blum, his son Alfred and Alfred’s wife Emmi.

While there, in Germany, Martin visited the parsonage next to the Rebstock. There all records were complete. The parson had adequate forewarning and Martin had made clear that he wanted to know what happened to his grandfather George “Carl ” Moesinger. He had met with the preacher early in his visit and found him fully prepared. This is the day Martin learned that his grandfather was buried July 8, 1866.

“Impossible!” he exploded

Many thoughts raced through his mind as the preacher reread from the church records. ” Carl Mossinger—Rebstock innkeeper was buried July 8, 1866.

Between 1866 and 1881 were very trying years for the Mossinger (pronounced Maysinger) family. That included Martin’s grandmother Caroline (Jenne) Mossinger (b 16 Aug 1822 Germany d. 4 Jun 1905 South Bend, Nebraska) , great grandfather, perhaps his uncle Adolf who was 18 years of age in 1866, and successively the younger children, Aunt Minnie, Aunt Caroline, Uncle Gustav, Uncle Emil and his mother , Louise, who was six years old.

The family was literally held hostage. The Rebstock was commandeered for the purpose of spreading the net for the capture of Carl. At Carl’s disappearance his wife  most fervently hoped and prayed for his successful escape. It would have been simple to escape into Switzerland as many other had escaped before including Carl Schurz of whom I have written earlier. It was even possible to escape into France which required crossing the Rhine River.

In 1866 Prussia was at war with Austria. Carl could have reached Austria through Wurttemberg whose provincial king sided with Austria.

The family hated and mistrusted the military people who occupied the whole second floor of the Inn. They made the second larger room upstairs a court room. It is reasonable to expect that the family may not have believed reports that Carl was slain.

Profits fell from the first floor of the inn and also from the slaughter house and meat market. This property was adjacent to the inn and operated by Carl’s father Johann. Taxes were immediately raised as the grand duke was out to confiscate the property obviously.

In 1867, foreclosure was begun. Naturally, court house records make the foreclosure appear like an ordinary foreclosure. Those records unmistakably reveal the occupation of the inn entrance and the second floor by the military.

In 1870, Prussia was at war with France. The proximity of the Rhine, the border between the two countries, caused all people on both sides constant fear and concern.

In 1881, a buyer was found for all the property including that of Johann Mossinger. Louise at the age of 21 emigrated from Germany.

The first chapter of our Blum/Mossinger family history may be concluded at this point.

However one point is missing…how did Andrew Blum get to America? He never dwelt on the past. His was a three word slogan, “ALWAYS STRAIGHT AHEAD.” Hence, he never dwelt on the past. Martin looked at records kept by the Mormon Church for clues.  All he could offer was a guess that his dad boarded a steamer in Europe and stoked coal in those fires that generated the steam for motors to propel the ship. We much recall that Andrew had a strong well muscled back.  Polk’s city directories list him as a maltster for breweries in Council Bluffs and Omaha. (since Martins visit to Germany ship records have been found)

He had worked in Cincinnati brewers and New York as he migrated westward. That he was physically able to fire steamer engines we are certain.

In 1900 Andrew saw an 80 acre farm near South Bend, Nebraska. The plentiful water, the fruit trees, the grape vinyard, even the hills were too much for him. Nostalgia and sentiment carried him back to his native Baden home. He had always claimed South Dakota was too like a soap bubble. You could have a bumper crop in the fields to be “burst” by hail, drought and grasshopper. He parted with his sheep, two 160 acre tracts in South Dakota, at a loss,  and brought his family to Nebraska.

In the summer of 1935, at the age of 84, he still hoed his vineyard. He used a nigger hoe which was heavier and larger than our common hoe. That hoe derived it’s name because purportedly slaves were forced to use them in cotton and tobacco fields.

The day that Martin and his brother William “Bill” were in the parsonage, Martin mentioned that according to legend Carl Schurz had frequently visited the Rebstock. The pastor instantly recognized that he had a newsworthy story. Carl Schurz is now propagandized as a heoic ‘freedom fighter.” We are told that military establishments are now named after him.

As a result, Bill and Martin were photographed on the steps to the parsonage. A newspaper article was written in the Freiburg newspaper with their pictures.

