Friday, June 18, 2021

Otis Cleo Holland

Otis Cleo Holland, son of Doctor Carroll Holland and Louise Christianna McCoy, was born on April 4, 1885 in Anderson County, South Carolina. He was the 5th of 9 children—Louis Cornelus Holland, Effa Holland, Lilla E. Holland, Joseph Reese Holland, Otis Cleo Holland, Arley Major Holland, Henry Grady Holland, Zadie Elucia Holland, and Laura B. Holland. Otis is my 2nd cousin 2x removed, with our nearest common relatives being John Holland and Elizabeth H. Majors.

On June 5, 1900, Otis and his family lived in the West Centerville Township of Anderson County. His father was a farmer with Reese, Otis, Arley, and Grady all helping as farm laborers. Sisters Zadie, age 9, and Laura, age 6, were the other children living in the home at the time. Otis’ parents had been married for 21 years. His mother was enumerated as having had nine children, with all but one living. With the exception of Otis’ father, everyone was able to read and write. In 1905, Otis worked as a clerk for J. R. Holland in Anderson.

On May 11, 1910, the Holland family lived in the Center Township of Oconee County. At age 25, Otis was still living at home, along with brothers Arley and Grady (enumerated as Henry G.), and sisters Zadie and Laura. Otis, his father, and brother Arley were all farmers on a general farm. Brother Grady worked as a laborer on a home farm. The census record shows that his mother had lost another child and that his father was now able to read and write. On November 16, 1910, Otis married Johnnie Holder, daughter of John Carey Holder and Carrie Louvinia Hutchison. The Greenville News, published in Greenville, South Carolina, carried a marriage notice on November 8, 1910:

Holder-Holland. Cards reading as follows have been issued: Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Holder request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter, Johnnie Kathleen to Mr. Otis C. Holland on the evening of Wednesday the sixteenth of November, at half-after eight o’clock at their home, 1015 Ella Street, Anderson, South Carolina.

The Greenville News, November 8, 1910

Otis and Johnnie didn’t waste time before starting their family. Their first child, a daughter they named Thelma, was born on October 28, 1911. A second daughter named Cleo, apparently after her father, was born about 1914. Sadly, neither daughter would grow up knowing their father. Otis died at Anderson County Hospital on July 3, 1915 following surgery for appendicitis. His brother Reese was the informant on his death certificate. Otis was buried on July 4 in the Oakwood Section of Silver Brook Cemetery in Anderson. He was 30 years old at the time of his death. 

Photo by L N M W H, Find a Grave member 47583636.

His nephew, Frank Dickson (son of Laura B. Holland), wrote a beautiful obituary (full of genealogical information) for Otis that was published in Anderson’s newspaper The Intelligencer on July 9:

Saturday morning, July 3, a little before the clock struck the hour of ten, the noble life of Otis Cleo Holland had ended its earthly pilgrimage. Only a few days before he had undergone an operation for appendicitis. From the start it was feared that he could not live. He was given every attention possible at the Anderson hospital, but for several days nothing could ease his intense pain and dreadful suffering, then “The Great Physician” simply touched him and he was at rest.

Otis Cleo Holland was born near Anderson, April 4, 1885. He was son of Mr. D. C. and Mrs. L. C. Holland, both of whom still survive him. He joined Neal’s Creek church when a boy and had been a consistent member of the Baptist church ever since. At the time of his death he was a member of the First Baptist church at Anderson.

From his youth up he was a good boy, developing into a true manly man. Well did he fulfill that great commandment, “Honor they father and mother.” A truer boy to his mother never lived, our hearts go out today to the “Grand old mother of Israel” with her heart bleeding and aching, she gives up her boy, yet the spirit of God shining in her eyes as she trusts in his goodness and knows ere long she shall again gather her children in those empty arms.

Otis loved all his people, especially his sisters, and his love and care for them was beautiful. To know him was to love him. He was so pure and clean. His language was pure and elevating, never did we hear him utter one word that was wrong. He held himself high above the crowd. Never did he mix with the unclean. Today we find joy in his last words that all was well and that he was ready to go.

November 16, 1910, he was married to Miss Johnnie Holder of Anderson. To them was born two precious little girls, Thelma, age 4 years and little Cleo, age 10 months. Their married life was sweet and beautiful, just one courtship and honey-moon. He devotedly loved his babies and how his heart must have ached as he kissed them goodbye at the hospital. In the last days his wife showed watchless courage and unlimited strength and love as she tenderly watched him. Then when the end came she was heart-broken and her life was crushed.

