"Wicked rather than virtuous out of conformity..."

I sometimes contemplate what became of the belongings of my ancestors, particularly those who left no children. Not having many family heirlooms of my own, I still have acquired a good many old things that must have belonged to someone before me. What stories could they tell? Would this vase or that knickknack have a special resonance for someone else?

Recently I discovered an object online that was once owned by one of my family, a brass railway lantern that had belonged to Charles Henry Cherry (7 Jun 1837 - 16 Mar 1908). He was the youngest brother of one of my maternal third great-grandmothers, Mary Ann Cherry (17 Dec 1813 - 11 Nov 1853). Charles was a railway conductor for many years, but after a number of accidents that damaged his health he worked as a railway postal clerk. His lantern came up for auction, and sold for $1900.

The engraving on the glass globe reads:
C. H. Cherry
Local Mail Agent.
The leather strap is embossed "U. S. Mail."

I wonder what the appeal was for the winning bidder. Perhaps he or she collects railroad memorabilia, or just thought it pretty. It's nice to think that possibly they are another Cherry descendant.... Anyhow, it is reassuring to know that some things last, and I do hope the new owner is getting at least $1900 worth of enjoyment out of it. (Although I must add that it would look spectacular in my living room....)

It was one of those happy bloggish coincidences that this stray objet was formerly in the possession of the Cherrys rather than any of my other forbears, because the Cherry clan had been on my mind lately, and the subject of a recent post here. That time I wrote about the virtuous and upstanding Samuel Alonzo Cherry, a church deacon and underground railroad conductor; this post's subject is someone about whom there is a lot of aestheticism, a bit of mystery, and more than a whiff of scandal: Margaret Guthrie Cherry (Apr 1865 - 1 Feb 1935), Charles Henry Cherry's only child (and so Samuel Alonzo's niece).

Her obituary, as it ran in The Lethbridge [Alberta] Herald, 2 Feb 1935, seems laudatory enough:

Miss Cherry Is Called By Death
Interesting figure Dies in Local Hospital—Graduate Oberlin College
The death occurred in a local hospital Friday about midnight of Miss Margaret Guthrie “Dasie” Cherry, 73 years. For 20 years or more Miss Cherry had been an interesting figure in the life of Southern Alberta, being a large farm property owner and shrewd business woman. At the time of her death she was interested in property in the Chin district but last spring she sold a large sheep ranch north of Jamieson. The body is at Martin Brothers’ mortuary awaiting advice from relatives in Marysville, Ohio, old home of the deceased. George E. A. Rice of Shepherd, Dunlop and Rice, solicitor for Miss Cherry, is handling her affairs here.
Miss Cherry was born in Ohio, her family being well connected and prominent in that state for generations. She herself was a graduate of Oberlin College and was of an artistic and cultured nature, and among her friends she was a charming and versatile conversationalist. She was a keen lover and excellent judge of painting and handicraft and had judged at many national shows including the Chicago World’s Fair many years ago. Twice she circled the globe as an employee of the United States government, her mission being in connection with handicrafts and their development.
An enthusiastic lover of all animals, Miss Cherry was especially devoted to horses. She knew the fine points of a horse, being one of the best judges of horses in the country. She is survived by an uncle, J. C. Guthrie, and a cousin, Dwight Guthrie Scott, both of Marysville, Ohio. The funeral will likely be here  on Monday but this is not definite.
Miss Cherry was born in Ohio, and although nice as it would be to think, it is a stretch to say that Dasie's family was especially well-connected or prominent, and certainly not "for generations," unless you allow some artistic license, which she would probably appreciate. The Cherry family did not even move to Ohio until after her own father's birth. Her mother, Sarah Jane Guthrie (Sep 1841 - aft 1915), was born in Ohio at least, shortly after her family came to Ohio from Chester County, Pennsylvania; grandpa Guthrie was a farmer. Sarah Jane's older sister, Harriet B Guthrie (Oct 1848 - 5 Nov 1919) did marry Orlando McLean Scott (May 1837 - 1923) in 1871, three years after he founded what would become Scotts Miracle-Gro (Scott also held a patent for a device to "exhibit or hold whips"), so there was a sort-of prominence by proxy, I suppose. Harriet and Orlando's son Dwight Guthrie Scott (11 Dec 1875 - 28 Jul 1966) is the cousin referred to above. According to the useful timeline on the Scott Miracle-Gro website,

Until the early 1900s, any seed scattered on the home lawn was usually the sweepings from the haymow, weed seeds and all. In 1907, O.M.'s elder son, Dwight, saw the role which lawns should play in the American way of life, and Scotts began offering grass seed by mail.

So now we know whom we have to thank.
From Little Shop of Horrors, 1986.

Alas, I seemed to have divigated even more than usual. To keep off the grass, so to speak, and attempt a return to the apparently inescapable vegetative theme with the doubly-botanically named Miss Dasie Cherry.... Yes, she called herself "Dasie," a creative spin on the conventional "Daisy," itself a riff on the frenchified version of her true given name; an early manifestation of her artsy nature?

Her obituary states that she attended Oberlin College. I have not been able to verify this or learn what she studied, but it is not surprising. Oberlin seems a good fit for Dasie, both in its liberal arts offerings (and liberality in general) as well as its proximity to the Cherry home. By this time they had moved from Marysville to nearby Newark, Ohio.

In the 30 Dec 1884 edition of the Newark Daily Advocate, Daisy [sic] and a Maggie Burke performed the traditional Irish song Bundle and Go at a "Grand Musical and Literary Entertainment" at the local Music Hall. On 3 Feb 1893, the Daily Advocate reviewed another performance at the Music Hall, this one a bit more spectacular.


It was the last reference to music I have found in Dasie's career.

Her artistic nature next surfaced in February 1898, when she was one of the founding members of the Newark Camera Club, serving as its inaugural Vice President.


By Ema Spencer, from Brush and Pencil, Vol 3, Number 2, Nov 1898.
Courtesy of JSTOR.