Blum Brothers in Germany

The paper reads:

In the years from 1852 till 1875 the population of Kondringen has dropped about 120 people. The miseries in the country , the people’s wishes of adventure, and political aspects were the reasons why many men and women left their home and went to the USA. Tow of the people who wanted to find a happines in the USA were Andreas Blum and Louise Mosinger. They went to the USA in 1876. Two of their sons were in Germany recently to visit their relations and to look for the home of their parent; William Blum, 85 years old (left side) farmer in Plattsmouth, Nebraska and Martin Blum, 78 years old, a trader of houses and fields in Omaha, Nebraska. In spite of being very old the two men have a very good health. During their holiday they visited the house of the Parson to look in the old books of the church to see if they can find some dates of their relations. Both are speaking more or less good German lanuage. As they told, their mother lived in the Rebstock. Their parent told them from the famous “fighter for liberty” Carl Schurz who visited the Rebstock very often. Carl Schurz was together with Hecker and Sturve one of the main famous people in the revolution of 1848/49.

(translation of Martina from Kondringen)

Martin Blum
1905–1989
BIRTH 8 MAR 1905 • South Bend, Nebraska
DEATH 7 JAN 1989 • Omaha, Nebraska

Special Thank You to my great uncle Martin Blum for having the foresight to save what he knew about the family and hand it down to someone who cares to keep the History alive for generations to come.

I hope you are all enjoying the history. If yes, leave me a message. If you have information that I’m not aware of please share with me as I share with you!

Thanks for reading!

Happy Hunting!

Your Pierce (and Blum) family Historian

Susan Pierce Holmes!

 

 

I AM A PIERCE -The Importance of Heredity

The more we know and learn about our ancestors and their characteristics the more we learn about ourselves and
what makes us who we are. Just as DNA is handed down to us, it plays only part of the role in our heredity. The importance of heredity and knowing where we come from pops up in our everyday lives way more often than one might think. What personal characteristics do you feel have been handed down to you? The closer you examine the lives of your ancestors the more you will know yourself.

HEREDITY: the definition

1. a. the transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring by means of genes in the chromosomes

b. the tendency of offspring to resemble parents or ancestors through such transmission
2. all the characteristics inherited genetically by an individual
he·red·i·ty
həˈredədē/
noun
“few scientists dispute that heredity can create a susceptibility to alcoholism”
synonyms: congenital traits, genetic makeup, genes;

2.inheritance of title, office, or right.

“membership is largely based on heredity”

WHAT  DOES THIS MEAN IN RELATIONSHIP TO OUR ANCESTRY?

This speaks mostly of our inherited  DNA  make up. Though our DNA has much to do with our make up what role does parenting, environmental, and upbringing have to do with it.  Getting to know your ancestors on a more personal level may give you some insights to your own personality and why you are the way you are.

For instance…I am a PIERCE. Sure my DNA has been handed down to me, but what does that have to do with my drinking, the way I eat, my emotions, or how I handle day to day living. The more we know about DNA and how it makes up who we are the more and more it is evident that some of the habits of our ancestors have been handed down to us for centuries. Is there anything we can do about it? Or must we just accept that it’s in our makeup and we much learn to live with it.

I once had a conversation with my doctor concerning my lack of ability to control my emotions. I hate that the slightest things make me cry. I worry over EVERYTHING. I don’t handle confrontation well at all. I can’t fight back because I feel the tears will flow if I try to speak. I struggle constantly to overcome depression.

My dad was that way. I inherited the worry gene from him or at least he’s the one I blame. The doctor told me that this is a learned behavior and that I could overcome it with practice…rather unlearn it. Yet when you look back at my life since birth…my mother says I was born that way. I was a cry baby from day one. It was a family joke and they used it to pick on me even at a young age.

Let’s take a look at this phrase from our definition of heredity; “few scientists dispute that heredity can create a susceptibility to alcoholism”. 

My mom always claimed that all the Pierce’s were alcoholics, and yes…most of us like our drink, and we drink until we get drunk and we love to party . It’s in our genetic make up. Look what I found in searching for my ancestors!

 

Alexander Pierce
1814–1899
BIRTH 7 MAY 1814 • Sugar Grove, smyth, Virginia, United States
DEATH 17 APR 1899 • Sugar Grove, Smyth, Virginia, United States
2nd great-grandfather

 

Alexander Pierce, was my second great grandfather. Apparently he didn’t have an  objection to the drink. This doesn’t tell me he was an alcoholic, but makes ya wonder???

Besides worry, my dad was a drinker, and he used the worry as an excuse to drink. He would think up reasons to worry so he could drink. When talking to my uncle about my dad I was told also that when growing up …he too was a cry baby. So is my behavior learned or  inherited?

 

This was written in the obituary of my second great grandmother Sarah Ann Hays/Hayes:

Sarah Ann Hayes
1827–1905
BIRTH 15 FEB 1827 • Jefferson Co. In.
DEATH 2 OCT 1905 • Hunter Cemetry Atchison County, Rockport, Missouri
2nd great-grandmother

“Aunt Sallie Johnson was known to everybody in the vicinity of Rock Port-known to be kind hearted and good though eccentric-best liked by those who understood her best.”

