A little here and there


I think the point of having this blog is not only to continue to be challenged for the 52 Ancestors writing prompts, but to be able to share what I have found during research to family who may be interested. So here goes…

My great-great grandfather, Sarazin Trahan was born 1 October 1831 in Lafayette, Louisiana area. I am slowly putting together some other pieces of his life outside of what I have found in Census records, but the one point I’m trying to make in this is from an actual census record – 1900.

Let’s go back a few steps first.  So he was married twice – first to a lady named Azemie Pelagie Trahan, the marriage was 20 Feb 1854.  They had 11 children.  I did not have much info on the death dates of each of his children, so that was my goal today (on Easter) to work on getting whatever info I could.  The second marriage was to my great-great grandmother, Marguerite Breaux (May 1862 – ?  ).

Their children – Hubal (wonder how that is pronounced?) lived from 1855-1920, Alexandre (1856-1946). Dolzee (1858-1934), Ignace (1861-1920), Azamie (1869-1930) and Onezippe (1870-1906) all lived to adulthood but there were five other children I had no definitive info on how long they lived. Louisiana State Death records were very non-specific and mostly just gave years that they died with nothing additional provided.  So in the Louisiana State Death index, I was able to find these:

Eliza – 1872 – 1873

William 1873 – 1874

Joseph 1874 – 1875

Suzanne 1874 – 1875 (Suzanne was approximately 7 months after Joseph, which is possible but not surprising that she didn’t survive).

However, I still needed info on Jean. I had found a reference to Jean, of the same parents, who was born 30 Apr 1866 like “my” Jean and it said he died a year later.  But, something lead me to the 1900 Federal census where I was trying to confirm who was in the household with my great-grandmother Marie (Lourdes) after my great-great-grandfather Sarazin remarried Marguerite Breaux after his first wife, Azemie, died in 1899.

1900 census Trahan, Sarazin & Marguerite Breaux Guess who was still alive and listed? That’s right – Jean.  He was listed as a “traveler” and unemployed, but his birth date matched.  He also appeared below while I was searching newspapers – in a Sheriff’s sale of land vs. his father Sarazin a few years earlier.  I haven’t determined whether the sale was a conflict between the two or a sale from one to the other.

So, back to the census.  This 1900 Census revealed that Marguerite gave birth to 4 children, but only one was still living in 1900 –  my great-grandmother, Marie Lourde.  So, my next wall is to discover who these children were.

Side note: I did happen to accidentally come across an amazing newspaper source, provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities: US Newspaper search.

Until next time!


52 Ancestors #9 Where There’s A Will


OK, y’all, I’m interpreting this literally:  it’s a WILL.  I would love to spend hours on this blog, but as I work full time and am a full time single parent, I just don’t quite have the energy to make it professional.  The photo above is what I imagine Massachusetts might look like… so just go with me on that.

The Woodworths line of my family is my paternal Grandmother’s line – Walter Woodworth is the first generation that I am aware of – born about 1612 in County of Kent, England.  I do not currently have his wife’s name (I believe it’s estimated in the article below, but I’d like to verify a little more).  He had 10 children – all born from about 1641 to 1664.  They settled Scituate, Plymouth County, Mass.  The rest of my family continues from Walter’s son Benjamin, to Benjamin’s son Caleb (#10 of 11 children), then to Gershom (#1 of 11 –  born in either Lebanon or Salisbury, Conn), Caleb (#6 of 11), Caleb Jr (#3 of 8), Caleb Ambrose (#2 of 12 – Tyre, New York), Benjamin Franklin (#3 of 6 – Seneca Falls, NY).  Hey sister, Karen – can you scout Seneca Falls out for me since you are closer?  Finally Mary Eleanor Woodworth from Larkin, Atchison County, Kansas (#1 of 3) – my great great grandmother.

So, you should enjoy this one:  1612 Woodworth, Walter property list is a copy land records that I have come across for Walter Woodworth.  (You will have to zoom in about 8 or 9 times to get it large enough) – but it’s so interesting to see the style of handwriting, the prose that it was written in. About 1620 Land records from Massachusetts.