The organization itself was quite prestigious, and early members and exhibitors included Edward Weston and Edward Steichen, among others, although even one hundred years ago, in those far-off pre-Internet days, it seems people still couldn't get enough pictures of wacky cats.


(ibid)

The Club's members exhibited at the Chicago Photographic Salon of 1900, held under the joint management of the Chicago Society of Amateur Photographers and the Art Institute of Chicago; the Jury of Selection included Alfred Stieglitz, who also exhibited. Dasie was represented by "Portrait of Miss C." Was this perhaps a self-portrait? In a review of the exhibit in the May 1900 issue of Photo-Era magazine, Henry G Abbott wrote

Dasie G. Cherry of Newark, Ohio, was represented by a single portrait, the value of which was very questionable and which was marred by the presence of a window.

In Dasie's defense, elsewhere in the article, Mr Abbott critiqued a "picture, if picture you can call it," taken by "Edward J. Steicher [sic]."  A year later, Mr Abbott cannot let it go; in his review of the following year's exhibit, which appeared in Western Camera Notes, Nov 1901, he recaps:

In the first salon there was a very large sprinkling of notable pictures.... There were night-mares too; such things as "Frost on the Pool" by E. J. Steichen; "Portrait of Miss C.," by Dasie G. Cherry....

At least by then he had Steichen's name right. Ema Spencer was a bit more kind in Camera Craft, in an article published in the Jul 1901 issue:

Miss Dasie G. Cherry had a picture, "Portrait of Miss C," in the Chicago Salon of 1900, the success the repetition of which a waning interest has prevented.

It might be noted, however, that Ema Spencer was--like Dasie--one of co-founders of the Newark Camera Club. The  club also showed their works  closer to home, of course. Dasie never seemed to have more than one picture on display, unlike her more prolific peers. 
From the catalogue
Exhibit of Photographs by the Newark Camera Club,
 Association Building, Newark, Ohio
 November 28, 29, 30, December 1, 1900

Was her taste so refined that she could deem only one exemplar of her Art as worthy, or was it always someone else's decision? At any rate, whether due to that "waning lack of interest" or merely bad reviews, Dasie soon seemed to have moved away from photography, and into handicrafts, if her obituary is to be believed. No other reference or records to Dasie's round-the-world government-sponsored crafting have turned up in her otherwise well-documented life. I expect embroidery may also have been one of Dasie's many talents....

By 1902, however, she had other things on her mind, although her name continued to appear in print.

From the Newark Advocate, 26 Apr 1905.

According to Mrs Bloomer's suit, Dasie had been carrying on for some time with Mr Bloomer, who, among other things was twenty years Dasie's senior, and like her father was a railroad man. From the Ohio Law Bulletin, Vol 53:

The questions are: did the defendant, Margaret G. Cherry, solicit the affections of the plaintiff's husband; did she, by her conduct towards him, and by the practice of the arts and wiles used only by designing women, cause the plaintiff's husband to transfer his affections from his wife to the defendant, Margaret G. Cherry; and did the other defendants, or either of them, encourage or assist her, or connive with her, in so doing, purposefully and maliciously?

The suit was finally settled in Sep 1907, favoring the Cherrys, which I find remarkable in that Dasie was simultaneously involved in another, parallel suit. She took Dr Theodore W Rankin to court to replevin--a word so recondite even I had to look it up, but seems to be just legal jargon for "reclaim"-- a diamond ring she said was meant for her from the late Mr Bloomer, along with one hundred dollars in damages! She won that case too; "shrewd business woman" indeed. But is it any coincidence that Dasie's father was dead just a few months later, or that shortly after this, she left her family home of "generations" and emigrated to Canada? 

Poseuse and seductress, equestrienne and land mogul (it is hard not to want to use French when writing about Dasie; I feel she would appreciate it)... or just an artsy, brainy gal ahead of her time? We'll probably never find out. If nothing else, she certainly seems to have been a complicated woman. It is a shame that despite prominence and wealth, her relatives back home decided to have Dasie buried in an unmarked grave in Canada. She is gone, but not forgotten. At least by me.

Flowers at her otherwise unmarked grave.
Mountain View Cemetery,
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Photo courtesy of a Findagrave.com member. Thanks!

I would be curious to find out what happened to Dasie's estate; did it go to the Scotts Miracle-Gro heir, the state, charity? More than that, I would love to see a portrait of "this interesting figure," or perhaps better still, one of her own artistic "Portraits." Who knows--perhaps one will come up for auction some day.

"Writing and talk do not prove me"

The other day--for the first time ever, apparently--we celebrated two very American traditions on the same date: Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl. And by "we," I do not mean me. So while most eyes were on one of those events or other, I was thinking about other things, hovering around the concepts of family and identity.

Of course, those national obsessions are not unlike some aspects of genealogy. If Family-History Phil sees his document, it means one thing; if he doesn't, it means another six weeks of research. Super-Fan Fran roots for "her" team, a grouping of people she's never met to whom she feels a strong connection, who in reality may not be very different than that other group; occasionally a person might even leave one to join the other.


Perhaps the only other simultaneous occurrence of  Groundhogs and football;
Rudy Vallee and Robert Morse cheering on "Grand Old Ivy" from the film
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, 1967. 

Part of the reason I was thinking about all this was because recently I received an email from someone hoping I could help them provide some proof to accompany a lineage society membership request. So although descendants of John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 Feb 1857), a maternal fourth great-grandfather, are already eligible to join the Sons of the American Revolution (John Wallace being a son of Capt Samuel Cherry), it seems those D A R gals don't mess around. They want proof, and very specific proof at that.

It seems too facile, somehow, that a single piece of paper could carry such weight. Marriage certificates, adoption papers... do they make a family? Is someone "less related" by the absence of a document? What if proof--in the form of a document or some other tangible evidence--cannot be provided for something that is otherwise demonstrably true? (And somehow, this post is shifting into territory I absolutely wish to avoid concerning this month's other news-ready--I was going to say "newsworthy" but thought better of it--event, the Bible v Science debate held just across the river.)

