Friday, November 9, 2018

Lost relatives from Pennsylvania

I've been traveling as well as working on a special World War II letter project so don't have my usual ancestor timeline prepared this week. So instead, I'll share three photos from the collection of my husband's grandmother, Bertha Edna Smith. The children and young men in these photos are unknown to me. They were more than likely friends and/or family members of Bertha's and probably lived in or near Apollo, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. If not, Apollo, then in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. I estimate the photos were taken in the early 1900s to 1915. If you recognize anyone in these photos, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Share your photos and make a difference

The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “frightening.” This week's post is a stretch of the 52 Ancestors theme but I'm going with it!

If you read my weekly blog posts, you know that I periodically share photos from my husband’s uncle Ralph Murphy’s slide collection. If you’ve missed them, you can check them out here:
Water sports at Tygart Lake 
Nutter Fort, West Virginia Soap Box Derby
Warner’s Skyline Drive-In Theater
Vintage Christmas photos
52 Ancestors – no. 40: Anna B. Church – (week 24) (Anna (Church) and Everett Evans photos only)
Uncle Ralph’s slide collection, which dates from 1947 to 1984, contains wonderful photos of family members, friends, co-workers, and their travels. Unfortunately, many of the people in the photos are unidentified. Uncle Ralph passed away in 1998 so is no longer here to help with identification. On my husband Charlie’s last visit with Aunt Jean, he took printed copies of some of the slides. She enjoyed seeing the photos again but was unable to remember who most of the people were. So, I’ve made it a mission to share these photos on my blog in hopes that someone will stumble across them and recognize a family member. I’d love to be able to put names to the faces looking back at me.

When doing research for the Nutter Fort Soap Box Derby and Warner’s Skyline Drive-in posts, I contacted a couple of people I found on Facebook whom I thought might be able to help with my mission. I first contacted the Nutter Fort Volunteer Fire Department (NFVFD) about one of the photos in the Soap Box Derby collection which included a car clearly marked Nutter Fort Fire Department. I hoped to date the photo and then, if lucky, identify people in the photo. They shared the photo with their Facebook group and while no one recognized anyone, they were able to pinpoint a date and many of them shared memories of past Nutter Fort Soap Box Derbies. They told me they were able to use the photo to help “the younger members of the NFVFD learn about a piece of apparatus that they didn’t know much about and it also served as a great talking point to reminisce about on the Nutter Fort, WV Facebook group.”

The second person I contacted was Sam Caputo Jr., whom I believed to be the son of Sam Caputo, a previous owner of Warner’s Skyline Drive-in Theater in Clarksburg, West Virginia. I sent Sam a Facebook message in January 2018 to identify myself and tell him about the collection of drive-in photos. There was one photo I thought might be his parents, although if I’d thought about it, the photo was probably taken before his parents owned the drive-in. I asked Sam if he minded me sending the photo to him. I waited several weeks for a response but when I didn’t hear back from him, went ahead and posted the group of photos in February. Then finally, on October 9, I heard from Sam who said he didn’t check that account very often. Sam confirmed that he was in fact the son of the previous drive-in owners and he told me
… “the photos that you shared of the projection booth, ticket booth, concession stand, pond, screen and field are exactly as I remembered them as a small child. Over the years some modifications were made by my parents for a variety of different reasons. The most extensive one was the replacement of the screen that you mentioned being destroyed during a storm. I remember the day my dad was notified of the damage, being a small child, it was quite disheartening to see the look on his face. It was the same year his father was struck and killed by a train on his way to work. Unfortunately, I did not recognize any of the people in the photos, and none were of my Mother. My parents were not ones that took a lot of photos, believe it or not we have none. This blog brought a tear to my eye as the Skyline was operated primarily as a family operation which consisted of my parents, my two older sisters, and myself. For the longest time there may be only one person helping in the concession stand and the projectionist that were not family.” 
Sam went on to talk about the drive-in marquee. He wrote
… “Over the years it has been weathered, hit by vehicles, and damaged by storms. I recently replaced some of the facing and was able to salvage the original front and rear of the arrow. I own a small pest control company for 48 years and my office is on the drive-in property. Every day people from the community that remember the drive-in reminded me how the sign was considered an iconic part of the history of this area. Having been said I made repairs keeping as much of the original part of the marquee in an effort to keep the landmark alive.” 
Sam asked for copies of the photos, so I sent him digital copies of all of them. He wanted to
… “create some sort of album to give to my three children as they were the only grandchildren my parents had and were very attached to them and also got to enjoy the Skyline in their younger days.” 
Sam ended his email stating
… “Once again I am so grateful for the work and effort you provided in your blog spot. Had I not seen this, the memory of the Skyline would only have been the photos in my mind.
That last sentence stood out to me! It’s frightening to think about the photos sitting in boxes under beds, in albums stuck in closets, or who knows where else, stashed away for no one to see. We all need to make a point to digitize and share our photos so others can enjoy them. Especially the photos of past generations.

