Honoring Our Vets

As I take time this weekend to honor my husband’s service in Vietnam, my niece’s service in Iraq, and the rest of our nation’s veterans, I am reminded of some of my ancestors who’ve proudly served America, some giving up their lives for our freedom.

My father, Russell Dale Brown, served in World War II in the US Army Air Corps. My father-in-law, Herman Paul Amann, served in the US Army, Central Europe, in WW II. Both my grandfathers, Albert Lewis Brown and Carl Judson Huntington, served in World War I in the US Navy. My 2nd great-grandfather, William Barker, gave up his life during the Civil War serving in the New York 97th Infantry Regiment. He died at Culpeper Co. VA. in 1863. My 4th great-grandfather, Lt. Col. James F. Steen, gave up his life at King’s Mountain, NC. in 1780 so that our country, the United States of America, would remain independent of England.

So while you are enjoying a family gathering, or are camping, boating picnicking, or participating in other recreational activities this 3-day weekend, take a minute, bow your head, and give thanks to all the men and women who’ve served so bravely and honorably for our country and our freedom.

Family Reunion/Girls’ Gabfest

My sister and I have just spent the most wonderful weekend visiting with our cousin and reuniting with our childhood best friends. Now that might sound like something that others do all the time but for us, to all get together at the same time, in the same place… well, let’s just say that not seeing someone for between 14-50 years is a VERY, VERY long time indeed! (we’re not really over 50 are we?)

Logistics were the greatest problem-try getting people from Portland, OR. to Redding, Roseville, Rocklin and Burlingame, CA. all in the same place at the same time when they all have such busy lives created  quite the challenge.

It took 2 months of emails, texts and phone calls but it all came together the weekend of Oct. 2nd in Roseville. And what fun all us girls had, talking non-stop for hours, catching up on all that’s happened in our lives, and agreeing that we won’t let even another 2 years to go by before we do this again.





Lenora Belle Robinson Huntington, Where are You?

My elusive great-grandmother, better known as Nora, was last found in Jackson, MS. in 1943. So what happened to her, when did she die, where is she buried and WHY CAN’T I FIND THE ANSWERS?

Here is her timeline:

Born, Aug. 1869 Knox Co., IN.

1870, 1880 Census: living in Bicknell, Knox Co., IN.

Married Judson Bruce Huntington in Knox Co., IN. 30 Sept. 1886

1900 Census: family living in Bicknell, Knox Co., IN. 

1910 Census: family is living in Hinds Co., MS. west of Jackson on a farm (what possessed them to sell their farm and move to MS?)

1916 City Directory: 318 S. Congress St., Jackson, MS.  At this point she is listed as a widow as well as the proprietor of Logue’s Market, 123 S. President St., Jackson, MS., which narrows down when my great-grandfather died (which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish and possibly a whopper of a fish tale as well).

1920 City Directory: 850 Broadway, Indianapolis, IN.

29 Sept 1920 newspaper article: Bicknell, IN.

16 Sept 1921: newspaper article: 802 W. Fourth St., Bicknell, IN.

1929 City Directory: 927 So. Gallatin, Jackson, MS.

1932 City Directory: 955 N. President, Jackson, MS.

1936, 1937,1939 City Directories: 1603 N. West St., Jackson, MS.

1940-41 City Directory: 600 N. State St., Jackson, MS.

1943 City Directory:  795 N. President St., Jackson, MS.

In 1920, her daughter Agnes, age 22, had married a Mr. Williams, had a son, John, and was living in Bicknell, IN. Her son,  Richard Bruce, age 13, was living with Agnes. Daughter Pauline, born in 1892, disappears after the 1910 census (married in MS.???)  Daughter Julia married James Randolph Moore in 1911, had a son, Carlyn, and was living with her mother in 1930 (divorced). Son Carl was married to Marie Welte and was living in California in 1920 (my grandfather).

I believe Nora died in Jackson, but for now I have hit the proverbial genealogical brick wall.  Hinds Co., MS. cemeteries don’t list her, MS. death records don’t record her death, and I don’t find her having died in Indiana either. 

So for now I’ll put this inquiry on hold, and work on something else. I have so much quilting to finish, books to read, gardening to tend to…those should keep me busy for a while as I contemplate my next move on Nora. 

From Nebraska to Oregon to Nebraska and back

I find it almost hard to believe it’s almost September and I haven’t posted a thing since June. Where does the time go?  While I have been busy making quilts and reading away most of the summer, I have found some time recently to do a little research on some Quaker and Pilgrim ancestors. 

