Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lunch with an Ancestor

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

I know I'm a couple of days late with this one. It took a little thought.

I would go to lunch with my cousin, Lela Carson Johnson Burge. Lela was my dad's half first cousin. Lela's mother and my grandmother were half sisters. Growing up, Lela always told us we were "distantly" related. Hah! She was a special person in our lives and in mine particularly. Lela was also the storyteller in the family circle. We hung on her every word. She lived through the depression. She lived in Colorado and California as well as in Ohio. She lost her only son in a WWII flight training accident. She was a music teacher. She was a grand lady standing not quite 5 foot tall, if that.

I would love to have lunch with her - again - and talk about our family to learn even more. She had insisted that her grandmother had not divorced her first husband to marry a second time. (That is a whole different story). Yet, I did find the divorce record. I would want to know more about her grandmother and her second husband (and the first husband, too) I would love to tell her how much I have learned about our family - the good and the bad. She might be a bit appalled that I found the divorce record, though.

I always thought of her as a third grandma. An overnight at her place was always an experience. Lela lived to be almost 106 years of age. She had a lifetime of stories of her own to tell.

We would go on a picnic in a park with a river or water flowing neaerby. Sandwiches and lemonade with plenty of pickles on the side. Cookies for dessert.


Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

My mother's sister, Norma Werner Kraps, was an avid bird watcher. When my sisters and I were young, we would go hiking in the local park with the Audubon group to seek out our feathered friends. We learned the calls of the birds, and the colorings and markings of the birds. My aunt could tell from the song she heard what was in the area. She worked with scouting groups and was a guide to many.

In 1958 the Elyria Audobon Society was formed (Ohio) and in 2008, Norma was among a handful of members being recognized for their long-time association with the organization. Norma held all offices in the society.

Her special bird watching apparel was a pink hat and her binoculars. As her eyesight deteriorated due to macular degeneration, she got stronger binoculars until she could only recognize the songs of her feathered friends telling of their presence.

She traveled the United States always alert for new sightings and new adventures.

Thanks, my dear Aunt Norma, for the love of your feathered friends.

Norma Werner Kraps in 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Six Word Memoir

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13 - Moment of Strength

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

I have to admire the strength and courage of my great-grandmother, Augusta Sprengel Werner. She and her husband, Anton, lived in the most northern part of Germany near Koningsberg. It is said that they were peasants on a farm and had little food to eat. The landowner would lock the excess food away so his peasants wouldn't be able to get to it. 

In March of 1888, Anton set out for the United States. Former tenants on the same farm had previously come to the United States and urged Anton and his family to come for a better life. Anton left behind his family knowing they would re-unite soon.

Anton made his way to Grafton, Ohio where he worked in the sandstone quarries. He worked very hard to have a home for when his family when join him.

Either just before, or just after Anton departed Germany, Augusta gave birth to their second son, Otto. The records indicate that Otto was either 2 weeks old or 2 months old when Augusta and her two sons set sail for America in April of 1888. The church record from Elyria, Ohio indicates that Otto was born in March of 1888.

It is not known if Augusta traveled with friends or family. It is known that she had two small children with her. She was leaving the only life she had ever known for an unknown future. Augusta was 27 years old. Family stories tell us that on the ship, Augusta became very ill. They were traveling in steerage. Her worldly possessions were only a feather bed and a wicker trunk. It is said that without the help and assistance of the other passengers, she would have died on that trip. 

This is a picture of the ship Trave that Augusta and her sons traveled to America on

Augusta did survive the trip. She never learned to speak English very well and insisted her children speak German at home. Of course, being born in the United States, they were only learning German from their parents. It was difficult for the children. Six more children were born including my grandfather after they settled in to a life in Grafton, Ohio.

Would I have the same courage to make that kind of a move on my own? To move away from my family and all I knew? Time and circumstances dictate our choices in life. Perhaps it is just knowing you would have the opportunity have a better life or make a change that would be worth it in the end.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 12 - Working Outside the Home

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

For the first 22 years of her married life, my mother was a stay-at-home mom. My parents were married in 1939. Three daughters were born between 1942 and 1945. My father made a living as a machinist in a factory and was a musician on the weekends which brought in extra money that was used for our yearly vacations. My brother was born in 1956 when I was 14 years old. He had four mothers! In the summer of 1961 my parents decided to move from Ohio to Prescott, Arizona.