Ten days after Sam contacted me, he wrote again asking my permission to share my blog and photos on “a couple of Facebook pages regarding growing up in Clarksburg, WV.” He felt they
“would create quite an interest and possibly identify some of the people in the photos.” 
Sam must have posted a link to my Skyline Drive-in blog post because it's been viewed over 800 times in the last few weeks ... way more than normal!  I know there are people out there who would recognize the people in Uncle Ralph’s photos, as well as other photos my husband and I have inherited. I hope someone does recognize a family member or friend from long ago. My determination is even stronger now to continue my mission of sharing these wonderful snapshots of history.

Of course, I can’t post without including a few photos. Uncle Ralph was usually the person behind the camera, but every now and then, Aunt Jean (or someone) took the camera and managed to take a photo of Uncle Ralph. Below are a few of him found in his slide collection.

Raymond Murphy and Ralph

The Murphy brothers -- Earl, Glenn, Ralph, and Raymond

Ralph and his brother Glenn

Glenn and Ralph

Friday, October 26, 2018

Katie Lankford

The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “cause of death.” I’ve blogged about young Katie Lankford in the past, but only snippets of her life. This time, I’ll share everything I know about her. As it turns out, Katie’s cause of death was an unusual one, at least it was to me.

Katie Lankford, daughter of Wade Hamilton Lankford and Ada Blanche Culbertson, was a Christmas Eve baby, born in Greene County, Georgia on December 24, 1906. She was one of at least 11 children—Florrie Lankford, Corrie Mitchell Lankford, John Reed Lankford, Mozelle Elizabeth Lankford, Clyde R. Lankford, Katie Lankford, Ernest Cleveland Lankford, Lila Mae Lankford, Julius Lankford and two unknown to me. Katie would have been my 2nd cousin 3x removed. Our nearest common relatives are my 4th great grandparents, Charles L. Lankford and Miss Moore.

On April 22, 1910, Katie and her family lived in the Schull Shoals District of Greene County, Georgia. Her parents had been married for 20 years. Katie’s mother was enumerated as the mother of 11 children, 7 of which were living, so the family had already seen a lot of heartache. One of those children would have been Katie’s brother Julius. He wasn’t listed in the 1900 or 1910 census records so must have been born and died sometime during that decade. There is no date on his stone in Penfield Cemetery in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. In addition to family members, the census enumerator recorded a boarder living in the home—a 43-year-old man named W. B. Boswell. Both Katie’s father and Mr. Boswell were farmers on a general farm. It appears that some time after the 1910 census was taken, Katie and her family moved to Athens, Clarke County, Georgia.

On December 19, 1914, seven-year-old Katie wrote a letter to Santa that was published in the Athens Daily Herald. In her letter, Katie asked Santa to bring her a doll and doll carriage. She told Santa about her brother Cleveland who had been sick with typhoid fever for seven months. Katie wanted to make sure Santa didn’t forget her and her siblings that year.