Anyway. It is interesting in genealogy (and elsewhere) how one's perspective can shift with a single piece of information; things you think you know suddenly become different.

I am reminded of Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos, in which he writes:

You are an Aries. You open your newspaper to the astrology column and read an analysis of the Aries personality. It says, among other things:

You have the knack of creating an atmosphere of thought and movement, unhampered by petty jealousies. But you have the tendency to scatter your talents to the four winds.

Hm, you say, quite true. I'm like that.

Suddenly you realize you've made a mistake. You've read the Gemini column. So you go back to Aries:

Nothing hurts you more than to be unjustly mistreated or suspected. But you have a way about you, a gift for seeing things through despite all obstacles and distractions. You also have a desperate need to be liked. So you have been wounded more often than you admit.

Hm, you say, quite true. I'm like that.

One of my ancestors, a son of the aforementioned John Wallace Cherry, had a son of his own whose birthplace and age did not make sense in the context of the family. Researching the Cherrys, I found by chance the explanation, a single mention in one obituary: "during his middle life Mr Cherry adopted a son." None of the other obituaries or documents mentioned that. Here was a shift, brought about by one piece of paper, one fact. The son was this, now he is that.

I have found myself caught up in the minutiae of my family's histories, or the thrill of discovering a famous or noted ancestor, or the excitement of seeing a photograph or locale connected with someone in my family...! And then I realize there was an error, a flaw in logic, a mistake. The thrill is substituted (after a suitable period of adjustment) by apathy. This occurred to me again the other day as I went trampling over and across other people's gravesites looking for the important ones: my family. This plot brings tears, this one is just in the way. "I, me, mine" indeed.

Percy's astutely astrological observation further reminds me of another bit: Laurie Anderson's recurring theme of being in the wrong house, used in several of her performance pieces. Here it is from "Talk Normal":

I came home today and both our cars were gone. And there were all these new pink flamingos arranged in star patterns all over the lawn. Then I went into the kitchen and it looked like a tornado had hit. And then I realized I was in the wrong house.


The piece ends with the repeated plea "Look at me! Look at me!"

We all want to be seen, to be known for who we are. A larger context, like a family, can often help. Who is Clarissa Adams (31 Jan 1791 - 7 Feb 1872)? She is a maternal fourth great grandmother. She is the wife of John Wallace Cherry. She is the mother and adoptive grandmother of the fellas mentioned above. She is also one of my most vexing brick walls. By chance, I discovered a single document the other day, a query on a genealogy website, that opened up more of her identity. I now know she was a sister as well, to Betsey Adams (10 Oct 1788 - 25 Oct 1869), Sarah "Sally" Adams (31 Dec 1795 - ?), and James A Adams (abt 1800 - 9 Sep 1865). Might I be able to find out more, including who her parents were? With glee, I noted the name of the person who submitted the query, Naomi C Dryden, to contact her. Another document, another fact, another emotion: an online obituary from 2012. R I P Mrs Dryden, and thank you for the lead.

(Poking about, looking for that one piece of paper, that one proof of who Clarissa's parents might be, I discovered that her brother James' son, James Walton Adams [28 Dec 1838 - 18 Jul 1915], married a Eunice Waugh [31 Oct 1841 - 9 Dec 1924]. Waugh! Could this be another favorite author to whom I'm distantly related by marriage? A superficial study suggests so. Why spoil the delightful possibility with proof?]

Cousin Evelyn, as I like to remember him.

Family can help identify us, surely, but only within a group or social structure, not as individuals. Family also helps us form our identity, of course, through some admixture of nature and nurture. But how do we know who we are? Gertrude Stein (to whom it is doubtful I could be related, but...), wrote often about identity, particularly after she achieved widespread fame in 1934 with The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas. She meditated and composed on the theme of the disparity between how one sees oneself versus how one is seen by others. Some of these ruminations appeared in her 1936 The Geographical History of America, or the Relation of Human Nature to the Human Mind, in which she wrote the much-quoted phrase "I am I because my little dog knows me."

Beyond that bit of--dare I say--existential doggerel, though, are deeper concerns. She goes on to wonder who she would be if her dog did not know her, or who she is when her dog is not there to know her, and if either make any difference as to who she is. She concludes: "That does not prove anything about you it only proves something about the dog."


Gertrude Stein and her not-so little dog, Basket,
in a photograph by Man Ray from 1926.


You would think that after an entire book (and many other writings, including the extraordinary Ida: a Novel, which I can highly recommend to anyone interested in beginning with the more accessible--comparatively--Stein) about identity, she would have exhausted the topic, as she perhaps sometimes exhausted her readers. But Gertrude, having taken ahold of an idea, in doglike fashion liked to worry it like a bone, and added this in 1937:

Identity is funny being yourself is funny as you are never yourself to yourself except as you remember yourself and then of course you do not believe yourself.

All this speculation, this circling round family and identity, facts and proof. Have I come to any conclusions? Perhaps. But all that could change with a single piece of paper.

"I do not ask who you are that is not important to me"

From an obituary in the Union County Journal, 29 Apr 1897:

Samuel Alonzo Cherry was born in Oswego, N.Y., Dec. 16, 1811 and came to Marysville [Ohio] in '38. He was therefore Marysville's oldest resident. He was the last surviving charter member of the Delaware Encampment [a branch of the I O O F] and had been a member of the order for over 50 years. He was one of the founders of the Congregational church in this city and in all respects a pillar therein.


It was the New School Presbyterian Church in Samuel A Cherry's time;
 today it is the Congregational United Church of Christ.
Photo by Robert Burnett

Samuel Alonzo Cherry was also an older brother of my maternal third great-grandmother, Mary Ann Cherry (17 Dec 1813 - 11 Nov 1853). His obituary concludes:

In antebellum days his home in this city was a prominent station on the underground railroad, and many a poor slave was housed therein, or rather thereunder, until he could be ticketed through to the next station. He was a grand, good man and citizen, whose long life is an example well worthy of emulation.