The definition of eccentric:

noun
                              “he enjoys a colorful reputation as an engaging eccentric”

oddity, odd fellow, characterindividualistindividualfree spirit;

A quote I especially like is: The difference between eccentric and crazy is in  how much money you have. Rich people are eccentric..poor people are crazy!

Does this in fact explain some of the craziness we find in our family? Is it handed down by DNA or simply the parenting and environmental aspects of our upbringing? Is this a reason that I am the way I am? Certainly makes me want to know more about Sarah Ann Hayes/ Johnson.

 

My grandpa, Henry A. Nutsch, was about the smartest, wisest man I have ever known. He had such wisdom when it came to life in all aspects. If he didn’t know how to do something he would find some one who could or learn to do it himself. He seldom got excited and took life as it came. One of his sayings was “if you can’t get along with someone give them a good lettin alone.” 

Henry Nutsch and Alta McCollum
My grandmother, on the other hand, I wouldn’t say was excitable, but she wasn’t someone you wanted to be on the wrong side of and could hold a grudge for a very long time. You might say she was “sensitive”.

My mom was a bit of both. She could make even the strongest of men squirm if she wanted to but also had the attitude that if you can do something about it …do it…if not, let it go.  She had quick wit and almost always the last word.

The Nutsch and McCollums were creative, hard working, very talented, and artist people.  Is that DNA or upbringing?

It was said of my great grandpa BLUM that he had a strong well muscled back and that he did not like to look back at the past. His motto was “ALWAYS FORWARD!” Was it DNA that gave him that back or was it the hard work he had to do to get him where he had to go? I certainly did not inherit that! or was it my environment?

IN SUMMARY

I guess, in summary, I hope to have given you some things to consider when searching for your ancestry. Get to know your ancestors and in a sense you will get to know yourself. Can you even begin to imagine when you put all these factors together how we become who we are? Is it DNA or upbringing, or a combination?

What are your thoughts? Share with me where you think you come from in your family tree? Thanks for reading and come back soon!

If you are a cousin no matter how distant, do say hello! Family is Family!

Happy hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian

Susan Pierce Holmes

LOOKING FOR CLUES- Your Research

When you first get started in your search for family you will most like be going off word of mouth from other family relation, but as you get deeper into your lineage you will begin looking for clues in every thing you come across. I’m going to show you a few ways to become a detective when you are looking for clues.

BRINGING OUT THE DETECTIVE

Looking through old family letters just might give you tons of clues. Here is an example of one I have read over and over. Each time a new clue seems to pop out at me. It’s probably one of the most favorite in my collection as there is so much to question, also a perfect example as to things to look for.

Not only is it interesting to read…it is full of things to consider.

  • How many questions come up for you as you read through this?
  • What stands out especially?
  • Where would you go from here?

 

 

LOOKING FOR CLUES

Now is the time for the questions to hit you. I’m going to point out to you some of the clues I have gotten from this letter.

First take a look at the heading.

Translated from German in 1933 by a Lutheran minister. Does this give us a clue that the person writing it or perhaps the family is Lutheran?

We received the original letter from my husband’s Uncle Pius Bloom. 

Would you search for Pius Bloom in Fostoria, Ohio?

Her husbands uncle? So who was her husband?

We know from this he was the Grandson of William Blum.

Where and when did the name change from Blum to Bloom?

The letter was written in 1854.  This gives us a timeline to look for.  Fremont? Is there a Fremont, Ohio?

The Dear Parents, brothers, and sisters is another clue as to whom the letter was to. He apparently still had brothers and sisters as well as his parents in Germany.  So we search for William’s parents and siblings to find our answers.

Who was brother “WILL”? Further down in the paragraph is the reference to Uncle Will! Another clue that there is a brother Will, and an Uncle Will.

We also learn from this paragraph that he traveled from New York to Erie. Could this be a clue as to where to start our search?

Who is this Inn Keeper? Is it a friend or relative? Should it be something investigated? The Inn Keeper is in Baden…another clue as to location.

Now on page two we see that they are to travel to New York and stay at the German Inn. Too bad we don’t know the location of that, but one might be able to find it by searching directories.  Wouldn’t we love to see the telegraph with the name of the ship and captain.  Did you know they would be able to cook on the ship? We see here that Wilhelm will be picking them up. Is this Uncle Will? Who is Friedrich Keller? A friend? a relative?

Here it says brother Wilhelm.  Brother of the Father?

AHH a clue to where Fremont is…Sandusky County.