He leaves besides his own family and his father and mother, three brothers, J. R. Holland, A. M. Holland, H. Grady Holland, all of Anderson; three sisters, Mrs. Lila Carroll of Georgia; Mrs. Zadie McCarley of Anderson and Mrs. Laura Dickson of Townville. A sister and little brother preceded him to the grave.

The funeral was conducted at home in the room where he was married by Rev. John Speake of St. John’s Methodist church. The following acted as pallbearers: L. H. Seel, Dr. Mack Sanders, Dr. Carl Sanders, J. F. Geer, Dr. Atkinson, John Pruitt.

Internment was made at Silver Brook cemetery. The grave was left covered in beautiful flowers.

Frank A. Dickson

Johnnie was pregnant when Otis died and gave birth to a third daughter in Anderson on February 5, 1916. She named her new daughter Otis Louise Holland, apparently a second nod to the husband she loved so dearly.


  • Anderson, South Carolina, City Directory, 1905.
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed 12 June 2021), memorial page for Otis C. Holland (4 Apr 1885–3 Jul 1915), Find a Grave Memorial ID 100198117, citing Silver Brook Cemetery, Anderson, Anderson County, South Carolina, USA; maintained by Clagett Girl (contributor 50087197).
  • O. C. Holland, Certificate of Death no. 12815, State of South Carolina, Bureau of Vital Statistics, State Board of Health, South Carolina Death Records, 1821-1955,
  • Otis C. Holland – Life was Very Beautiful and He Was One Among Many, The Intelligencer, Anderson, South Carolina, July 9, 1915.
  • Otis Louisa Holland, Certificate of Birth no. 47909, State of South Carolina, Bureau of Vital Statistics, State Board of Health.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Center, Oconee County, South Carolina, 1910.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Centerville, Anderson County, South Carolina, 1900.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Alice Davis Holland

Alice Davis Holland was born in Washington, District of Columbia (DC) in 1907. Her father was Andrew Turner Holland from Anderson, South Carolina. Sometime after 1893, Andrew moved from Anderson to Washington, DC to work for Asbury Churchwell Latimer, a Democrat from South Carolina. Latimer served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1893 to 1903 and then as a Senator until his death in 1908. Andrew apparently met Evelyn E. Padgett, daughter of George Thomas Padgett Sr. and Mary C. Racket, in DC. Alice, their only child, did not survive infancy. In October 1908, she became ill with Cholera Infantum, defined by Merriam-Webster as “an acute noncontagious intestinal disturbance of infants formerly common in congested areas of high humidity and temperature but now rare.” The website describes the illness as “… an acute infectious disease of infancy, characterized by diarrhea, and in severe cases by vomiting, rapid emaciation and extreme prostration.” Several other sites note that the disease is common during the hot, summer months. Alice most likely suffered greatly and tragically died on October 20. From what I’ve read, Alice was too young to understand what was happening to her but it would have been terrifying for her parents.

Alice was buried at Congressional Cemetery, located on Capitol Hill in DC, on October 22 following a 2 pm funeral service at her parents’ home. The bio in Alice’s Find a Grave memorial 49402272 reads “The Congressional Cemetery office confirmed that this burial is unmarked. They also reported, specifically: Alice HOLLAND is buried in the Thomas PADGETT site. There is no stone for her.” She is buried in section 5, range/family vault 12, space 57b, near her grandfather, George Thomas Padgett, in section 5, range/family vault 12, space 55a. Two newspapers carried word of Alice’s death and burial:

“The Evening Star,” Washington, DC, October 21, 1908. – HOLLAND. On Tuesday, October 20, 1908, ALICE DAVIS, infant daughter of Andrew T. and Evelyn E. Holland (nee Padgett). Funeral from parents’ residence, 304 C street northeast, Thursday, October 22, at 2 p.m.
“The Washington Times,” Washington, DC, October 22, 1908, p. 2 – DIED – HOLLAND—On Tuesday, October 20, 1908, Alice Davis, infant daughter of Andrew T. and Evelyn E. Holland (nee Padgett).
“The Evening Star,” Washington, DC, October 23, 1908, Deaths in the District—The following deaths were reported to the health office during the past twenty-four hours: … Alice D. Holland, 1 year, 304 C street northeast.  