This all came about after I watched a History Channel story about the Mayflower (while hand quilting-have to keep the hands busy).  After watching the movie I went online, browsed the names of the Mayflower passengers and then asked my sister about her husband’s family (I thought they were on the Mayflower or Speedwell). I was off by a few years as it turns out.  My brother-in-law’s ancestors on his father’s side came to America with William Penn and the Quakers-wrong story but same principle: religious freedom.

Did this open a can of worms? Of course it did and I was off on another genealogy tangent. I started filling in the blanks on my brother-in-law’s family tree and found out his great-grandparents are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Salem, OR. just an hour or so from where he and my sister live. Now this wouldn’t be an earth-shattering discovery but since his grandparents are buried in Nebraska and his father was born in Nebraska, who would have thought his great-grandparents came to Oregon when the family was “from Nebraska”!  Well, it turns out the great-grandfather died after the family had been in Salem only 4 weeks so the widow returned to her family roots, died in Nebraska, but was buried in Salem with her husband.

I am adding this cemetery to my list of genealogy places to go next time I travel to Portland (great cemeteries in entire area, by the way).

JULIEN BRICK WALL – a new lead needed

Here’s the name and a little background information:

Joseph Adrien Julien, b. 1 Jan 1897, Saint-Augustin-de-Portneuf, Quebec, Canada.  d. 23 Jun 1988, McCloud, Siskiyou Co., CA. According to the 1930 census, he immigrated to the United States in 1918.  He married Geraldine Antoinette Byrnes around 1920, probably in the Midwest, as their first child was born around 1921 in IL.  They had 11 children.


  1. Where did he cross the border into the states, and the exact date
  2. Where did he marry, and the date
  3. Information on his first two children, Rosalind, born about 1921, IL, and Antoinette, born about 1923, IL.

Joseph’s family in Quebec was quite extensive. Maternal family names included COTE and JOBIN. Joseph’s father was a farmer, who died in 1911, leaving his mother, Marie Sophie Adriene (Jobin) to raise  5 children on her own.  Joseph was the eldest, then brother, Alphonse, and sisters Anne-Marie, M. Antoinnette, and Beatrix.


Franklyn St. LouisThis past weekend has reminded me that on Memorial Day, which used to be on May 30th, (don’t get me started on traditions, like this and “Armistice Day”!), those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country free should be mentioned by name, in order to keep their memories alive. It’s not just the relatives that we include in our family trees whom we honor, but also our friends, classmates, neighbors and even those whom we never knew.
My great, great-grandfather, William Barker, whose wife died in the spring of 1862, enlisted in the 97th Infantry Regiment out of New York in June 1862. He died just 2 months later in Culpeper, VA., on 16 Aug 1862. He left behind 7 children.
Although I never had the chance to personally know my cousin, Franklyn St. Louis (US Army, 126th Infantry Regiment), I feel that by mentioning him, he will have not died in vain. He was killed on Morotai, Palau, Indonesia, on 23 Sep 1944 while fighting the Japanese. He was one day shy of his 23rd birthday. He was buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, CA. on 12 Feb 1949, and left behind his parents, a brother, and 3 sisters, plus many aunts, uncles and cousins.
And then there are my classmates, PFC Theodore Arthur “Ted” Stampfli, , 3rd Bn, 22nd Inf, D Co., 29 Aug 1947-27 Feb 1968, and Warrant Officer Jerry Baxter, 9th Cav, 1st Sqdr, A Trp, 16 Aug 1947-27 Mar 1969, and the other local boys of Susanville, California: Spec 4 Fred French, 23rd S&T Bn, B Co., 6 Feb 1949-24 Sep 1970, PFC Jerry Jones, 3rd Bn, 12th Cav, C Co., 7 May 1948-10 Nov. 1967 and Spec 4 Earl Eugene Ford, 2nd Bn, 14th Inf, A Co., 10 Jan 1950-21 Sep 1970, who gave their lives in Vietnam. Such nice young men with so much promise, cut down in the prime of their lives. Their deaths touched the entire community of this little town, which had a population of about 5,000 at that time. Rest in Peace. We love you.

Nights are long since you went away
How I think about you all through the day
My buddy, my buddy, nobody quite so true

I miss your voice and the touch of your hand
I long to know that you understand
My buddy, my buddy, your buddy misses you


My one and only Uncle passed away yesterday at home, in Roseville, CA. His name was Allio Marino Mirtoni, but everyone knew him as “Merle”. He was 92 years, 7 months and 26 days young. I will forever carry in my heart the love he had for life, I will always see the smile on his face, feel the bear hugs he gave, smell the Manhattan cocktails he enjoyed, and will always hear in my mind the wonderful sounds of his accordion playing, something I looked forward to at every family gathering. He is with his beloved wife, Allegra, and his son Robert, now, at peace.

