Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fearless Females March 24 - Shared Traits

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

This question just makes me giggle. If you saw the women at one of the Powers family reunions, you would understand why. Because we ALL look alike. I’m not exaggerating, we do. I resemble my grandma Jenny to a great extent – same nose, same hair, similar body shape (thin, small breasts, big hips and thighs, tiny very high waist) and we have similar personalities – stubborn, opinionated, etc. The high small waist and larger hips and thighs is very predominate in my family. Even if we aren’t thin anymore, we keep a tiny waist when compared to the rest of our bodies. High cheekbones are also common (I frequently bemoan my ‘chipmunk cheeks’ in pictures where I am smiling).

Example: This is me and my mom's first cousin Carrie. See how much we look alike? We've even had non-relatives tell us we looked like sisters.

So yes, I do share physical resemblance to several of my female ancestors and current relatives. Because we all look alike. Its rather scary actually.

Fearless Females March 22 - Movie

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

I vote for Mary McNeil Ewing, the ancestor discussed in my first Fearless Females post. I think her life would make an interesting movie – married young, moved more than once farther into the ‘wilderness’, even migrating when she was elderly. I just picture her as this feisty little thing who doesn’t take no for an answer. However, I have no idea what actress to cast. I honestly really don’t like too many modern actresses. I’d want someone small who could play with great strength of character but not be too pretty.

Fearless Females March 13 - Moment of Strength

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

Almost every woman in my immediate family has showed courage or strength in a difficult situation. My mother survived basically living at the hospital everyday when my brother was sick as an infant. My grandma Jenny lost her mother when she was only 19 years old, after having nursed Grandma Sarah Helen for years and missing out on a lot of things teenagers should experience. Then my grandfather died young, when he was only in his 50s. And grandma kept going, even though she really didn’t want to. She always told me that I was her saving grace – talking to me kept her sane. I was a baby after all and couldn’t talk back, just listen. My grandma Katie had a still born baby and kept going. We’re good strong stock in my family.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fearless Females March 20 - Brick Wall Ancestor

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

Martha Ann Jones who married John Clark Lyons. She’s my brick wall because it was her second marriage and we don’t know what her maiden name was. And I have no idea how to find out anymore information about her than what I already have. I may have to search marriage records for a Martha and see if I find anything that sounds like her.

Fearless Females March 19 - Surprising Fact

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

My great grandma Fern had a college degree. Considering that she married in the early 1920s, she had gone to school before that time which makes it a really big deal that she went to college. My mom told me recently and I felt amazing, so proud that one of my ancestors had done something so important. Unfortunately, I don’t know where she went. I had a theory and emailed the school but they were unable to find her.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fearless Females March 2 - Picture of Grandma Leah

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?

This is my great great grandma Leah with her chickens. My grandma Jenny says that her chickens were mean. I don’t know when it was taken, but I would think sometime in the 1930s or so. I picked it because I’m named after Grandma Leah.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fearless Females March 12 - Working Girl

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

I think I’m a bit younger than this blog thinks I am. Lol Yes, my mother worked outside the home, not unusual for someone in my age group. However what is unusual is that she worked and my father stayed home and took care of the house. My mother worked as a nurses aid, then went to nursing school when I started kindergarten. She worked as an LPN most of my childhood.

My grandma Jenny went to college in 1963 for her teaching degree when my mom was around five years old. Grandma started teaching at the beginning of 1966 on her associates degree. She graduated when mom was twelve and then went back for her masters in teaching. She taught up until the early 1990s, when she retired. My grandma Katie also has a college degree and I know she used to substitute teach.

My great grandma Sarah Helen used to work as a seamstress to help the family out. I guess its not really working outside the home though. Before she married, she worked in a shirt factory. And my great grandma Fern used to take in laundry when she was married. After my great grandparents divorced, she went to work as a bookkeeper.

My Irish Ancestry

I'm taking a break from my Fearless Females posts to celebrate my Irish heritage in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

First up, the Forkner side of the family and the Hollingsworths. They were Quakers.

Robert or Valentine Hollingsworth was born in England in 1547 but died in Ireland between 1599 and 1601. He may have been a settler. According to Wikipedia, he was in an English militia and went to Ireland as a planter for the Ulster plantation. His wife, Joan Parker, was born in Ireland and their son Henry Hollingsworth was born there as well, sometime in the 1580s. Henry died in Ireland, probably in or around 1675. The family lived in Ballyvickcrannel in the Parish of Segoe, County Armagh.