Evening Star, Washington, DC, October 21, 1908

I mentioned Alice in my post about her father but decided she needed her own post. I’m always saddened to see an infant death in my research. In Alice’s case, she doesn’t appear in any census records so you have to work a little harder to tell her story. I’m glad I took the time. Alice is my 1st cousin 2x removed. Our nearest common relatives are Leroy Thomas Holland and Amanda Elizabeth Scott.


Friday, June 4, 2021

Charles Moore Lankford

This blog post is another in a series connecting the dots in my tree to the souls buried at Bairdstown Cemetery in Bairdstown, Oglethorpe County, Georgia.

Charles Moore Lankford, son of Curtis Caldwell Lankford and Nancy A. E. McCarty, was born in Greene County, Georgia on September 7, 1865. He was the 6th child of 10—William A. Lankford, Mary A. Lankford, Rebeckah H. Lankford, John R. Lankford, George Washington Lankford, Charles Moore Lankford, Wade Hamilton Lankford, Joseph Jackson Lankford, Nancy Crawford Lankford, and Florence Lee Lankford. He went by Charlie and is my 1st cousin 4x removed with our nearest common relatives being Charles L. Lankford and Miss Moore.

On June 16, 1870, the Lankford family lived in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. His father worked as a common laborer while his mother stayed home keeping house. Of the six children in the home, only John was shown with an occupation in the census record—farm laborer.

By June 7, 1880, the Lankford family had moved to the Bowling Green District of Oglethorpe County, Georgia. His father worked as a well digger, his mother kept house, and Charlie kept busy as a farm laborer. His brother Hampton was attending school but appears to be the only child at home doing so at the time. 

Charlie married Mary Franklin “Minnie” Williamson, daughter of William F. Williamson and Emily “Emmie” Allen, in Oglethorpe County, Georgia on February 18, 1886. Their first child, a daughter named Maude Estelle Lankford was born in Oglethorpe County on May 11, 1889. Their second child, a son named Horace M. Lankford, was born in Georgia, probably Oglethorpe County, on September 17, 1897.

Charles Lankford and Minnie Williamson's marriage license

On June 1, 1900, Charlie and his family lived in the Bowling Greene District of Oglethorpe County, Georgia. Charlie worked as a farmer. Minnie and Maude were both enumerated as “Mary” in the census record. The census enumerator noted that Minnie had given birth to three children, two of which were living. I have yet to find a record for the birth or death of this child. 

I have been unable to find Charlie in the 1910 census but will keep looking. When Charlie’s son Horace filled out his World War I registration card on September 12, 1918, he noted that he was employed by his father whose place of business was in Rayle, Wilkes County, Georgia. Horace also noted that his father was his nearest relative and that he lived in Rayle.

On February 2, 1920, Charlie lived on Washington Road in the Bowling Green District. In this census record, his last name was spelled Langford. He worked as a farmer on a general farm. Horace, the only child left at home, worked as a farm laborer on a home farm. Daughter Maude lived next door with her husband Andrew and daughter Knollie.

1920 Soundex Census Index for Charlie and family

On April 19, 1930, Charlie, Minnie, and Horace lived in Taliaferro County. At age 64, he had apparently retired as his occupation was enumerated as “none.” Horace worked as a laborer, hauling lumber. Charlie’s daughter Maude lived next door with her husband Andrew, widowed daughter Knollie, and granddaughter Estelle Fulcher. Minnie died of senility at age 71 in Penfield on March 9, 1939. She was buried at Bairdstown Cemetery in Bairdstown, Oglethorpe County, Georgia.

On April 2, 1940, Charlie lived with his daughter Maude and her husband Andrew McElreath in Union Point, Greene County, Georgia. They were joined in the home by Horace and his wife Rosie, as well as a cousin of Andrew’s, M. D. Adkins. They had been living in the home since 1935. The only member of the family working was Andrew and he was a brick mason. Those not working were not seeking work according to the census enumerator. 