Athens Daily Herald, Dec. 19, 1914

In 1915, Katie, her brother Cleveland, and sister Clyde all three became members of the Sandman Club. According to a news article published by the Athens Daily Herald on April 29, 1915, the club was formed to “organize for the boys and girls who read the Sandman stories” published in the Herald. The Herald noted “It’s a club that does things, and when once it gets started, it bids fair to rival some of the adventures of the Sandman stories themselves.” Children that joined the club received a button of membership. Charter members received the button for free. Once the list was closed, the buttons cost ten cents. Each week, these movie parties featured Charlie Chaplin and other Keystone comedy movies free to the children of Athens. During the summer months, the movie parties took place on Saturday afternoons. Once school started, they moved to Monday’s after school. The first Sandman Club event was held at the Lyric Theater on College Avenue the afternoon of June 5, 1915. The Sandman parties ran until March 1916 when the club was discontinued.

But the year 1915 was not all about fun—dark days were ahead. Before summer came to an end, Katie’s 16-year-old brother John died at their Hiawassee Avenue home in Athens on August 17. According to his sister Lila, John died of heart disease. He was buried at Penfield Cemetery the next day. The unthinkable happened a month later when Katie’s mother Ada died on September 13 at their Hiawassee Avenue home. Ada was only 37 years old and left seven children behind. She was also laid to rest at Penfield Cemetery. Sometime after the death of her mother and before Christmas, the family moved to a new home on Satulah Avenue in Athens. Was this because it was too hard to live in a home that a brother and mother had both just passed away in? Surely an air of sadness hung over the home that Christmas. The older children were now forced to help their father take care of the younger children. According to a Santa letter written by Katie’s sister Clyde on December 24 and published in the Athens Daily Herald, their father had to hire someone to take care of the children while he worked. Christmas would have been a meager one that year. Between probable doctor bills, funeral expenses, and the hired help, I would guess there was not much left to buy presents for the children.

On January 5, 1920, Katie and her family lived on Bryant Street in the 216th District of Athens, Clarke County, Georgia. Her father was a laborer in a cotton mill. Her older sisters Mozelle and Clyde were also working in the cotton mill, as winders. Her oldest sister, Florrie, had married Henry Cody, and together with their sons Belmond and Ralph, were also living in the home. Henry worked as a weaver in the cotton mill. The Brewer family lived next door. Katie’s sister Clyde would eventually marry their son Fred.

Katie attended Nantahala Night School in 1921, a year in which baseball was getting a lot of attention at the school. That year, the boy’s baseball team gained a “big brother” who coached and managed the team—a local Rotarian by the name of H. A. Pendergraph. In addition to Mr. Pendergraph, the baseball field was brought up to “first-class condition for games.” I know from experience what a difference the facility can make to a team so that in itself was big. Like many 14-year-old girls, Katie supported her school by attending the boy’s baseball games to cheer on their team. But Katie and some of her school mates wanted more. They wanted a team of their own, so according to the Athens Banner on May 18, 1921, chose “two practice teams under the captions of Reds and Blues, with the following line-ups: Reds.—Jessie Pledger (captain), p; Cleo Stephens, 1b; Lillie Brooks, c; Thelma Pledger, cf; Eunice Epps, 2b; Darline Pierce, 3b; Corinne Stephens, ss. Blues.—Mary Summers (captain), 1b; Inez Jackson, 2b; Floy Nunnally, p; Kate Langford, c; Lottie Waters, 3b; Ruby Summers, cf; Ola Epps, ss. Coach, Clemon Kirk.” On August 26, 1921, Katie and her sister Clyde attended a picnic supper with members of the Nantahala Night School baseball team and Athletic Association held at Barnett Shoals in Athens as reported by the Banner-Herald on August 28, 1921.