Henry married Katherine Cornish, who was born in 1590/1602 in County Armagh, Ireland. She died there in 1675. She was the daughter of Henry Cornish, the High Sheriff, and his wife. Henry Cornish was born in Ireland probably around 1576, but died in London.

Henry and Katherine had a son, Valentine Hollingsworth Sr. He was born in County Armag in 1632 and married in 1655 to Ann Ree. He married again in 1672 to Ann Calvert. The first marriage took place either in Tanderagee or Lurgan, County Armagh; the second in Drumgor. In Oct of 1682, he immigrated to America on the "Antelope" and died in 1710 or 1711 in Newark, New Castle County, Delaware. He's buried at the Friends Burying Ground, New Ark Monthly Meeting, New Castle Co, Newark DE.

Ann Ree was born about 1628 in Tanderagee, Parish of Ballymore, Armagh County, Ireland and died in 1671 in Ballyvickcrannell, Seagoe, County Armagh, Ireland. She was buried 1671 in Friends Burial Ground, Moyraverty, Co Armagh, Ireland. She was the daughter of Nicholas Ree

Nicholas Ree was born in the late 1570s in Ireland and was Christened 2 Oct 1597 in Tandergee, County Armagh, Ireland. He married and died in 1631 or 1641, possibly killed in an Irish rebellion.

Valentine and Ann had a son, Thomas Hollingsworth, born in 1661 in Ballyvickcrannell, Seagoe, County Armagh, Ireland. He immigrated in 1682 (presumably with his father and stepmother) and married in Pennsylvania in 1692 to Grace Cooke, who's father was born in Ireland. He died in 1727 in New Castle County, PA (now DE) and was buried at the Friends’ Burying Ground, Centre Meeting, Chester Co. PA.

From there, the Hollingsworths went to the Carolinas, Ohio and finally to Indiana where Daisy Hollingsworth married Hadley Clifford.

My ancestor James Savage (Fink side of the family, they married into the Braley line) was born in Ireland in 1673 and died in Maine around 1745. He's the last of the Savages I have in my research so I don't know anymore about him or his family.

Also in the Fink line, my research shows that the Ewings originally came from Ireland as well. William Ewing was born in Londonderry about 1690 and his son James or Charles was born there as well in 1720. He immigrated to America, married in Virginia in 1740/41 and died in 1800/01 in what is now West Virginia. His son would be Swago Bill who was mentioned in my first Fearless Females post which was about his wife. Swago Bill's mother was Margaret Sargeant and she was also born in Ireland.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fearless Females March 11 - Tragic Deaths

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?

My great grandma Sarah Helen died in 1949 from tuberculosis. At the age of 52, she wasn’t terribly young. But my grandmother was only 19. She’d missed a lot of school to care for her mother, although she did graduate from high school. And she finished raising her sister Marilyn. After my grandparents married, Aunt Marilyn lived with them until she married.

There was a definite tragic death in the family in 1882. My 3rd great grandmother Mary Ann Fox (born Kring) died in a flash flood in Frenchburg, KY. She was bedfast and her son John and other family members had tied ropes around her bed and were trying to raise her to the loft when a gush of water came through the door. She was swept away and found days later with other victims of the flood.

Fearless Females March 4 - Wedding Stories and Photos

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.

My parents were married on Friday July 13, 1979. My mother always wanted a September wedding, but my grandparents had married on a Friday the 13th and my father wanted to as well, so they wed in July. The church (First Church of God on Pleasant Ave in Hamilton OH which is no longer. Well the building’s there but another church owns it now unfortunately. I miss that church) had a courtyard and that is where the wedding was supposed to take place. However, there was a thunderstorm that day and so the wedding took place in the sanctuary.

My mother still (jokingly) berates my father for it, since she wanted a September wedding.

My mother with her father on her wedding day

I don’t know any stories about either of my grandparents’ weddings.