This move meant that my dad was giving up a secure job and only a few short years until he earned his full pension right. The house was nearly paid off. They sold the house to my mother's sister and her family. They packed up the trailer, and looking like a gypsy caravan they started out on their new adventures.

Once in Arizona, dad found it difficult to find a job. Prescott, Arizona, even in the 1960's was considered a retirement community. There were no factories or major industries. He started teaching music and playing dinner music in restaurants. There were still two children at home.

In order to supplement the household income, mom found a job as a "nanny" or babysitter to her doctor's family of 5 children. She bonded well with that family and was with them for several years. She finally found a job working with the local public library. Because she loved books so dearly, this was the perfect job for her. She rarely worked the front desk preferring to be behind the scenes. She learned to repair book bindings and often traveled to the branch libraries to give instructional classes to other librarians. She truly loved what she did.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

An Early Demise

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

Today's prompt will lead me to my husband's great-grandmother Elizabeth Ann Blanchett Cheney.  Elizabeth was born in Portsmouth, England in 1830. She came to America with her family while a young girl. Her family moved to Avon, Lorain County, Ohio. In 1862, at the age of 32, she married Reuben Cheney. This was Reuben's second marriage, as his first wife had died in October of 1861. She left behind three young girls born in 1857, 1860 and 1861. Only one of those daughters lived to adulthood to raise her own family.  The other two daughters died in 1879 and 1880.

Reuben need a mother for his three young daughters. He was living in Coldwater, Michigan at the time. However, before that first marriage, he had also lived in Avon, Lorain County, Ohio which is where he undoubtedly met Elizabeth. He returned to Lorain County to marry Elizabeth and took her to Coldwater.

Elizabeth and Reuben had 5 children, including two sets of twins. The oldest daughter was born in 1863, the first set of twins in 1865, and the second set of twins on June 2, 1867. There were four girls and one boy. On the 13th of June in 1867, Elizabeth died from complications of childbirth.

Reuben was distraught. He now had eight children to take care of including newborn twins. He returned to Lorain County for his third wife, Matilda Chester, who was 45 years old. They were married in October of 1867. They had no children. They had no children. This was Matilda's fourth marriage. She had at least one daughter by a previous marriage.

Sometime, before 1870, the only son of Reuben and Elizabeth was sent back to Ohio to live with his mother's parents, Henry Howe and Elizabeth [Reed] Blanchett. The family was being shifted around. Some of his sisters were living with brothers and sisters of Reuben in the Coldwater area. Only three of Reuben's daughters were living with him in the 1870 census. His third wife, Matilda, is not listed with him in the 1870 Census. By 1870, Matilda had filed for divorce.

The last set of twins also died early, one at the age of 7, and the other at the age of  22, a wife of two years, and the mother of an 11 week old baby.

The son sent to Ohio, Charles Cheney, was my husband's grandfather. We know that he went back and forth to Michigan as he got older to help his father on the farm. Charles' remaining sisters often came to Ohio to visit him as well. If Charles had stayed in Michigaan, his family line could be much different. Fortunately, he married a girl from Avon, Ohio and they stayed in Ohio to raise their family.

Reuben married at least once more, if not twice after the 1871 divorce. He died in 1888 in Coldwater, Michigan. He was 64 years old.

It is hard to imagine your family being raised by other people. Even in today's world, these situations still occur. When I see my own family around me, I am so thankful that life's circumstances have been kind to us.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Religion in the family

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

My great-great-grandmother, Sophia Reugger Pfeiffer, and her husband Charles were early supporters of the Evangelical and Reformed Lutheran Church in Valley City, Ohio. Sophia's father had been instrumental in building the church as had Charles Pfeiffer. Sophia and Charles eventually transitioned to the Belden Methodist Church where a stained glass window remembers their presence in the church.