Indeed. On the same day that I went up to visit Marysville and see Samuel Alonzo Cherry's old haunts, I read in the newspaper that a predominantly white high school's football team in New Jersey staged a fake lynching as a "joke" for their crosstown rivals, whose student body was primarily black.

The Cherry family, headed by a maternal fourth great-grandfather, John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 May 1857), came to Ohio in the 1830s, first to Huron, and then as early residents of Marysville. They were considered a prominent family, among whose members were a doctor, a clothier, and the third postmaster in town, along with the more prosaic occupation of farmer. As was common in that era, they tended to reuse family names, so there were numerous Samuels and Johns across multiple generations; as a consequence, many of the men went by their middle names. The Samuel Cherry of today's post (not to be confused with his grandfather, uncle, or cousin) was thus also known as Alonzo Cherry. To complicate matters further, three of the Marysville Cherry brothers married women named Mary, also the name of their sister, my direct ancestor.... The Cherrys were a patriotic family as well, with Washington and Jefferson being common middle and first names; where "Alonzo" arose I have no idea. But their patriotism went beyond names: John Wallace Cherry fought in the War of 1812, his father in the Revolutionary War; at least two of his sons served in the Civil War, one losing his life, another suffering wounds that troubled him until his death.

Too old for battle, Samuel Alonzo Cherry chose to serve the cause in another way. In Samuel's own words, in an interview conducted 10 Nov 1894 by Wilbur H Siebert, author of the seminal, if now controversial The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom (1898), Cherry said:

"I was told that the only anti-slavery man in town was Nathaniel Beecher [20 Jun 1879 - 15 Apr 1840]. I was told to look him up. Mr. Beecher talked anti-slavery principles a great deal."

And no wonder. Nathaniel Beecher was from a family of longtime abolitionists that included a distant cousin, Harriet Beecher, who married Calvin Ellis Stowe and was living in Cincinnati about the same time Cherry met Beecher. The Stowes' home was another station on the Underground Railroad. It would be just a few years later that she would write Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Cherry continues:

"A short time after I came back [from briefly living in Huron, Ohio in 1840] I began the work.

The fugitives usually came in groups of twos and threes....They usually came in the latter part of the night and would sleep during the day. Hence they would frequently be kept a day or two. In our house we had a room on the first floor where we usually kept them, and if there was any danger of discovery we would take them through the hall into a cupboard or closet where my wife kept her flour-barrel. Beneath that there was a trap-door, through which they would get into a secluded part of the cellar.

The period of my knowledge of the "road" was from 1840 to 1857. In the latter year I went to Delaware [Ohio] and was there until 1860, and during those three years I knew little or nothing of the operations.

Years later, Cherry was so well-regarded in the community for his abolitionist "work" that even before his death, his house got an obituary, which ran to several columns. It appeared in the Marysville Tribune, 17 May 1893:


The article goes on to say:

The fugitives always knew before reaching Marysville, if they could find Deacon Cherry they would find a friend who would care for them. He invariably took them to his home and provided for their comforts, even to polishing up their usually well worn foot-gear.

Which is not entirely surprising, since for many years Cherry was a tailor. In fact, when he first arrived in Marysville, he took out this ad, which ran in the Marysville Union Star, 6 Jun 1839:

TAILORING
The undersigned has taken the shop immediately opposite the court house where he will at all times be happy to wait on those that may see fit to patronize him. Cutting done on the shortest notice, and warranted to fit if not properly made up.
--SAM'L A. CHERRY

The article adds:

Almost half a century has elapsed and new generations have been born since those barbaric acts in connection with slavery were enacted.


The same day that I explored Marysville and found this clipping, it was reported the state of Georgia was considering offering the Confederate flag as an image on their license plates.

The domestic obit concludes with this:

An imperishable granite monument ought to be erected in front of the old building to remind coming generations of the place where the poor and friendless refugee always found a welcome stopping-place, and where no withholding hand was known or cold frown ever met the gaze of any of God's lowly and oppressed poor.

261 West Sixth Street today. There is no granite monument,
 nor any other recognition of the site's historical importance.
Photo by Robert Burnett

While there is--as yet--no plaque for Samuel Alonzo Cherry, across the street there is a marker for another Cherry relation: Cyprian Lee (10 Apr 1792 - 24 Sep 1854). Lee was another prominent Marysvillian, whose only child, Mary Lee (10 Oct 1823 - 9 Jul 1897) married George Washington Cherry (10 Sep 1809 - 17 Jan 1890), Samuel Alonzo's older brother and consequently another third great-granduncle.


Photo by Robert Burnett

Although the Cherrys and Lees were all involved in the Underground Railroad to some extant, including George and Mary's son, Jefferson Lee Cherry (3 Sep 1842 - 16 Jan 1907), I expect that Cyprian Lee's plaque derives primarily from the fact that his house is the only one still standing. That, or the fact that it was later occupied by Noah Orr, AKA "The Ohio Giant," who at seven feet plus was a noted circus performer with P T Barnum, and member--as the only non-midget--of The Lilliputian Opera Company.  When I went into the Cyprian Lee house (currently used as an insurance office) to inquire about the house and its history, the receptionist knew nothing about the Cherrys and Lees, but was happy to provide a brochure on The Ohio Giant, which I politely declined.

Noah Orr with Mrs Tom Thumb. Neither are ancestors of mine.

Feeling that I had seen enough of Marysville proper, I drove a few miles to Oakdale Cemetery, among whose inhabitants apparently is Noah Orr. I did not notice (nor seek) his no-doubt gargantuan tomb, but continued my quest for ancestors. I did find some names I recognized, but not from my family tree: there were numerous headstones and memorials with the name Vanatta (and its variants), who are ancestors of my brother-in-law! Unbeknownst to us both, his family and mine were buried a few hundred yards apart, over one hundred years ago.