However, we do have an heirloom wedding dress. My grandfather William was in Korea and was sent to Japan for R&R. He purchased some Japanese silk and sent it to my grandma Jenny for her wedding dress. It has a high neck because she was so skinny that she wanted to hide her collarbones (I take after her, except that I like to display my collarbones, I think they’re pretty) and a little bit of a train, she made it as long as she could with the fabric she was given. When my great aunt Marilyn married a few years later, she wore the dress as well. And my mother wore it when she married my father. The dress has been improperly stored and needs some repair work done, but as a seamstress I know I can handle it. When I marry, I plan to wear the dress with the Brussels lace wedding veil that my grandma Jenny bought me when she took me to Brussels when I was seventeen.

This is my dad's parents, Grandpa Stub (aka Donald) and Grandma Katie at their Friday the 13th wedding.

And this is my mom's parents, Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jenny at their wedding. That is the dress that I have inherited.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fearless Females March 10 - Religion

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?

We’ve been members of the Church of God, Anderson IN for four generations. My great grandmother Sarah Helen worked with the revivals before she married. She used to play the piano for W.F. Chappell’s revivals in Kentucky. My grandmother has always been involved. She used to lead the Women of the Church of God group and I think she still participates. My mother goes to church most Sundays and Bible study every Wednesday. Growing up, she says that she went to church twice on Sundays and on Wednesdays. The family helped clean the church as well. I grew up in the church and still consider myself a member of the Church of God, I just don’t attend very often anymore.

My great grandmother Harriet on the Forkner side (she was born a Clifford) was a member of the Disciples of Christ. Her daughter, my grandma Katie, still attends that church. And she has been very active musically – playing in the handbell choir, playing the organ for services and I also think she’s sang in the choir.

Fearless Females March 6 - Heirlooms

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 family heirlooms.

I used to have my great grandma Fern’s wedding ring but I lost it. It was a gold band with flowers and leaves on it. My mother said it was cursed. Apparently my great grandfather had bought it at a pawn shop and the owner had told him that the original owner had divorced. My great grandparents also divorced. I wore it for years and in my senior year of high school, took it off during art class while working with clay and left it (and my graduation ring) on the table. Never saw either one again. I still miss my rings. I also have a gold locket with a diamond in it that's engraved that was Grandma Fern's and a gold pocket watch as well. Its also engraved. The locket has flowers, the watch a cross (I think). Oh and I almost forgot the most important thing! My sewing machine was Grandma Fern's as well! I use that more than I use about anything. And its even named Fern after her.

I also have furniture from the Fink side of the family – a dresser and a mirror. They were Aunt Nora’s but I got them when I was about seven. Nora was the daughter of John and Annette Fink, my 3rd great grandparents, so I guess that makes her my 3rd great aunt. From what my great aunt Esther Jo said, they may have been brought to Ohio from Pennsylvania when Jacob and Nancy Fink (my 4th great grandparents) migrated.

I also have a huge woven basket and an abalone shell that belong to my great grandmother Edna’s on the Cookman side (she was a Groff). It took me years to get that basket from my mother. My argument was that I should have it because she was only a Cookman by marriage, not blood. I wonder what she used the basket for...

I don’t know if it’s really an heirloom, but today I’m wearing a top that my grandma Jenny made while she was in the hospital. My mother wore the top and now I wear it. It’s a 70s cream polyester pullover with hand embroidery.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fearless Females March 7 - Family Recipes

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.

I won’t share the actual recipe, because I believe that family recipes should stay in the family. But we have an egg noodle recipe that pretty much everyone in my family loves. Flour, eggs, salt and milk. That’s it. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. We use it to make chicken and noodles, chicken and dumplings, beef and noodles, I think turkey and noodles has even been done. My mother says it was my step great grandma Gladys’ recipe, my grandmother says it was a pretty common way of making noodles back in the day. But we consider it a family recipe. This dish is a favorite because its easy, hearty and oh so delicious, especially when served over mashed potatoes.

My mother and I always make fruit filled yeast pastry at Christmas time, except we call it 'coffee cake'. And we make several batches of it. Its not really a family recipe (yet). My mother learned it from an older woman at church when she was growing up. Apparently my grandfather would always order some from this woman for family events and at some point my mom learned how to make it herself. Its a long complicated process that takes about three hours per coffee cake, more if we make our own filling which we do do sometimes. But my mom and I are the only ones that can make it, and its very special to us. I look forward to the hours I spend with her in the kitchen every year. I think spending time with her is what makes this dish so special to me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fearless Females March 3 - Family Names

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.