Sophia's daughter-in-law, Cora Benton Pfeiffer was very active in promoting missionary work  though the Litchfield Congregational Church. She was also active in many of the women's groups.

Cora's daughter, my grandmother, Viola Pfeiffer Werner was active in later years in the Sullivan Congregational Church with the women's organizations of her church.

My father's mother, Flossie Wallington Lance, was active in the Sullivan Christian Church her in ladies' circles.

My mother, Allene Werner Lance, was active in both the Christian Church and Congregational Church in Elyria, Ohio where she taught Sunday School and was on the buildling committee of the Christian Church.

At one time I was a Sunday School teacher at the First Congregational Church of Elyria, Ohio and supported many of their social activities for families. I also sang in the choir there.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fearless Females - March 9 - A Family Document

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

This is the church record from St. John's Lutheran Church in Elyria, Ohio for my great-grandparents, Anton and Augusta Sprengel Werner. This shows their first two sons were born in Germany as were Anton and Augusta.  This record also shows the names of the second and third wives of Anton after the death of his first wife, Auguste.  These names were not previously known in whole to the family. My grandfather, Edward, is child number six born in Grafton, Ohio 15 February 1896.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fearless Females - Catching Up!

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

I have several heirlooms, so this was a difficult choice to make. Perhaps my most treasured heirloom is the wedding nightgown of my great-grandmother, Cora B. Benton Pfeiffer. This treasure came in to my safe-keeping a few years ago. My great-aunt, a sister of my grandmother, and a daughter of Cora, had passed away and her son was giving me some family treasures. He handed me a brown paper shopping bag that had written on the outside:" In this Bag - Cora Benton Pfeiffer's wedding night gown, and family christening dress". Both pieces of apparel were made identically, out of the same material with the same crocheted trim.  Cora Benton and Henry Pfeiffer were married in 1892.

 The shoulders of the nightgown are very narrow. Cora was a very petite lady, probably just under 5 foot in heighth. The gown is made of a fine cotton muslin. There is a hand crocheted scalloped trip around the neck, the wrists, and down the front. There are extremely narrow pin tucks down the front of the gown. Cora's sister was a seamstress, and it is believed that she may have made both items. The Christening Dress does not have a button down front, but the overall pattern is the same. I have no pictures of any of Cora and Henry's 8 children in the Christening Dress.

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

This one is so easy for me! After my mother passed away, I found a cookbook from the church her mother attended in Sullivan, Ohio. My mother was a fond collector of cook books. In this cookbook, the ladies of the church hand wrote their favorite recipes and they were put in book form. There were a few receipes there in my grandmother's handwriting. A few years prior to finding the cookbook, one of my mother's sister had brought a rhubarb pie to a family gathering. Everyone loved that pie. The recipe for that pie was in the cookbook. It has become a family favorite.

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

I had two sisters of my mother's father write memoirs. My grandmother and my mother both wrote memoirs. I have chosen an excerpt from the memoirs of my grandfather's sister Grace:

Our farm was quite small and we children were getting older, so my parents decided to buy a larger farm.  They bought a 150 acre farm two and a half miles south of the Grafton Mill and one fourth mile west next to the cemetery where both of my parents are buried.  My mother was so happy as we had such a nice nine room house and newly decorated.  It had eight outside doors and a nice pantry.  There was one thing that worried her – they had paid five thousand dollars for the farm and she wondered how we were going to pay for it.  Well, we all worked hard and it did not take too long before we had it paid for.  We knew more about farming by then...

We had a large dairy and shipped milk in to Cleveland.  I used to milk four cows before I went to school and then walked over a mile to school on a dirt road – no pavement in those days.  The Black River ran through our farm and it was a haven for us children.  The boys could hunt, go swimming and fish and we girls could pick wild flowers.There were the most beautiful violets.  Hickory nuts and Black Walnuts were very plentiful then.  We older children gathered hickory nuts and would sell them for a dollar a bushel.  We would get about ten bushels and my mother would buy us stockings and mittens and school tablets and pencils.  Then you could buy quite a little for a dollar.