At the age of 16, Katie contracted maniacal chorea and died in an Athens hospital on April 19, 1922. She had been attended by her doctor for a month before her death. I had never heard of maniacal chorea (aka chorea insaniens), so of course I had to Google it. After going through many web pages, the best description was found in the English Glossary of Causes of Death and other Archaic Medical Terms. Maniacal chorea is “a grave form of chorea usually seen in women, and associated with mania, and usually ending fatally.” The glossary described chorea as “St. Vitus’s dance; a disease attended with convulsive twitching and other involuntary movements of the muscles or limbs. [Webster1913]. Any of various disorders of the nervous system marked by involuntary, jerky movements, especially of the arms, legs, and face, and by incoordination. [Heritage].” How scary and sad that must have been for the Lankford family. Katie lived at 188 Park Avenue at the time of her death. Her obituary noted that she was 14 years old vs. 16 recorded on her death certificate. Her death certificate also listed her occupation as “domestic” so it’s possible she was working outside the home helping to support the family. She was a member of the West End Baptist Church in Athens. Her funeral was held at Penfield Baptist Church at 4 PM on April 20 followed by burial at Penfield Cemetery. Dunaway and Sons Funeral Home were in charge of the arrangements.

Katie's stone at Penfield Cemetery


  • Chorea Insaniens, English Glossary of Causes of Death and other Archaic Medical Terms;
  • Kate Langford, Georgia Deaths, 1919-98.
  • Kate Langford, Georgia, Deaths Index, 1914-1940.
  • Kate Langford, Standard Certificate of Death, no. 8901, Bureau of Vital Statistics, George State Board of Health.
  • Katie Lankford, Penfield Cemetery, Find A Grave Memorial 22552312, U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1700s-Current.
  • Santa Claus Letters, “Athens Daily Herald,” p. 5, December 19, 1914.
  • Sandman Club Members, Attention!, “Athens Daily Herald,” p. 2, June 18, 1915.
  • Sandman Club Members, Attention!, “Athens Daily Herald,” p. 5, June 22, 1915.
  • Sandman Club Members, Attention!, “Athens Daily Herald,” p. 6, July 7, 1915.
  • Night School at Nantahala Has a Great Big Brother, “Athens Banner,” May 18, 1921.
  • Picnic at Barnett Shoals, “Banner-Herald,” p. 3, August 28, 1921.
  • Miss Katie Langford Died on Wednesday, “Athens Banner,” April 20, 1922.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Schull Shoals, Greene, Georgia, 1910.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Athens Ward 4, Clarke, Georgia, 1920.

Friday, October 19, 2018

James Daniel Rhinehart, a veteran of WWI

My great-grandmother Hattie (Rhinehart) Shields, an unknown
child, and her brother James Daniel Rhinehart
The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “conflict.”

After talking with a friend recently about having a Rhinehart branch in my tree, I realized that I hadn’t thought about or researched them in years. Then as I searched my tree for someone to write about for week 42, I discovered that one of my Rhinehart’s had served in the U.S. Army during World War I, described by Wikipedia as “… one of the deadliest conflicts in history.” That was news to me and since it fit with the theme this week I decided it was time to write his timeline.

James Daniel Rhinehart, son of William Dearnald Rhinehart and Roda Elizabeth (Bettie) Sneed, was born in Sevier County, Tennessee on March 16, 1890. He was the third child of five—Sarah Malonia Rhinehart, Ollie C. Rhinehart, James Daniel Rhinehart, Arlie Mack Rhinehart, and Hattie Jane Rhinehart. He went by Jim and was my great grand uncle.

On June 11, 1900, Jim and his family lived in Civil District 13 of Sevier County. At age 10, Jim was a farm laborer, most likely helping his father on their farm. Jim wasn’t attending school at the time which would probably explain why he was unable to read or write. His parents had been married for 14 years. His mother had given birth to five children, all of which were living. Before the end of the decade, life as the family knew it would change when Jim’s 44-year-old father died on April 19, 1908. They buried his father at Catons Chapel Cemetery in Sevierville. At 18 years of age, Jim was now the oldest male in the family and most likely felt the weight of that.