Charlie died on July 14, 1947 at his home in Shiloh, Greene County. He was buried beside Minnie at Bairdstown Cemetery following a service a Bairds Baptist Church the following day. The Oglethorpe Echo carried a notice of Charlie’s funeral on July 24, 1947:

Mr. Charlie Lankford, son of Mr. Curt Lankford of Civil War fame, was buried here (Bairdstown) last Wednesday with the Rev. O.L. Duval officiating. Mr. Lankford was well advanced in age and had been blind for several years. His funeral was well attended by a host of friends and relatives.


  • C. M. Lankford Dies at Shiloh, newspaper and date published unknown.
  • Charles Lankford and Minnie Williamson marriage certificate, Georgia, U.S., Marriage Records from Select Counties, 1828-1978.
  • Charlie Langford, Oglethorpe County, Georgia Soundex, 1920.
  • Charlie M. Lankford, Georgia, U.S., Death Index, 1919-1998.
  • Funeral notice, Oglethorpe Echo, July 24, 1947.
  • Minnie Franklin Lankford, Certificate of Death no. 8759, Georgia Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Bowling Greene District, Oglethorpe County, Georgia, 1880, 1900, 1920.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Georgia Militia District 228, Oglethorpe County, Georgia, 1860.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Militia District 138, Greene County, Georgia, 1870.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Militia District 607, Taliaferro County, Georgia, USA, 1930.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Union Point, Greene County, Georgia, 1940.
  • William F. Williams and Emily Allen, Georgia, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1754-1850.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Remembering Cecil Goodwin Callaway

Cecil Goodwin Callaway, son of Claude Parkis Callaway and Sarah Lucile Wray, was born in Union Point, Greene County, Georgia on November 19, 1922. I have not found any records to show that Claude and Sarah had other children so believe Cecil was an only child. He was the nephew of the wife of my 1st great grand uncle, Nathan Lawrence Lankford. Nathan married Cecil’s aunt, Olivia Callaway. Cecil and I have no common relative.

On April 8, 1930, Cecil, his parents, and widowed grandmother Julia Askew Callaway, lived in the Mill Settlement on the South East Side of Union Point. His father worked as a bridge carpenter for the steam railroad so would have built and repaired bridges for the trains that ran through the area. The Callaway family lived in a rental home. At age 7, Cecil attended school, but at this point, was unable to read or write.

On April 12, 1940, the Callaway family lived in Union Point, the same house they’d been living in since at least 1935. At age 17, Cecil worked 15 hours a week turning socks at the hosiery mill. The 1940 census record shows that Cecil had worked 15 weeks in 1939, receiving an income of $50. His father now worked as a water supply mechanic for the steam railroad with a yearly income of $1,560.

The U.S. officially entered World War II on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Like many young men, it wasn’t long before Cecil was standing in line. Although he lived in Union Point at the time, Cecil went to DeKalb County, Georgia on June 30, 1942 and registered for the World War II draft. He was 19 years old at the time and worked for the Georgia Railroad Pump Gang in Union Point. Cecil was 5’8”, weighed 206 pounds, had brown eyes and hair, and a dark complexion.

Cecil's World War II registration card

Cecil married Sara Margaret Phelps, daughter of Paul Phelps and Ellie Maude Jones, on August 15, 1942. Their wedding probably took place in Union Point but I don’t have a record to prove that. With the newlywed’s life just beginning, it was only months before they would be torn apart with Cecil enlisting as a private in the U.S. Army at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia on January 27, 1943. His enlistment record noted he had received four years of high school education and his civil occupation was foremen, transportation, communications, and utilities. Cecil served with Company E in the 164th/168th Infantry Regiments, 34th Division. I learned that he was injured from a February 23, 1944 article published in The Atlanta Constitution: “Wounded in action in the Mediterranean area were: … CORPORAL CECIL G. CALLOWAY, husband of Mrs. Sarah M. Calloway, of Union Point … .” 

Wounded in Action in the Mediterranean Area
The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, February 23, 1944

At some point, Cecil was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Sadly, he was killed in action by an artillery shell in Italy on May 30, 1944 during the Battle of Anzio. According to Wikipedia, “the Battle of Anzio was a battle of the Italian Campaign of World War II that took place from January 22, 1944 to June 5, 1944.” Cecil was 21 years old, leaving a grieving widow at home in Georgia. He was buried at Wisteria Cemetery in Union Point. His father applied for a military marker on February 12, 1949.