Slogging through snow, I finally located a large marker for some of the Cherry family, which included George Washington Cherry, his wife (the former Miss Lee), and another brother (so another third great-granduncle), John Wallace Cherry (26 Apr 1829 - 28 Jan 1887), and his wife, Mary Elizabeth LKU (24 Nov 1833  - 27 Nov 1903).

 
The Cherry family marker, Oakdale Cemetery.
Marysville, Union, Ohio.
Photo by Robert Burnett

Alongside the quasi-obelisk are two markers inset into the ground, for the aforementioned Jefferson Lee Cherry and his wife--not a Mary!--Josephine C Rakestraw (19 Apr 1843 - 26 May 1929), whose name appeals to me tremendously because it sounds like something from Gilbert & Sullivan, but I digress. While living, Jefferson and Josie resided in the house pictured below, taken from Handsome Homes of Columbus Ohio.


About 1897. The original caption reads, in part :
"This splendid residence... is the home of J. L Cherry.
Mr. Cherry is the well known Electrical Contractor,
who has furnished electrical work to a great many homes...."

Alas, the splendid residence has been replaced by a warehouse in a declining neighborhood, another beautiful old building razed, another Cherry home gone. While at Oakdale Cemetery, I was not able to find a headstone nor any marker, whether vanished or merely covered in snow, for the ostensible subject of this far-wandering post, Samuel Alonzo Cherry. As time goes on, some things change or disappear, while others stay the same. The day after I got back from my outing, the newspaper reported that a fraternity at the University of Mississippi was suspended following its members putting a noose around a statue of James Meredith, the first black student therein enrolled.

One more article, this time in the Marysville Tribune, 27 Apr 1881. It was a profile about "old Uncle Joe Mayo," a free man of color who was another of the principle members of the Underground Railroad in Marysville, in which Mayo praised those who aided the slaves (including S A Cherry), and sadly denounced others, who as the article states, "were the colored man's natural enemy from pure malice and on general principles of devilishness."

It seems that even in 2014 such malice still exists, despite the many advances we have made. I wonder what Deacon S A Cherry would have made of it all.

Samuel Alonzo Cherry
From the Wilbur H Siebert collection,
Ohio Historical Society




"Marysville's chief operator of the Underground Railroad was Samuel A. Cherry, who owned a large plot of ground at the corner of West Sixth and Ash Streets. He had two houses on this lot; a large square two-story frame house at the corner and a one-story brick house, farther east on Sixth Street. Both houses had roomy excavations beneath their floors reached by trap doors and it was in these underground places that the runaways were hidden while waiting to go to the next station. Though Mr Cherry was often suspected by the 'slave powers' as an ardent leader and conductor for the Underground Railroad and had many narrow escapes, he was never betrayed and his house was never searched. All in all he helped about 250 negro men and women to escape north." --Steve Scheiderer, "The Underground Railroad in Union County,"
Union County Community News, 14 Jan 2000

Property in Susan Augusta Cherry's (Samuel's wife) name, located off Cherry Street.
Although other street names in the area are types of trees,
 it is nice to imagine the name was an homage to the family.
From an 1887 map of Marysville, Union, Ohio.


Samuel Alonzo Cherry was born 16 Dec 1811 in Oneida, New York, to John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 Feb 1857) and Clarissa Adams (31 Jan 1791 - 7 Feb 1872). He was the second of eleven children. Sometime in the late 1830s, he married Susan Augusta Goodsell (11 May 1814 - 24 Jan 1885); she was more commonly known as Jane, and was born in Pennsylvania, parents unknown. The Cherrys arrived in Marysville, Union, Ohio in 1839, where he started a tailoring business. The Cherrys had no children of their own, but adopted John A Cherry (actual last name unknown), who had been born in New York in Sep 1854. By 1860 or so, Samuel Alonzo Cherry was no longer a tailor, but owner of the town saw mill; he was also Deacon of the Presbyterian Church. He must have been an active man; after his first wife's death, he remarried--at age 75!--this time to the Welsh-born Madeline Jones (12 Mar 1828 - 22 Mar 1921), herself a widow of a man named Anderson, by whom she had at least three children. Samuel Alonzo Cherry died on 27 Apr 1897, age 85, at his mill. He is buried in Oakdale Cemetery.



My trip to Marysville was in part inspired by this terrific driving tour of central Ohio's Underground Railroad sites, Taking a Stand for Freedom:
http://w2.co.union.oh.us/Engineer/State_of-our_roads/UGRR%20Tour%20Final%20small.pdf

"These so, these irretrievable"

'Tis the season! We celebrate a birthday on 25 December, ostensibly, and although not expecting messiahs (nor even anyone of Levantine birth), I was curious to see who in my family tree shared that birth date, a similar exercise about which I have posted previously.

Running a quick report, I discovered that Christmas births in my family were not many, and those few that did turn up were usually neither verifiable nor even very likely.

There was undoubtedly Ephraim Davenport (25 Dec 1708 - 11 Dec 1789), a paternal seventh great-father, born in Rhode Island, died in Connecticut. Unfortunately, that is the sum total of what I know about him. He does has a nice headstone, however.

South Street Cemetery, AKA Silver Street Cemetery,
Coventry, Tolland, Connecticut.
photo: VCEastman

After Ephraim, things get sketchy and dubious. For instance, John Maxwell (25 Dec 1775 - 12 Nov 1824), a theoretical maternal sixth great-grandfather, is fairly well-documented. But his son, William Maxwell, from whom I am descended, is generally reported as having been born in 1765, ten years before his father. Or take Richard Gay (25 Dec 1580 - 1693), a purported paternal eleventh great-grandfather. He is seen everywhere online with these undocumented dates, without anyone seeming to question how the old coot lived to be one hundred and thirteen years old....