Rhinehart family - Jim is the boy
standing behind his mother (ca. 1905)
On April 29, 1910, the Rhinehart family still lived in Civil District 13 of Sevier County. Jim’s 16-year-old sister Hattie (my great-grandmother) and her husband James “Stewart” Shields were living in the Rhinehart home. Jim’s sister Malonia, now married to Ashley Sutton, lived next door with their one-year-old daughter Georgia. Everyone except Hattie and Malonia were farming, including Jim’s mother Bettie. Jim was now able to read and write. Six short years later, Malonia, just 29 years old, died on November 25, 1916. She left three small children behind. Malonia was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia.

The U.S. entered World War I on April 6, 1917. It didn’t take long—June 5—for Jim to register for the draft in Middle Creek, Sevier County, Tennessee. He lived in Sevierville at the time, less than five miles from Middle Creek. Jim was a single, self-employed farmer who described himself as being of medium height and build; with blue eyes and light-colored hair. Probably aware that he would soon be shipping off to war, Jim married Margaret Lou Roberts, daughter of James Roberts and Appie Ellen McCarter, on July 15, 1917 in Sevier County. Jim and Appie didn’t have much time together though. Although he had registered for the draft in June, it took several months before enlistment took place. After being ordered to report for service, Jim arrived at 4 p.m. on October 23, 1917. He headed to mobilization camp the next day and was accepted at camp on October 29. During his time in the Army, Jim served as a Wagoner in the Supply Company of the 318th Field Artillery. As a Wagoner, Jim would have been responsible for taking care of and driving the wagons used for transportation, as well as the complete care of the animals and equipment. That would include feeding and grooming the animals, cleaning their stables, repairing equipment and wagons, and harnessing the horses, among other things. I don’t know when, but Jim was sent overseas to perform these duties. The only record I found of his service was an Army Transport Service passenger list that showed Jim departing Brest, France on June 3, 1919 aboard the USS Siboney, arriving in Newport News, Virginia on June 11, 1919. Jim was released from service on June 19, 1919. Upon returning to the United States, Jim went home to Sevierville.

USS Siboney (ID # 2999), public domain
On January 20, 1920, Jim and Margaret rented a home in the 4th Civil District of Sevier County. He worked as a merchant in a general store. Jim and Margaret’s first child, a daughter they named Anna Ruth Rhinehart, was born on June 18, 1920.

On April 4, 1930, Jim, Margaret, and Anna lived on Emert Avenue in Sevierville. Jim was a laborer in a flower (flour?) mill. Margaret was pregnant at the time the census enumerator visited and on June 25, just over 10 years after the birth of daughter Anna, they were blessed with another child—daughter Jean Rhinehart, born on June 25, 1930. Four years later, Jim’s sister Ollie died in Sevierville from Pellagra of the bowels on July 24, 1934. She’d been sick for five days prior to her death. Pellagra, “now rare in developed countries” is a “disease due to a deficiency of niacin, a B-complex vitamin” according to MedicineNet. Jim was the informant on her death certificate.

On April 9, 1940, Jim and his family still lived in the Emert Avenue home in Sevierville. Jim was a carpenter for a lumber manufacturer. There were three lodgers living in the home with them—Hazel Whaley, Gladys Lafayette, and Ruth Loveday. All three of them worked at a hosiery mill. Jim’s mother Bettie suffered from breast cancer and died in Sevierville on July 23, 1945. Bettie was buried on July 25 at Catons Chapel Cemetery in Sevierville.

My Granny Daisy Shields, her mother Hattie Rhinehart Shields,
holding my youngest sister, and Jim Rhinehart

These photos would have been taken in the early 1960s

Jim died at the age of 80 in Sevier County on January 29, 1971. He was buried at Shiloh Memorial Cemetery in Pigeon Forge, Sevier County, Tennessee.