Time Flies…

It’s the end of April and genealogy has been the farthest thing from my mind this past month.  After a lovely visit with family in Portland, Oregon, I am now home, wondering where to begin anew in my quest for the answer to my #1 question: When did my great-grandfather, Judson Bruce Huntington, die?

Short of a trip to Jackson, Mississippi, I guess the Internet, phone calls, interlibrary loans and letter writing will have to suffice.   The good news while trying to answer THE QUESTION is that I located a great-grandson of my grandfather’s sister, who lives near Jackson, MS.  The bad news is he knows less about the family than I.  But best of all, I now have a “real” Huntington cousin descended directly from my great-grandmother. 

The search continues…

45 Years and Still No Answer

My Grandfather died in October, 1968, leaving me with a life-long hobby, my first and continuing Brick Wall, and a real life mystery to solve – one for which I still have no solution. The hobby: genealogy.  The mystery: what happened to his parents and siblings?

Sounds simple, right? Get on the Internet, locate marriage, death and cemetery records and have an answer, but unfortunately the answer is no. After years of writing letters, searching rolls of microfilm census tracts, and now scouring the Internet, I still have no answer to the mystery.  

The first revelation in the story of my Grandfather’s life came when I found out that he didn’t tell the family how old he really was (he was born in 1889, not 1893).  The second surprise was when I found out he didn’t have a “wicked step-mother, step-sisters and a half-brother” as he had always led us to believe. It turned out his parents were both alive in 1910, he had 5 sisters and 2 brothers, and he didn’t run away from home to join the navy!

Over time I have found bits and pieces of the family tree, and now have links to a Colonel who fought and died in the American Revolution, am related to a signer of the Declaration of Independence and have narrowed down a time frame for the death of my great-grandfather (between1913-1920) and great-grandmother (after 1942), but little else.  And thanks to the Internet I have located a grandson of one of my grandfather’s sisters, but unfortunately he knows less about the family than I do. 

I still chase leads and periodically review all the documents I’ve accumulated over the years, trying to figure out what I have missed or where to turn next.  To what place shall I write, what court house, library, cemetery association, archive or historical/genealogical society might have an answer, what name in a phone book might be a relative?  I won’t ever give up searching because somewhere lies the answer and maybe one day I will get that Eureka moment, when everything falls into place. One can only hope.

Knowledge & History

I came across another “first” while browsing through a 1940 census a few days ago.  While looking at information on a woman on a distant branch of my great-aunt’s family tree, this is what I found:   she lived on 12th St. in Minneapolis, MN. where most of the other people on that street were also women.  Not unusual, especially if the area consisted of boarding houses. But upon further scrutiny, I realized that this was an area of apartment buildings.  However, instead of each apartment dweller being listed as “head of household” and the other resident(s) listed as” boarder” or “roomer”, most of the additional residents per apartment were listed as “partner”.    So of course I started browsing several other pages of the census tract, my curiosity aroused.  I noticed that it was an area consisting almost exclusively of apartments.  In most, the same situation existed, 2 women, one “head” and one “partner”. I also came across listings where men were listed similarly.  Well, this started me off on an entirely new tangent – I now wanted to find out about this area of Minneapolis in 1940.

I put down my family research and started browsing the web.  First I compared a Google map of the city with the streets on my census tract to see exactly what part of Minneapolis I was researching.  Then I did an internet search about Minneapolis’ gay community in the 1940s. What I found  was that Minneapolis had a thriving openly gay community at that time.  The Gateway District, one of the oldest in the city, was the area where many gays lived and socialized in various dinner establishments and nightclubs.  I started out with a general search and came across the website www.outhistory.org, which has quite a bit of information. Also, the Minneapolis Historical Society’s Library has a number of items on the subject, including microfilm, oral histories, and books, including Evening Crowd at Kirmser’s: A Gay Life in the 1940s by Ricardo J. Brown. 

Years ago, before computers and the internet, I wouldn’t have even known about this distant person on one of my aunt’s spouse’s branches.  Every roll of microfilm, every letter written requesting information, took time and money, so I prioritized my requests, and this woman, since she was not directly related to me, would not have popped up on my radar.  Today, however, with census rolls and various other records available online and email so convenient, even the tiniest twigs on the tree can be added, and my knowledge of our collective history grows with it.