Here is the example of the Will and Testament for Walter:

Woodworth Walter – Will & testament – Scituate MA — is a transcribed copy – thanks to the source who provided this on Find A Grave – as there aren’t Federal Census’ at this time!  (Have to get creative in looking!)  I wasn’t able to get the actual photo to post on this page…. 😦

Thoughts about this will?  Did you see how it was divided amongst the four sons and six daughters?  What about the items that were distributed?

Of course, if you live in the central south like me, you have NO idea where Scituate Massachusetts is – so Google maps is handy.  Very cool that he assisted in the layout of the town!  This tells some about Scituate, MA.  (If you keep reading, part of the article mentions people coming in from County of Kent, England to settle – this would be the Woodworths!)

This (below) has the BEST handwriting ever!  This is the appropriation of land to those settling in Scituate, MA – including Walter, sons Thomas and Joseph.

1612 Woodworth, Walter appropriation of land in Scituate, MA

All very enjoyable finds – and now I’ll go keep looking for more info on Walter’s lovely wife.

52 Ancestors, 52 weeks #8 Heirloom

Our family heirloom is a pocket watch that was passed down from our Great-grandfather, Avery Brink Wight, to my Grandfather, Avery Bruce to my brother Avery James.

Avery Brink (spouse, Mary Eleanor Woodworth), born in January 1878 in Kechi, Kansas, served in the Spanish-American War (Phillippines) as well as being a Major in the Army during World War I.  After the war, he became a State bank examiner in Cashion, Oklahoma.

Funny (or sad, depends) story regarding the watch:  Mom and Dad kept it until my brother was old enough (my dad may still have it, not sure).  Along with several other valuable things, but not locked up.  When I was in high school, we took a family trip to Paris, France, as my mother was a French teacher and my sisters and I had been studying French for a couple of years in high school. We had hosted over two previous summers, French exchange students and they were ready to show us their “home.” We had friends checking up several times a day on our house, pets, and the property.  Even with all that “security,” someone broke into our house while we were gone.  When we returned, among other things, the cars had been taken, my mother’s camera, a reel-to-reel we used to watch 8mm home movies on (this is the one I missed the most!), but thankfully (!!) all the jewelry – including the gold watch – had been left behind.

My great grandfather moved from Enid back to Cashion after Mary Eleanor died and was an undersheriff, after 1946 until he died in 1955.


52 Ancestors 52 weeks #7

This is a tale of History – “Her“-story.  (My mom had a book that was rightly called “Herstory” and as we were both history fanatics, I have never forgotten.)

This week’s theme is “Valentine.”  To be honest, I was going to skip it.  I’m not a very “Valentine” -ish person and I don’t like to be pigeon-holed into being predictable and telling the token love story.  But, I changed my mind at 9:06pm this evening while researching and landed upon a “Valentine-ish” story anyway.

So, my maternal side, from my grandfather William Sutherland, goes back to Oil City, Pennsylvania (where he was born), to his father Anthony, who was also born in Oil City, Pa.  Several of  Anthony’s older siblings (Anthony was #9 of 12) were born in Canada and one possibly in Ohio.  (Here’s what I have so far, just for full disclosure: Older siblings William Sutherland Jr (abt 1858), Wilbur (abt 1866), Cora (abt 1868) were possibly born in Canada.  John H (Oct 1870) born in Cleveland, OH.  The rest of the family is Alec (abt 1873 PA), Katherine (May 1875, Oil City), Thomas (abt 1877 PA), Anythony (1 Aug 1878 Oil City, PA), Charlotte (1 Jan 1880), Elsie J (31 Mar 1880 PA) and Georgina.  I am not sure if Georgina is actually the youngest, or if she has a birth date between William and Wilbur as there are quite a few years between them.

I haven’t ventured to Canada yet, I’m trying to focus in US and logically work back.  As names go, William Sutherland is one you check, double check and recheck.  Thank goodness the witness is listed on legal documents usually helps since it’s a family member so you know it’s the right one.