Wisteria Cemetery, Union Point, Georgia

Application for Headstone or Marker (image from

Remembering Sgt. Cecil Goodwin Callaway who died in Italy while serving his country—77 years ago this Memorial Day weekend.


  • Battle of Anzio;
  • Cecil C. Callaway, U.S., World War II Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942–1954.
  • Cecil G. Callaway, U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938–1946.
  • Cecil Goodwin Callaway, U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925–1970.
  • Cecil Goodwin Callaway, WWII Draft Registration Cards for Georgia, October 16, 1940 – March 31, 1947.
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed 21 May 2021), memorial page for Cecil Goodwin Callaway (19 Nov 1922–30 May 1944), Find a Grave Memorial ID 73112961, citing Wisteria Cemetery, Union Point, Greene County, Georgia, USA ; maintained by Samuel Taylor Geer (contributor 46925792).
  • National Archives and Records Administration; Hospital Admission Card Files, ca. 1970 - ca. 1970; NAI: 570973; Record Group Number: Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994; Record Group Title: 112.
  • Sara Margaret Moon obituary, the Sechrest Funeral Service website;
  • U.S. Federal Census, Union Point, Greene County, Georgia, 1930, 1940.
  • When Did America Enter WW2?, History on the Net, © 2000–2021, Salem Media, May 19, 2021;
  • World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel, 1946.
  • Wounded in Action in the Mediterranean Area, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, February 23, 1944.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Josephine Larimer

Josephine Larimer, daughter of William Larimer and Magdalene Neley, was born in Pennsylvania on August 21, 1838. I can document seven children in this family—Harriet Larimer, Amanda Larimer, Washington Larimer, Elizabeth Larimer, William Larimer, Josephine Larimer, and Robert Larimer. Josephine is the 2nd great grand aunt of my husband. Their nearest common relatives are her parent, William Larimer and Magdalena Neley.

Josephine comes from a line that I felt needed a deeper dive into. I was specifically interested in finding out more about her mother, Magdalene. Josephine’s sister, Elizabeth Larimer Horne, is my husband’s direct ancestor. Elizabeth’s death certificate listed Magdalene’s birthplace as Ireland so I wanted to know more. What I found was census records that listed her birthplace as Pennsylvania, which I tend to believe more accurate than the death certificate. Magdalene would have provided the information for the census record whereas the informant on Elizabeth’s death certificate was her daughter, Lydia Horne, who wouldn’t have had first hand knowledge. I don’t have enough information yet to tell Madgalene’s story so instead decided to write about Josephine, who was easier to track through time.

On August 10, 1850, Josephine and her family lived in the Peebles Township of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Her father worked as a house carpenter. Both of her parents were 50 years old. A 19-year-old male named David Patterson lived in the home. He too was a carpenter so probably worked with Josephine’s father. The house was full with seven of the Larimer children living there, three of them adults—Harriet (age 25), Amanda (age 23) and Washington (age 20). Josephine (age 12) and her brother Robert (age 10) were the only children attending school.

On June 11, 1860, Josephine, her parents, and brothers Washington and William continued to live in the Peebles Township. Her father, and now Washington, worked as a carpenter. Josephine’s father had a personal estate valued at $200.

I have been unable to find Josephine in the 1870 census but it appears that she married William Alexander Thompson, son of David Thompson and Susan Larimer, about 1870. I have yet to determine if his mother, whose maiden name was Larimer, had any connection to Josephine’s family. It wasn’t long before their family began to grow with daughter Harriet Lewella Thompson’s birth taking place in 1871. A second child was born in Pittsburgh on February 17, 1873—a son they named James L. Thompson. Unfortunately, Harriett only lived three years, dying on June 24, 1874 from scarlatina anginosa, better known as scarlet fever. They buried Harriet at Allegheny Cemetery on June 26. The following year, Josephine found herself pregnant again and gave birth to a son in Pittsburgh on September 7, 1875. They named him William, perhaps after his father.