We also had a sugar bush that made maple syrup and maple sugar.  We would gather the sap days and generally boil it at night in a shack in the woods.  It would take thirty gallons for one gallon of syrup.  It was a lot of hard work, but we enjoyed doing it.  That would be around the month of March.  We got one dollar for a gallon of syrup.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How did they meet?

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

My parents, Wayne Lance and Allene Werner met at a high school musical event. My dad had already graduated from high school and was in a musical group that played for many school events.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My dad's parents, Vernon and Flossie Wallington Lance said they met at a family reunion at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. These grandparents were the impetus to get me started in genealogy. They had always said they were 5th or 6th cousins, but I found out they were actually full 3rd cousins.

 Flossie Wallington Lance and Vernon Lance

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My mom's parents, Ed Werner and Viola Pfeiffer met through the sisters of Ed Werner. Viola was teaching school in the Grafton Township area of Lorain County, Ohio. Two of Ed's sisters were in Viola's class.
Ed & Viola Pfeiffer Werner

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My husband and I met on a double date. I was dating a friend of his, and my husband was dating a friend of mine.
Margaret Lance & Ralph Cheney

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

Which one do I choose? Maybe more than one.

Edward A. Werner and Viola B. Pfieffer, my mother's parents, were married on 12 March 1918 at the parsonage of the Congregational Church in Medina, Ohio along with Viola's sister, Irene B. Pfeiffer and Clarence Wise. Viola was 24 years old and Ed was 22 years old. According to my grandmother's notes, the day was very spring like and robins were in great abundance that day. After the ceremony the two couples returned to the home of the brides' parents where a big dinner was held for the newlyweds. While I do not have a wedding picture, I do have a picture of the 40th anniversary celebration of these two couples held in 1958 at my parents' home in Elyria, OH. My grandfather died in 1963 and my grandmother died in 1991.

Clarence Wise ~ Ed Werner
Irene Pfeiffer Wise ~ Viola Pfeiffer Werner

* * * * *

Vernon Lance and Flossie Wallington, my father's parents, were married in Spencer, Ohio on Christmas Eve in1907. Flossie was 19 years old and Vernon was 21. I have not heard many stories of their wedding. Flossie's mother had died in 1904, and her father died in 1908. Vernon and Flossie were married for 65 years before Vernon died in 1973. Flossie died in 1975.

Flossie Wallington and Vernon Lance

* * * * *


Monday, March 3, 2014

Where did my name come from?

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.
March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

I did not realize until I was an adult that my name came from the middle names of my mother's sisters, Leah Margaret Werner and Norma Lucille Werner. My Aunt Leah was 16 when I was born, and my Aunt Norma was 19. Leah was still in high school and Norma was working at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH. She said she did not get to see me until I was about six months old.

L-R - Leah Margaret Werner - Norma Lucille Werner - Allene Marie Werner
about 1940

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fearless Females

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

Today, I choose my grandmother, Viola Barbara Pfeiffer Werner. Viola was the 2nd child and the first daughter of Henry and Cora Benton Pfeiffer. She was born on Christmas Eve in 1894. There would be 8 children in this family, 4 boys and 4 girls. Four years after Viola was born, the 4th child of the family, Irene Bessie Pfeiffer, was also born on Christmas Eve. These two sisters maintained an extremely close relationship throughout their lives. Both became teachers in the early one-room schools of Grafton Township in Lorain County Ohio. They had a double wedding on 12 March 1918. Each had 3 daughters.

Grandma Vi was a person who always wanted to "know more". She was an early graduate of Kent State University, she taught school, she was a musician, and she was a photographer. She took and developed her own pictures - you know, those postcard pictures on the heavy cardboard. She wasn't afraid to take on new challenges. She was active in her church and in the Eastern Star.

This is just a short glimpse into the life of my grandma. She died in September of 1991. 

My grandmother was the pianist in a small musical group. She played both piano and violin. This picture was probably taken around 1918-1920. I chose this picture because it shows the musical tradition that has been a strong part of our family over the years.