As in a previous story, when I came across William’s wife’s death certificate, Elsie J was the witness.  For her employment description, she was listed as a companion, which to me is very heartwarming.  As previously told, she took in her nieces and nephew when her brother died.  She is listed as a witness on several death certificates, which must have been tough to be the one always reporting them.  Can you imagine?  She is the witness on the death certificate for Margaret, her mother.  So, I had found Margaret: maiden name Connors, born 25 July 1838 in Kingston, Ontario Canada.  Daughter of Jeremiah (William?) Connors and Mary (Margaret) Fowler.  Margaret (Connors) Sutherland died 17 Apr 1922 in Oil City, PA. I had settled in to spend some time finding William J Sutherland.  Luckily, there weren’t many in PA.  Then, I found William’s death certificate.  I was floored.

They died on the same day.

What is sad is that his status was listed as “widowed” – but in the doctor’s notes, he was listed as having problems with being “senile” for a number of years.  Daughter Kathrine McQuown is the witness.

Next, I went to the newspapers.  I figured that something like this would be described in more detail in the papers, and I was right.  The copy is not very legible, but on 18 Apr 1922, the papers in Oil City list that this couple, who had been separated and living (??) with family or being cared for somewhere, were not aware of the other’s passing.  Margaret died in the morning.  William died later that same day.  He was 80 years old, she was 83.

Truly a valentine’s story, when your other half is gone and you follow them to Heaven on the same day.

I’m hoping to get a better copy of the Oil City Derrick article and when I do, I will post it here.


52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks – week 6

what's in a name jpg

THEME of the week: What’s in a NAME?

At least once, you’ve probably thought a lot about your name – looked up it’s meaning, where it’s from, and so on.  (Rachel is Hebrew/biblical, meaning “ewe.”  My mother is not around to ask why they chose this name for me, but my guess is that since I was the first grandchild on both sides – and being a Catholic family – Rachel fit the pattern.  My dad’s side had all the Catholic names: James, Joseph, Mary, Richard, Charles, Cecilia, Martha, Margaret, and John (yes aunts and uncles – I did not put them in order on purpose….).

If you have children, more than likely you have considered many of names for your family’s next generation from too many options:  family name, best friend, name you have saved for years (I have a friend who mentioned once to me what her daughter’s name was going to be when she had one – and we were in 7th grade)!  There are even those whom have taken names from favorite singers, actors (or their character from the movie), and of course, books!  There’s no end to ideas. (I’d love to hear if someone has heard of random way that someone they knew where they got a unique name from – I love these stories!)

So, back on task.  I actually have two favorite names – one I found by accident –  and the other I have had as a favorite for years.

I came across this one in my family tree:  Jasper.

Jasper Crane had both a son and grandson named Azariah (another great name you don’t hear very often).  From my records, Jasper was born 8 July 1599 in Middlesex, England.  I don’t have any info regarding his marriage, but at the time of his death, he had settled in New Haven, Connecticut.  He apparently helped to establish Newark, New Jersey (without saying for sure if the existing New Jersey boundary was the current one or Newark was included in a different state).  Was he a kind man, what was his education, and the reasons why he came to the United States?  

One of the interesting things about Jasper: there are so many variations in multiple languages:  (taken from http://www.behindthename.com).