We have two family names that have been passed down – Lear or Leah which became Lee. And Helen, which was originally Sarah Helen.

My name is Jennilee and I’m named after my maternal grandmother, Virginia Lee. When she was younger, she was called Jenny Lee and so that’s what my mother named me. Grandma’s maternal grandmother was Leah Powers and she was named after her. The story is that my great grandfather misspelled her middle name on her birth certificate and so she was Lee instead of Leah. Leah was likely named after her paternal grandmother, Leah McCarty Powers.

My mother is Helen. Her maternal grandmother’s name was Sarah Helen. My great grandmother was likely named after her aunt, also Sarah Helen (Aunt Helen, pronounced He-Len, not Hel-len), Leah Power’s sister.

So we have three Sarah Helen / Helens and four Leah / Lees in the family.

On a somewhat related note, my paternal grandfather is Donald Lee, my oldest uncle is Harold Lee, his oldest daughter is Melissa Leigh, my uncle Paul's oldest is Casi Lea and I'm Jennilee. I think we like the name Lee in my family.

Fearless Females March 1 - Favorite Female Ancestor

A blog I just found today (and started following of course) called The Accidental Genealogist has 31 prompts posted for the month of March to explore and share your female ancestors. Since this is right up my alley, I decided to start posting them. I have some catching up to do so expect to be deluged over the next few days til I get caught up.

March 1 Prompt — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

This is a hard choice, because I’m fascinated by so many of my ancestors. Elizabeth Curtis on my father's side is one of my favorites (the first white woman in Madison County, IN, but she's already been explored in an earlier post). My mother suggested my 6th great grandmother, Mary Ewing, born McNeil, who was born in Virginia, lived in Ohio and Iowa and died in Missouri. Talk about a pioneer!

Mary was born on December 25, 1771 in what is now West Virginia, to Thomas McNeil and his wife Mary Hughes. On November 16, 1785, she wed William Ewing, nicknamed ‘Swago Bill’. Mary was a month shy of being fourteen and Swago Bill was twenty nine. At the age of fifteen, Mary was the mother of Elizabeth and at sixteen another child came, Thomas. Before she was nineteen, she was taking care of three young children and another came before she was twenty one. By the age of thirty eight, Mary had twelve children in the space of twenty two years, all of whom were still living. Mary and Swago Bill’s children were: Elizabeth, Thomas, Jonathan, William II, James, John, Sarah Jane, Enoch, Jacob, Abraham McNeil, George and Andrew. I am descended from William II Ewing.

In 1810, Mary and Swago Bill left their home in the mountains of Virginia and moved to the forests of Gallia County, Ohio, where Ewington now stands. They had ten children under and two children over the age of majority in tow. The Ewing wagon train traveled 160 miles to Ohio and consisted of three covered wagons, twelve horses and several head of sheep, swine and cows. They carried provisions for the trip as well as equipment and tools they would need to build a new home. At Point Pleasant, they built rafts and made several trips across the Ohio River to get all of their belongings across and then traveled a further 20 miles north to their destination. By the spring of 1812, after much work to clear the forest, the family’s new home was ready – two stories made of hewn logs and with a stone chimney.

Twelve years later, in 1822, Swago Bill died, leaving Mary a widow at fifty one and their youngest child Andrew fatherless at the age of thirteen. She lived in their house in Ewington until 1839, when Andrew married and bought property in Wilkesville Township, in what is now Vinton County. In 1853, she left with Andrew for the west. She was in her early 80s, but she would not be dissuaded from going. After all, she’d married a backwoodsman twice her age and already been a pioneer from Virginia to Ohio, what was another trip? They first settled in Iowa for a few years, then moved to Missouri. Mary died there near Ravanna in 1858.

Resources - A lot of research but these two website were particularly valuable:



I’d like to know where the family land was, unfortunately I have no idea how to research that. I feel like I know Mary pretty well though. She strikes me as a stubborn little thing who knew what she wanted and did it. You have to admire a woman who married a man twice her age when she wasn’t even fourteen yet and then traveled with him to a new frontier. And you have to admire even more a woman who traveled with her son to another new frontier when she was in her eighties. She definitely qualifies as a fearless female.