Photo by Elizabeth Olmstead


  • Betty Rhinehart Certificate of Death, no. 15039, State of Tennessee.
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 19 October 2018), memorial page for James D. Rhinehart (16 Mar 1890–29 Jan 1971), Find A Grave Memorial no. 26112000, citing Shiloh Memorial Cemetery, Pigeon Forge, Sevier County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Elizabeth Olmstead (contributor 46772820).
  • James Daniel Rhinehart Delayed Certificate of Birth, no. D-172249, State of Tennessee.
  • Medical Definition of Pellagra, MedicineNet;
  • Mrs. Ollie Matthews Certificate of Death, no. 16503, State of Tennessee.
  • Photo of USS Siboney (ID # 2999), public domain, Letterpress reproduction of an artwork by Musician Loren C. Holmberg, USN, printed on page 5 of “Historical Souvenir of the U.S.S. Siboney,” published by the ship's crew in 1919 as a momento of her service. Collection of Captain Clarence S. Williams, USN. Donated by Mrs. Clarence S. Williams, 1975.
  • U.S. Census, Civil District 13, Sevier, Tennessee, 1900.
  • U.S. Census, Civil District 13, Sevier, Tennessee, 1910.
  • U.S. Census, Civil District 4, Sevier, Tennessee, 1920.
  • U.S. Census, Sevier, Sevierville, District 5, Tennessee, 1930, 1940.
  • U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939.
  • U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.
  • U.S., Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917–1918, Tennessee.
  • U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Anna Ruth Rhinehart.
  • U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Registration State: Tennessee; Registration County: Sevier; Roll: 1877690.
  • World War I;

Friday, October 12, 2018

Water sports at Tygart Lake

Ralph Murphy
The 52 Ancestors theme this week is “sports.”

In 2007, my husband Charlie, his Dad Earl, and I visited his Aunt Jean Murphy in Bridgeport, Harrison County, West Virginia. Before we left, Aunt Jean gave Charlie 15 boxes of slides taken by her husband (and Charlie’s uncle) Ralph Murphy. There were thousands of slides in the collection, spanning the years 1947 to 1984. Many were scenic shots from their travels across the United States, some were family members, and others were friends and co-workers. I wanted to convert the slides to digital images but there were so many the task was overwhelming. I converted a few here and there and then overwhelmed, abandoned the boxes for several years. I finally bit the bullet in August 2015 and made it my yearly genealogy project during a summer “staycation.” I spent the full week converting the slides to digital. It was time-consuming but well worth the effort. Since I completed the project, I’ve spent hours looking at the photos. I’ve been able to identify many of the family members in the images, but many were friends of Uncle Ralph and Aunt Jean so remain a mystery.

Today I’m posting a group of photos related to water sports from Uncle Ralph’s slide collection. These photos provide a look into time they spent on Tygart Lake near Grafton, West Virginia. According to The Charleston Daily Mail, Tygart Lake is a 3,860-acre lake and in 1954 was the “… largest body of water in the Mountain State.” The lake “… was created by the construction of Tygart Dam.” Uncle Ralph and Aunt Jean were members of the Tygart Lake Boat Club. From the look of these photos, they appeared to have a wonderful time at the lake during the summer months with the club.


Aunt Jean talking to a member of the American Power Boat Association (APBA).

The club apparently took part in the Tygart Lake Boat Show and participated in a parade through Grafton.

These are probably from one of the annual boat races staged at the dock area. According to The Charleston Daily Mail, these “races feature competitive runs of boats ranging from sporting outboards to costly dual-motored hydroplanes.”

Jean and Ralph Murphy

If you’d like to see more photos from Uncle Ralph’s collection, click on the links below.

Nutter Fort, West Virginia Soap Box Derby

Warner’s Skyline Drive-In Theater

Vintage Christmas photos

52 Ancestors – no. 40: Anna B. Church – (week 24) (Anna (Church) and Everett Evans photos only)


  • “Tygart Park Ideal Spot for Picnic,” The Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, West Virginia, May 23, 1954.