VARIANTS: CasperKasper (Dutch)CasparGaspar (Judeo-Christian Legend)
OTHER LANGUAGES/CULTURES: CasperJesperKasper (Danish)Gaspard (French)Kaspar 
(German)GáspárGazsi (Hungarian)GaspareGasparo (Italian)Kaspars (Latvian)
Kasparas (Lithuanian)CasperKasper (Norwegian)Kacper (Polish)
Gaspar (Portuguese)Gašper (Slovene)Gaspar (Spanish)CasperKasper (Swedish)
My other favorite name:  Saul
I have loved this name ever since I heard it – it is also my maternal Great-grandfather’s name: Saul Begnaud.  (there is no shortage of great names – there’s a Sarazin Trahan, too!)  What I would wish for though, is to hear it spoken in my ancestors’ native tongue – Acadian French.  We can anglicize it because we don’t know how it’s pronounced – but to hear someone’s name as it was intended to be spoken, now that would be fabulous!  (My Cajun cousins have the neatest accents, I could listen to them all day!)  
I know that he was born in 1891 and lived most of his life between Scott, Louisiana and Port Arthur, Texas, but I would love to know more about the man behind the name.  
So, I’m going to leave it at that, and continue researching more…. about Newark, about Louisiana, about Jasper and Saul, trying to find more info about the people behind the names I love.






52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks #5

If anyone wants to follow along the original!  Enjoy!

52Ancestors LOGO

Full disclosure here – these prompts are really challenging.  To say the least, you think you have done a lot of research, and then the question comes up – (like this one for this week) “talk about what is IN THE CENSUS.”  The question I ask myself: How best to pull up the research that you have marked, notes you have made on things to follow up on, who to look for, what is missing in your research, it is quite daunting.

(I am singing like Dory “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” in her sing song cheerful voice…).  So, I will talk about just one census that I came across that I wasn’t putting two and two together, until I saw it.

So, here it goes:

My Great-grandfather, Anthony Sutherland, was born 1 Aug 1878 in Oil City, Pennsylvania. In 1900 he was listed in the census as a baggage handler for the Pennsylvania railroad.  In the next census, he had moved up to railroad inspector (nice!).  His wife, Kathryne Anna Jensen, was born in Sept 1886 to Danish parents Hans Peter Jensen and Helena Beck (I was so excited to find these two officially).

Children of Anthony and Kathryne: Helena “Toots”, Mary-Kathryn, William James (my grandfather), Frances Eleanor, Elsie Louise, David, Anthony Jr and Charlotte.  For the most part, nice healthy family.  Mary-Kathryn died in 1930 at the age of 22 of pneumonia and influenza (scary thought in this season.  God bless modern medicine!). Frances Eleanor died of diphtheria in 1919 at the age 8.

So all good, right? Nope. Anthony decided to talk to someone while walking on a busy street, went across the street to get a ride and got hit by a car.  His injuries were too severe for him to survive at the hospital, with multiple broken bones in his both legs.  The death certificate is always interesting to look at. Anthony Sutherland Death Certificate 1927  Within three years, Kathryne followed him, passing away in 1930.

Kathryne was alive during the 1930 census in April, her death not until October.  But if you look at the 1930 census, she had four younger children still at home along with William.  But, only William (who was 19), Elsie and Irene are listed still living in the house in 1930. Not David (12) and not Anthony (10).  Why?  When I looked for them individually, there were listed as being occupants at the Bethesda House, in Crawford, PA.

An orphanage.

1930 census Pennsylvania – Sutherland Kathryn 

1930 census Sutherland, Anthony & David_orphanage


But by 1940, Aunt Elsie (Anthony’s sister, Kathryne’s former sister-in-law) came and helped.  Thank goodness.  See above.

Finding these always raises more questions than provides answers…. but there you go.  Family history – the good and the bad!



~ Rachel

52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks #4

Nova Scotia map

The proverbial “Brick Wall” and the opportunity to knock it down!

Assignment / topic for this session is “Who (which ancestor) would you have dinner with?” Weeeeeelllll, do I have to pick just one??!!  NO, absolutely not (since you ask)! So, I’m inviting them all over together in one place – a room, if you will.

OK, so how about we play a little game: let’s say we are having food to cover the topic of the dinner, and play a version of “Do you know your ancestor?” This is like the baby shower game where you ask questions about the mom-to-be and see if you know her as well as you should.  In this case, the questions would be asked and as soon as the Ancestor identifies themself, they can fill in the rest of the details!  (I just tend to make up my own games… )

Ready, set, go……

So, imagine a variety of people – Acadians from Nova Scotia in farmer clothing, French sailors, former farmers, pipeline and oil workers from Pennsylvania,  and more.  Everyone starts to gather in a room and finds a seat, waiting.  Some are talking softly in their own languages, others carefully watching to see what happens next.