Rosina? a wife, a sister, a neighbor, a relative?

Friedrich Keller”s address. Lets check that out with a search. Remember we are searching in the year 1854. What were the conditions at that time?

Now this last paragraph on page 2  gives us all kinds of info to wonder about.  Are these people friends? or family? Many times family married neighbors…it’s always something to check out, and it greatly adds to your story.

Here we have more names to query. In my search I find that Pius Bloom was the son of Charles A Bloom who married Elizabeth Danker, and Charles was the son of William Blum.  Also now we have information that Elizabeth  was employed by Jacob Taur in Buschenfingen.

SAVE THE LETTER!

So, you can see just from reading through an old letter how much information can be gained. SAVE the letters as you never know when you might want to go back and read them.

I scan all of my letters and put them in the gallery in my tree under the names of who wrote them, who they were written too, and if anyone is mentioned in the letter I save it there also. Then I put them in a plastic sleeve and store them in three ring binder with the authors info.

I hope this gives you a bit of insight into where to look for clues, and perhaps it will stir up a bit of the detective in you also! If it helped you at all please leave me a comment and I’m open always for questions!

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian

FINDING YOUR FAMILY TREE WITH DNA

ANCESTRY DNA REVIEW

IS IT REALLY THE BEST?

Probably the most common or most well known of the DNA providers is AncestryDNA.com . I did a little survey  among my friends to see how many have had their DNA tested and what companies they used and how they felt about the results they got back. Like everything I suppose,some were very pleased and some were not. Finding your family tree with DNA is becoming most popular among the common public.

 

AncestryDNA is a simple saliva test you can do in the comfort of your own home. Once you order, you will receive the AncestryDNA kit in the mail. Your DNA kit includes full instructions, a saliva collection tube, and a pre-paid return mailer.  After returning your sample by just dropping it in the mail, your DNA is processed at the lab. You then receive an email notifying you that your results are ready to explore on the AncestryDNA website.

AncestryDNA claims that they can help estimate your origins to more than 350 regions around the world-
2X MORE GEOGRAPHIC DETAIL than any other DNA test.

In doing my research I believe there are other DNA test available that are more detailed than what you get with AncestryDNA. Do your research and you might find that  you get what you pay for.

 

Now it’s possible to follow your ancestors’ journeys from the old world to the new with DNA testing. AncestryDNA  test tell more than 190 migration stories, so you can find out if your family is Pennsylvania Dutch or Louisiana Acadian—and even when they likely reached American shores.

 

Who are your people?
You’ll also be connected to living relatives who share parts of your DNA. And since Ancestry has the unique ability to bring together DNA results with 1 million family trees and billions of historical records, they can also help you fill in pieces of your family history.

 

How does AncestryDNA find your story?

They amassed a diverse DNA collection, so they can use the latest science to compare your DNA to people all over the world—from small tribes in Africa to farmers in the Irish countryside.

How secure and private is AncestryDNA?

Ancestry uses industry standard security practices to store your DNA sample, your DNA test results, and other personal data you provide. In addition, they store your DNA test results and DNA sample without your name or other common identifying informations. You own your DNA data. At any time, you can choose to download raw DNA data, have them delete your DNA test results as described in the AncestryDNA Privacy Statement, or have them destroy your physical DNA saliva sample. They do not share with third parties your name or other common identifying information linked to your genetic data, except as legally required or with your explicit consent. For more information on privacy at AncestryDNA, see the AncestryDNA PrivacyStatement and visit the Privacy Center.

Your AncestryDNA results include information about your ethnicity across 350 regions and identifies potential relatives through DNA matching to others who have taken the AncestryDNA test. Your results are a great starting point for more family history research, and it can also be a way to dig even deeper into the research you’ve already done.

AncestryDNA as the leader in DNA testing for family history also includes more than 10 million people who have taken the AncestryDNA test as well as the ability to access Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource, which includes millions of family trees and over 20 billion historical records.

PROS:

  • they have specials, discounts, are are affordable for the average person.
  • they have a HUGE data base to match you to
  • they are able to connect you to over 100,000,000 trees

CONS:

  • some question the accuracy of the DNA results they have received
  • they do not test for y chromosome that is needed for paternal lineage
  • you must have a membership to review and research matches

BUT ARE THEY THE BEST?

You have to decide which is the best for you. Are they the best? I believe that they were among the FIRST, so therefore they are the most well known, but I doubt they offer up the BEST.

Get your DNA test and find that family!

Please leave me a message in the comments below if you found this interesting and of value……or even if ya hated it! Just leave me a HOWDY!

Happy Hunting!

The Pierce Family Historian

 

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