Anyway. Those of you who pay close attention to details may notice that this post, with its Christmas theme, was in fact published 1 January, my resolution about not procrastinating failing even before the new year began. Which means I will need to focus that much harder on two additional genealogical resolves (none of you reading this having any interest in my more personal goals, I hope): first, to make sure I am documenting and double-checking information as I receive it, so as not to perpetuate these too common, well-meaning familial falsehoods; second, to find a way over some of the most vexing brick walls in my research.


Here is the list, focussed primarily on Americans. Anyone out there in cyberland who can contribute (or refute) any information about these folks, especially their parents, would be appreciated!

Isaac Burnett (1780? - May 1860), lived most of his life in Newport, Penobscot, Maine. He married Deborah Grindle (25 Feb 1784 - aft 1860) on 23 Dec 1802. I have written about his garbled ancestry elsewhere.

Samuel Squire (1773 - aft 1830); his wife was perhaps named Mary Ann LKU (abt 1775 -  aft 1830). He appears on the U S Federal Censuses from 1800 through 1830, primarily in Madison, Somerset, Maine.

Aaron Colman (abt 1783 - aft 1830), and his father, Aaron Colman (? - aft 1820); both residents of Maine, appearing on the U S Federal Censuses from 1800 through 1830 and 1820, respectively. Aaron Colman, junior, was married to Mary "Polly" Lombard or Lumbar.

John Swarts (28 Nov 1795 - 24 Oct 1874), born in Pennsylvania, but living most of his life in Brighton, Kenosha, Wisconsin; and his wife Mary McDonald (abt 1799 - 1893), also born in Pennsylvania.

Anna B. A. "Annie" Miller (Jan 1867 - aft 1920), was born in Germany and arrived in the U S about 1870. She married Dor Henry Eaton (May 1869 - 31 Dec 1945) on 27 Jan 1890, in Minnesota.

Willard Brown (abt 1806 - aft 1860), born in New Hampshire. He married Mary "Polly" Rasey (21 Oct 1808 - 12 Dec 1868) on 17 Nov 1826 in New York.

William Carter (1800 - 30 Mar 1849) and Melinda Johnson (1813 - 1902). Complicated by both a scarcity of information and fairly common names, they were both believed born in Tennessee; she died there, while he died in Missouri.

William Kinman (abt 1830 - aft 1858), born in New York and died in Illinois, and Sarah R Moore (abt 1826 - aft 1875). She was probably born in Ohio (I have one U S Federal census to back that up), and the only reason I have "Moore" is that my maternal grandmother provided it, although she was occasionally wrong about these details. Sarah later married a Walter Reading or Redding (abt 1825 - aft 1875); they lived in Illinois.

Frederick Dillazone Ketchum (6 Apr 1811 - 21 Jan 1888), about whom I have written often. I believe I have discovered his father as Elisha Ketchum (abt 1771 - aft 1840), but yearn to know more about these two, including the identity of Frederick's mother. I would also love to know if "Dillazone" is in fact correct (I no longer know where I first saw it; it may have been another Grandma Brown error), and from where it derives. He was most often referred to as "Capt F D Ketchum."

And speaking of Captains, there is Samuel Cherry (15 May 1756 - 27 Oct 1825), about whom I have also written in one of my earliest posts. His parents, and even his place of birth are a great mystery. It is generally agreed that he was born in Londonderry--but which: Ireland or New Hampshire?

Finally, there is Clarissa Adams (31 Jan 1791 - 7 Feb 1872), daughter-in-law of Capt Cherry, above. She was born in New York, and died in Delaware, Delaware County, Ohio. I have visited and photographed her gravesite, which perhaps explains in part her particular appeal for me; that and her potentially historically rich last name! The Cherrys were great patriots, after all....

Detail of the Cherry family marker, Oak Grove Cemetery,
Delaware, Delaware, Ohio.
photo: Robert Burnett

Will anyone contribute facts about these ancestral ciphers of mine? One hopes so, and wishes that 2014 will bring you each what you are looking for as well!

"I will not have a single person slighted or left away"

"This hour I tell things in confidence,
I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you."

Friends of mine, friends of this blog, now it can be told: I am one quarter Swedish. I will pause for you to regain your composure after this revelation.

If you know me personally, you know that my highbrow film director of choice is Peter Greenaway, not Ingmar Bergman; my classical musical tastes running to Purcell or Gilbert & Sullivan, rather than... whoever the Swedish composers are. Even with the Muppets, I always preferred Sam the Eagle to the Swedish Chef. I have just never really cared about Sweden. I don't even like Swedish fish.

More Robert Bork than "Bork bork bork!"

My other half, at least, has an interest in some things Swedish, if you count ABBA, and Ikea's meatballs. Can we assume this swedophile tendency accounts for at least 25% of his affection for me?

If you know me through this blog alone, you will know that the ancestry I have written about is primarily British (either English or Scotch-Irish), with occasional forays into France and Denmark, but never Sweden. Until now.

This Scandinavian heritage comes to me by way of my paternal grandmother, Hazel Lucille Erickson (6 Sep 1910 - 6 May 2002); she is unique among my grandparents as she was the only first-generation American, born of immigrants. She loved all things Swedish, at least, and contributed elements of my costume, seen below, in a school pageant from second grade. (We sang a medley of "it's a small world" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands.") Inexplicably, I am holding a Danish flag, although I notice one of the girls in the front one does have a Swedish flag... lilla slyna.


"A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America."
Harper Elementary School, Fountain Valley California.

Anyway. Grandma Hazel's parents were Erick Albert Erickson (28 Aug 1864 - 27 Nov 1948) and Johanna Maria "Marie" Svärd ( Feb 1875 - 28 Apr 1914). Although both were born in southwest Sweden in the Västra Götaland area, they emigrated to America in 1888 and 1892, respectively. Erick, the oldest of nine children, came alone (his four youngest siblings following some years later); Marie seems to have arrived with or shortly after her only sister, Ida Carolina Svärd (29 Apr 1872 - 4 Nov 1952).