First question:

*Who rode horseback along the Sabine Pass during WWI watching for submarines?  (Saul Begnaud – great grandfather/maternal side) – Saul stands up, waving his hand.  Then I ask, “tell me more about riding along the beaches, watching for subs.  What you would do if you saw a sub?!!!” So, he begins telling his story….

*Who immigrated from St. Etienne, France before 1786 to move to Louisiana? – Francois Begnaud (Sr) in his gravelly voice identifies himself,  “C’est moi.”  So, I attempt my rusty French… “Est-ce que vous pouvez dites-moi pour’quoi Francois?”  (a little French history, y’all, France’s independence happened in 1789 so things were not quite so fun at this time, I imagine.)  I am enjoying listening to his French-cadence while he speaks…

*Who is willing to talk about providing money to start the Begnaud School and starting their own business, buying a building in Lafayette in 1899? A young gentleman, bright smile, wearing a business suit, jumps up and is so excited – this would be Simeon Begnaud, son of Alexandre Joseph Begnaud and Eliza Constantin.  the tenth child out of 14, (a distant cousin of mine). Begnaud, Simeon – finances Begnaud School

*OK, railroad inspector – please stand.  That would be my Great grandfather, Anthony Sutherland, ninth of 12 children. Tell me, Great-Grandfather, about about railroads of 1910 and what you did as an inspector in Oil City, Pennsylvania.  Did you get to travel?  Was it reliable or dangerous?  William Sutherland, Jr, his father, also wants to tell us a bit about being a blacksmith, from Kingston, Ontario, Canada before 1900.  He has a slight Scottish accent of his father, William Sr.

*How many only go by nicknames?  Care to explain how you got them?  Of course, all my Cajun ancestors start talking all at once, since they all have nicknames:   “Need” (Marie-Nedia), “Coo-Noo or “Coon” (Jean Ulinor), “Nan” (Marie-Lilia), “Boo” (my Grandmother Beulah), “Ban” (Great Grandmother Marie-Lourdes), “Toots” (Aunt Helena Margaret – a Sutherland) and one that needs no intro: “Te-weeze (Little Louise) or Elmer” = my mother!  (several of my mom’s cousins had nicknames preceeded by “Te” which in French is short for petit(e), or little).

*Ok, on a more serious note – I would like to direct this question to several of you and hear what really happened:  Who had to leave their homes Port Royal, Acadia (Canada) and were forcibly moved back to France, Louisiana, Maine or other places?  Several of them are looking at each other, waiting for a spokesperson, who is willing to tell this story.  It’s very painful and not one they would like to relive.  After several quiet moments, Claude Trahan (the first part of this name Tra- is pronounced like “saw” and –han rhymes with “fawn“) stands up.  He was born about 1694 in Pisiguit, Acadia (Current Nova Scotia).  “Sir, I say, I would love to know anything about what you did for a living and how you survived Nova Scotia’s winters.”  His daughter, Anne, was also born in Acadia (Port Royal) and made the move to Lousiana, but died at the young age of 36, in 1773.  It’s a long story to tell.  (for any history buffs, check HERE for an indepth history lesson.  For anyone wanting the short version: In 1604, some travelers from France settled in the Nova Scotia area of modern day Canada.  Few survived the first winter, but they stayed, living with the Mi’kmaq Indians; then more came in the coming years.  They successfully learned to live and farm off the land (marshy, salt water, developing unique ways to work with the big tides) until the early 1700’s.  Enter the British.  Fertile land, too few British people (demanding alliance of these Acadians to the British monarchy), too many Acadian French (who wanted no part this demand, only to stay neutral and live and work the land).  So, these Acadians, or Cajuns, were kicked out in 1755, thrown to the winds on ships, to be sent back to France, or Louisiana or numerous other remote places. Some died (like Claude, at sea about 1759).  It’s a story that should be talked about more.  I can see in Claude’s eyes he’s happy that we are telling it, even though it’s a painful story. 

Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History LOGO

My closing to everyone – thanks for coming, sharing your stories.  I would hug every one of you if I could.

Rae Rae

52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks Cajun Style #3b

I thought I would go ahead and continue from last week since I have more family stories to keep the LONGEVITY theme going.   This is from my English side of the family Woodworth(ward) and Irish side Powers.

My grandmother was the youngest girl in a family of 10 children on the POWERS side: James “Jimmy”, Francis, Raymond, Mary Genevieve, Catherine (Sister Theresa Joseph), Gertrude, Joseph (Father Joe), Teresa, Thomas, John.  Her brother “Jimmy” was a sports editor for the NY News (Times).  Powers Jimmy NY Times article is a fun article to read and the humor of the Powers’ comes through.  I’m loving the fact that some will recognize the typewriter style… I never had the pleasure of meeting any of my grandmother (Teresa)’s siblings, nor her parents.  So, this LONGEVITY is hoping to keep the stories alive.  I’m asking my dad, aunts and uncles: Mary Anne, Chuck, Richard, John, Martha and Cecilia to share their memories!

…and the next one would be WOODWORTH, who originally were WOODWARD; their name changed after Walter Woodward died, per his request.  His son Ben, executor of his father’s will, signed Woodworth on 2 March 1686.  Woodworth Family History MASTER is their story.

Uncle Chuck, does Stacy know she is not the first “O’Dowd” to marry a Wight?



52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks, Cajun Style #3

(family names:

Daddy = William James Sutherland  (from previous post #2)

mamma = Beulah Begnaud

Ban =  Marie Lourdes Trahan)

OK, so far so good.  This week’s challenge is Longevity.

Very interesting, don’t you think? Could be time spent on a job, could be age one lives to, could be the amount of time you spend actually looking for someone because they are your brick wall in your research and you feel like you have been looking forever!

I can’t really talk about longevity of a career or job – I feel like some is due to any given situation (helping the family work the farm). Age is some genetics, some location and some luck (i.e. my ancestor who got killed crossing the street) so we’ll never know how old he was supposed to be.

So, to me, longevity is keeping the stories alive for generations.  I have just started coming across a letter here, newspaper article there.  For this example, I am going to share some of the story that my mother generously put down on paper for us kids.

As told by Eleanor Sutherland Wight from L.O.V.E. week = “Listening to Older Voices of Experience” hosted by her childrens’ school:  (I have inserted a few of my own memories that are sparked by some of mom’s)

Mom smiling pic Eleanor Sutherland Wight (Dec 1944 – Nov 1987)

I was born in Columbia, SC.  Daddy was in the service (Air Force) for WWII.  I flew to Texas at 9 months of age.  We all lived with “Ban” (mamma’s mother – that was short for grandmother).  Housing was scarce after the war.  Our house was a white wood-frame house in Port Arthur, Tx.  In those days, everyone only had one car so most of the houses only had one garage. We had gas heating, no air conditioning but an attic fan. (Rachel’s note: we also had an attic fan growing up – a HUGE blessing in Okla heat – to keep the cooling bills down) 

K (sister) and I shared a room. Each had a twin bed and a tiny closet (about 3′ wide), one chest of drawers between the beds with three drawers each in it for our clothes.  There was one large hall closet for toys and extras.   I loved to decorate my closet door – I cut things out or colored them and hung them up.  I loved to stay up nights late and read.  Often I’d read by flashlight under the covers after I was in bed. I liked mystery stories.  

The bathroom had a porcelain tub with a shower, a toilet and small sink built in and a gas wall heater for that room. 