At any rate, by 1900, they were both living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Erick was working as a railroad foreman, while Marie was a waitress in her sister's cafe; perhaps that is where they met? They married on 17 January 1903, in Minneapolis.


Wedding Portrait.

The Erickson's first child, William Arvid Erickson (21 Jun 1905 - 18 Apr 1954), was born in 1905 in Hibbing Minnesota (where just a few years later the Greyhound Bus company would be founded), followed in 1910 by my grandmother. Interestingly, Hibbing is also the home town of Bob Dylan, who in nearly every way imaginable is the exact opposite of my grandmother Hazel, who, despite many nice attributes, was famously uptight and perpetually fussy, which seems to neatly put to rest the idea that environment has much to do with personality, but I digress....

The Ericksons remained in St Louis county, now home also to Erick's youngest three brothers, who worked the mines in the Iron Range. Then in 1914, Marie died, age thirty-nine, leaving her husband alone with two young children.

Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis Minnesota.
Photo courtesy of Reed and Mary Lou Erickson

Erick, William, and Hazel returned to Minneapolis, where Erick continued working as a railroad foreman. Sometime after 1920, my grandmother went to live with her aunt and uncle, Ida Carolina (Svärd) and Gustaf Ferdinand Erickson (5 Jun 1865 - 24 Jun 1943, and no apparent relation to her father), and their three children. My grandmother's cousin Grace B Erickson (22 Aug 1898 - 12 Apr 1993) was like an older sister to Hazel, and they remained close until her death.

From left: Hazel Lucille Erickson, Erick Albert Erickson,
 Grace B Erickson, Ida Carolina Svärd. Probably the late 'teens.

By 1930, my grandmother was living with the other Ericksons in Minneapolis, but neither her father nor brother William are to be found, at least on the 1930 U S Federal Census. It all balances out, however, as Erick, Marie and William appear twice on the 1910 Census, unless there happen to be two families with the same names, birth dates and locations, and father's occupation; both families living in St Louis County. Of course, with so many Swedish Ericksons in Minnesota at the time, anything's possible....

Erick Albert Erickson continued to work on the railroad for a few more years, finally retiring and living with his son William until his death in 1948. My grandmother met my grandfather, married, and had three boys.... But that story is for another time.


Left: my grandparents, Hazel Lucille Erickson and Leroy "Roy" Stanley Burnett.
At her feet is her cousin Russell Fillmore Erickson (11 Jun 1910- 3 Sep 1988).
Right: Hams indeed! Grandpa Roy, cousin Russell, and Grandma's brother William Arvid Erickson.

As I said, I've not had much interest in Sweden, and by extension that part of my family tree. Growing up, on summer vacations or other trips, my paternal grandparents, she prissy and humorless, he stern and humorless, were not much fun. So dour, so Swedish (at least in her case; he was a dour Yankee).

Seeing the photos above, however, I wish I had known them better.

1  Erick Albert Erickson (28 Aug 1864 - 27 Nov 1948), son of Erik Andersson (24 Oct 1830 -1917) and Anna Charlotte Clauson (5 Oct 1841 -1920), married Johanna Maria "Marie" Svärd (5 Feb 1875 - 28 Apr 1914), daughter of Johannes Svärd (3 Jun 1837 - 27 Oct 1917) and Katarina Larsdotter (8 Jun 1830 - 30 Jan 1896), on 17 Jan 1903, in Minneapolis Minnesota.

2  Hazel Lucille Erickson (6 Sep 1910 - 6 May 2002) married Leroy Stanley "Roy" Burnett (31 Aug 1910 - 11 May 1980), son of Alfred Nathaniel Burnett (19 Aug 1883 - 31 Jul 1959) and Jennie Arleta Eaton (14 Mar 1891 - 15 Apr 1979) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 21 June 1933.

3  [Living] Burnett married Beverly Alane Brown (8 Aug 1934 - 7 Mar 2010), daughter of Dana Earl Brown (26 Jan 1910 - 10 Sep 1984) and Myrna Margaret Severin (5 Nov 1907 - 12 Jun 1997), in Long Beach, California, on 4 March 1961.

4  Your humble blogger.

"There was never any more inception than there is now"

I love autumn, in part because of all the leaves changing colors in the trees.


I have always had an affinity for trees, if not quite at the Joyce Kilmer level. (And I cannot tell you how glad I am that I checked the precise definition of "arborphilia" before using it in conjunction with myself....) Once, when much younger, I cried when one of our trees was cut down.

Recently, one of the large trees in front of our home had to be removed (it was, in fact, nearly dead). Although I didn't cry, it did sadden me somewhat. Part of what I love about our village is that it is surrounded by woods, and that there are so many magnificent old trees in our neighborhood. The village is going to replace the tree (we have been a "Tree City" for many years running), but of course, that will mean some mere sapling.


Autumn, of course, does lead one to think about the "autumn of one's life" and all that implies as well. Regrettably, I may not live to see that sapling become a mature tree. And the same way that some trees reach the end of their natural life, the same is true for family trees. My family tree, in toto, is specific to only my sister and myself; neither of us have children. Certainly, cousins share one side or other, but the unique tree that is mine will not go any further than this generation.

Which leads me to consider family tree charts, and the mixed metaphors therein. The most common pedigree charts show someone as the trunk of the tree, with their parents and grandparents as limbs. More correctly though, it you are the trunk, shouldn't your forebears be the roots, a term we commonly use? And then your own children could be the limbs, putting yourself at the middle of the tree, rather like an hourglass chart. Not as picturesque, but more accurate.

Anyway, apparently I am a stump. A stump by choice, but a stump nonetheless. Which makes for a slight melancholy when I stop to think that my genealogy research--although a delightful pastime for me--will ultimately not be of much interest to anyone. (We will forgo any contemplation as to who--if anyone--it interests right now....)