The kitchen had a gas stove and oven (mamma didn’t like to light it in the summer, it got the kitchen too hot), a double sink, a refrigerator, no dishwasher.  We had a washing machine, no dryer but a clothes line.  The floors were wood and the kitchen and bath were tile.  The kitchen counter as tile.  A large back yard with no trees and St. Augustine grass.  We planted fast growing trees.  The house cost $10k and was about 1000 sq. ft max but probably not that big.  We lived in a subdivision with three streets built all at the same time; all houses almost the same.   By high school we got window air conditioners for our house. 

Daddy was a pumper at the Atlantic Refinery and worked shift – 8 to 4p one week, 4p to 12 one week, 12 to 8a one week and off one week.  Mamma was a full time homemaker.  Daddy had a full basketball scholarship to college (he was 5’8″ but no one was very tall and he played high school basketball) but his parents died and he had to work to support the family.  He was from PA; he moved to TX  with the refinery.  Mamma wanted to be a nurse, but due to the depression and war she didn’t go past high school.  

I went to Immaculate Conception Catholic School for grades 1-8 in Groves, TX.  Children didn’t go to pre-school or kindergarten so usually first grade was the first school experience and quite scary.  Sister Norberta was my first grade teacher and about 60 kids were in the class.  We had wooden desks with the seat attached to a writing top, a groove for the pencil and a space for books under the seat.  (Rachel’s note: Mom must have found one very similar if not the same as this at an antique store because I remember one being placed on our front porch at our house growing up!)

I always did well in school; in fact, I was probably bored lots of the time.  In first grade, we had reading phonics, math, singing (which I hated) and went to mass first thing every day at 830am.  We had recess at 10am and I looked forward to that to eat a snack.  (my sisters and I still tend to be hypoglycemic – which sounds like mom was too. Mom eventually taught French at our high school and would let us eat peanut butter crackers in class to ward off the hunger pains – Rachel) I either brought my lunch in a sack or Mamma came and got us to eat at home.  Especially if Daddy was working 4-12, we ate our big meal at noon.  We got out at 330pm. 

I hated (or was bored) by phonics – it was last in the afternoon and I pretended to be asleep so I wouldn’t have to answer! 

Most of my teachers were nuns who wore the long habits and were so conservative and strict.  About fourth grade, I remember my days of school as a troublemaker.  Lorraine and I would stir up things.  We used to hide in the bathroom and avoid mass and come out just in time to walk to class with others.  We’d duck walk to our seats. 

I always did my homework at the last minute and memorized poems as she went through the students alphabetically.  I knew it by the time she got to “S.”

Mamma made our clothes.  They were material that had to be ironed.  She’d sprinkle them with water and keep them damp in the refrigerator before ironing.  Our refrigerator had to be defrosted – ice formed on the freezer – that was a chore.  Floors had to be waxed.  Mamma kept a neat house – and clean.

Every four years Daddy got a summer vacation and we drove to PA.  It took three days in a car without air conditioning.  We’d leave early, like 530am and get our driving in and quit by 4pm.  No interstate highways. No chain motels, no fast food restaurants.  We carried ice chest and ate breakfast and lunch at roadside picnic tables (1950 Studebaker, grey color).  (Rachel:  Mom also had us taking an ice chest on trips and we would stop at rest stops along the way from Okla to Galveston/Port Arthur, TX to eat along the way. No fast food either.  We would not, however, leave very early but would stop once along the way to sleep at a motel!)

One of my distinct memories of PA is Paul took us in the barn and I hated the smell.  He milked a cow and squirted a cat in the face for us.  We didn’t like the warm milk.  

We had a parakeet – “BeeBee.”  He was so tame – he would sit on your shoulder and was allowed to fly all over the house.  He sat on a pot handle on the stove – Mamma kept the double boiler there all the time.  Then he flew to a mirror in the hall and would circle the house and land on your head.  He slept in his cage at night. We had him several years and were real attached to him.  Mamma was so kind hearted and loved pets.  

We had a 1950 Studebaker – grey and the ugliest car imaginable.  About 1960 we got a Rambler.  We were in a car pool for high school, but once in a while we could take the Rambler to school.  I loved it – the front seats laid back and touched the back seats so it made a flat surface.  We’d go across the street and get hamburgers and lay the seats down to eat.  (Rachel’s note – funny story – growing up my three siblings and I, we had a ugly blue Dodge van that mom called “the Queen Mary” since it was so big and difficult to maneuver.  It had a bench seat in the very back that would lay down ad we could sleep or play games on during trips.  In the middle of the van was two swivel bucket chairs that we could turn sideways, and a metal pole that fit in the floor of the van, and a table that would rest on the pole we would use for eating on and games.  Imagine a metal pole in the car!  We could get up and walk around in the van while mom and dad were driving!)

Our family was not big on traditions.  We had none for the big holidays.  Xmas we got a tree – a real pine tree (not artificial and never flocked – painted with spray snow).  We put an angel on top with that fine hair made of fiberglass and we used some of Bans decorations.  I was always bad at opening presents and wrapping them back up.  (Rachel: Yes, mom was terrible at this, and she thought us kids would be too, so growing up, she would wrap our four gifts (four kids) in matching wrapping paper, and another four in different wrapping paper, and NOT label ANY of them.  We would have no idea whose gift was whose until we started opening gifts on Christmas eve.  We would also hide mom’s gifts at friends houses so she would not peek!

I’m sharing a photo that almost has to be included – this is myself with my sisters, Karen and Renee and our brother Avery (the youngest) – as we are getting ready to go out and chop down our real Christmas pine tree.  The other photo I have (somewhere but haven’t posted) includes our Dad and one of us kids holding the ax that Dad used to chop the tree. It’s  like something out of “Worst family Christmas photos” or something.  We think it’s hilarious! It’s lucky we didn’t get stuck with any woodland creature as we were dragging in the pine tree from some random place on our property!   xmas tree hiking photo ski masks


Thanks to Amy for providing guidance, tutorials and photos – very appreciated!

For my own reference, the next two weeks will cover Invite to Dinner (#4) and In the Census (#5).  I’d love to hear what you think after each one which helps me write.  Thanks all for listening!

52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks Cajun Style #2

The assignment for 2nd week is a favorite photo.  I don’t know about you guys but if you are a genealogist, it is REALLY hard to pic a favorite…. it’s like trying to pick a favorite movie, or song, when there are different ones that fit different moods.  So, I will continue this theme in the future, but I’ll start with this one: 


My grandfather, William James Sutherland, is the one in the back row in the middle.  The reason I started with this photo is because it’s so mysterious.  I don’t know anything about the crew he was on, nor the plane he was working on; just that he was in the Army-Air Corps before it split (Army and Air Force) and was about to deploy when the war ended in 1945.  So, having a mystery keeps you working, keeps you focused, keeps you curious and leaves you open to learning from others.  So, I’m hoping to get this photo out there and hopefully make a new connection with my grandfathers’ crew-mates and hear a story or two.  

Army Air Corp flyersutherland_019_tif

William was born in 10 Aug, 1910 in Oil City, (Venango County), Pennsylvania.  He was child #4, the oldest boy of eight children, born to Anthony Sutherland and Anna Kathryne Jensen.  The children in order were Helena (“Toots”), Elsie, Mary-Kathryn, William, Frances, David, Anthony Jr, and Charlotte.  He was forced to drop out of high school when his father, who was crossing a busy street,  died due to fractures in both legs. He went to work for Atlantic (Refinery) in PA and then the company moved him to Port Arthur, Texas. I’m hoping he was happy with the warmer climate!  The photos of him playing tennis and on the beach says he was!

In Texas is where he met my Cajun grandmother Beulah Begnaud, but that is a story for another time! I did include the photo above because my grandfather rarely smiled in photos and I love seeing him smile (holding my mother, Eleanor).  

My task right now is to get additional info from a cousin of mine about the type of plane this is, where it was stationed at, what type of work my grandfather did and all sorts of fun things that have come up.

If you check here you will find a fun map of all the Texas WWII Army airfields that were in existence.

Until next time!