Looking at the larger picture, what will be--if not my legacy, whatever that is-- the fate of the things I leave behind? Where will they go? Where will they end up? Thinking about people about whom I have posted here before, I cannot help but wonder: what became of Thomas Lombard's books or Adaline Ketchum's sewing machine? Frank Bursley Taylor and his wife Minnetta Amelia Ketchum lived long, prosperous lives but had no children; do any of their belongings still exist, and if so, where?

Which, in a more than usually roundabout way, leads me to this post's subject, a maternal great-grandfather, Clarence Edgar Brown.


Caption by his son, Dana Earl Brown.

Clarence was born 1 Dec 1878 in Missouri, the sixth of eleven children, the third (and last) son. After living briefly in Colorado, where his father, Silas W Brown (abt 1835 - 20 Nov 1883) attempted prospecting (!), the family returned to the Kansas City area.

By 1903 Clarence found his way to Minnesota, where, at age twenty-four, he married Cora Mabel Kinman. Their first son, Rex Hugh Brown, was born in Minneapolis 1 Jun 1905 but lived less than a year. (Both of my maternal grandparents lost a brother; I have sometimes wondered what they might have thought about this coincidence.) Shortly thereafter, the Browns moved to Fargo, North Dakota, where two other sons followed, Dana Earl Brown (my grandfather) in 1910, and Ray Edgar Brown in 1914.

As an adult, in true Brown fashion, Clarence possessed some inexplicable wanderlust, moving every few years and changing careers nearly as often. He worked variously as an insurance collector (and later, manager); salesman for retail giant Butler Brothers in Minnesota; and as an "advertising man" for a printing company.

Butler Brothers, a few years before Clarence's employment in the 'teens.
 The building is still there, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

From Pater, introducing his filium. About 1930.

I know of at least seven addresses for the Browns from 1905 to 1935, almost all in the Minneapolis area, sometimes living with the Kinmans, Clarence's in-laws.

In 1916, the Browns are living with in-laws, so we know where they are.
 But where is Clarence? The postmark reads Salem, but: Salem where?
(And I have to note: I love his handwriting.)

Most of the houses and apartments in which the Browns lived are still there, which speaks well to Minneapolis' preservation efforts. Here is another Kinman-Brown home, from about 1920 and today.


Originally built in 1909, it is mostly unchanged.

After about 1934, things get fuzzier. The last employment I am aware of for Clarence is the advertising job in 1930; the last address from 1934. It is also hard to get a grasp on his nature; in the few photographs I have, he is always looking rather stiff and stern, although there is a hint of smile, perhaps, in this formal portrait.


Probably about 1930.

When going through my mother's things after she died, I found all that remained of my grandparent's belongings. My family tends not to be nostalgic, or keep souvenirs; where I get that trait has yet to be determined.... There was very little from my grandfather's early years, and even less about his father: a few photographs in an album; the portrait, postcard, and business card shown above; and this satchel.


I am curious as to why it was kept, but oddly pleased to have it. There were also two letters from Clarence, one from 18 May, the other 30 June 1937, written to his wife, Cora. They were sent from Jonesboro, Louisiana. Here is the latter in its entirety:

Dear Cora,

Just read Ruth's letter [I am unsure who this is] as she states you are back from hospital, will write you at the home address. [Cora was recovering from an accident in which she broke her hip and wrist.] By the way, she addresses the letter to Clarence and they know me at the Post Office as C.E., so will be more sure of getting it if addressed "C.E.", as I think there is a nigger gets mail by the name of "Clarence."

Surely glad to hear that the bed sore has responded to treatment, but indeed sorry to hear that they had to do the setting of the wrist over again. However it is no doubt better to have it done right, as in the other way it may have been so it was crooked and also might have lamed you for life. I surely hope the hip is coming along all right and that you are getting along finally. Will certainly  be fine when I can hear from you direct, as there is much more satisfaction that way. However, I appreciate the kindness of Ruth in writing and letting me know while you cannot write.

It has been quite hot here  during the month and I imagine it will be hotter yet during July and August. Watermelon and canteloupes are now coming in down here. Have not had any yet, but hope to get a slice or two of watermelon soon. Can get a pretty good size one for 20¢. Hot weather has pretty well put business on the stand still around here, as they like to get in the shade. Have been doing a little from time to time, but have not been able to get two or three days work following one another. However, I managed to pinch off a little money for you and am sending same, enclosed $5.00 and hope you get the letter okay, without delay. Hope to be able to send more, soon. Well, there is no news, so will close, hoping that you are rapidly recovering and will be in fine shape soon.

As always, with much love, Clarence

P.S. Mail to this town, as usual and if I leave (which I will do soon) I will leave forward address.

Apart from making me wonder what Clarence's latest employment might have been, I could not imagine why this particular letter, admitting itself that there was no real news in it, had been kept. It was not until I learned that Clarence died just two months later, on 21 August 1937, that I realized: it must have been the last letter they ever received from him. He was fifty-eight.

Just two brief letters and a postcard, a satchel, and a few pictures. Dried leaves, once brightly colored, from a life.
 
Clarence in Florida in 1926. Still dour and suited, but perched on a palm tree.
Unlike the autumn foliage that began this post,  palm trees--like memories-- are evergreen.


1. Clarence Edgar Brown (1 Dec 1878 - 21 Aug 1937), married Cora Mabel Kinman (4 Sep 1876 - 22 Aug 1958), daughter of William Edwin Kinman and Sarah Jane Conley, on 16 Sep 1903, in Morgan, Minnesota.

2. Dana Earl Brown (26 Jan 1910 - 10 Sep 1984) married Myrna Margaret Severin (6 Nov 1907 - 12 Jun 1997), daughter of John Jacob "Jack" Severin and Isabelle "Belle" Runser, on 21 Oct 1933, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

3. Beverly Alane Brown (8 Aug 1934 - 7 Mar 2010) married [Living] Burnett, son of Leroy Stanley Burnett and Hazel Lucille Erickson, on 4 Mar 1961, in Long Beach, California.

4. Your humble blogger.