Record of Harriett Lewella Thompson's death (click to enlarge)

The Thompson family lived on Hiland Avenue in Pittsburgh in 1874 but by June 12, 1880, had moved and lived on Pennsylvania Avenue in Pittsburgh. Her 81-year-old mother lived in the home. She was enumerated as Maggie Larimer and widowed. Like her father, Josephine’s husband was a carpenter. She and her husband had two children at the time, James and William. At age 7, James was attending school. William, just 4 years old, was not. Josephine gave birth to a fourth child they named Joseph, I assume after her, on March 31, 1883. Sadly, he died from diphtheria on October 14, 1885 at the age of 2 years, 6 months, and 13 days. They buried Joseph the next day at Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

On June 1, 1900, Josephine, William, and their son William lived in a rental home on St. Andrew Street in Pittsburgh. She was enumerated in the census as having had three children, two of which were living. Josephine, her husband, and son were all able to read and write. The family now had at least a third generation of carpenters with both William and son working in that profession. 

On May 6, 1910, Josephine and William lived on Pace Street in Pittsburgh. The census enumerator noted that they had been married for 49 years, which doesn’t sync with the 1880 census. I really need to find them in the 1870 census records. The 1880 record shows that Josephine had given birth to five children, with only one living. I have yet to find a record to document the fifth child. There was a James L. Thompson and his family living on Princeton Place which appears to be adjoined to Pace Street. Josephine and William lived at house number 207 and James lived at house number 209. The age for James is right so I feel pretty certain he is her only surviving child. James and his wife Margaret had five children at the time—Joseph W. Thompson, Margaret J. Thompson, Marie A. Thompson, Ruth D. Thompson, and Helen G. Thompson. They had lost one child. James was a carpenter, the same occupation as William. 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania census, 1910 (click to enlarge)

Josephine’s husband William died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 73 years, 7 months, and 10 days on June 21, 1911. A private funeral service was held at the River Avenue home of their son James on June 23, with burial following at the German Lutheran Cemetery in Pittsburgh. William’s “Record of Burial Place of Veteran” on file with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Military Affairs notes that he was buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out if the cemeteries named are the same, just different names for them. Josephine’s husband served as a Sergeant with Company B of the 123rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry from May 13, 1863 to July 1, 1865. She filed for a widow's pension on July 5, 1911.

Record of Burial Place of Veteran for William A. Thompson

On January 7, 1920, Josephine was enumerated as an inmate at the Ladies Grand Army Home on Woodstock Avenue in Swissvale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The Ladies Grand Army Home provided care to Civil War widows. She died there on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1925 from chronic myocarditis (“an inflammation of the heart muscle”) contributed by arteriosclerosis (commonly called “hardening of the arteries”). She was 87 years old. Josephine was buried on January 2, 1926 at German Lutheran Cemetery (again, is this St. Peter’s Cemetery?) in Pittsburgh. She was survived by her son James. 


  • Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861–1934.
  • Joseph Thompson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., Deaths, 1870–1905.
  • Josephine Larnar [sic] Thompson Certificate of Death no. 125137, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  • Mrs. Josephine Lamar Thompson, Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 2, 1926.
  • Myocarditis, Mayo Clinic;
  • Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950, database, FamilySearch ( : 15 February 2020), William A. Thompson in entry for William Thompson, 1875.
  • Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 2 March 2021), Harriet Lewella Thompson, 24 Jun 1874; citing v 10 p 162, Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh; FHL microfilm 505,820.
  • Registration of Births in the City of Pittsburgh, State of Pennsylvania, A.D. 1873.
  • The Ladies' G.A.R. Nursing Home, Abandoned America;
  • Thompson death notice, Pittsburgh Daily Post, June 22, 1911.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Peebles Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1850, 1860.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1880, 1900, 1910.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Swissvale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1920.
  • William A. Thompson, Pennsylvania, U.S., Veterans Burial Cards, 1777–2012.
  • William Alexander Thompson Certificate of Death no.59337, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  • William Thompson obituary, Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 23, 1911.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Homestead food memories

Last week I mentioned the vintage soap dish reminded me of the kitchen in our Atlanta house on Macon Drive. A lot of food came out of that kitchen, with both Mama and Daddy cooking. Seven people lived there, two adults and five children. In addition, my uncle Clark Lankford lived with us for a while, although I don’t remember for how long. I’m sure money was tight and Mama had to work hard to stretch the food budget. But we made do and never went without.

Our kitchen was small and narrow and only had a little counter space. It had built-in shelves on one end to hold pots and pan. Underneath the shelves was a chute that went to the laundry room in the basement, directly below the kitchen. You could easily get your dirty clothes to the laundry room but you had to carry them up the stairs to put them away. For a while, we had a Hoosier cabinet that contained a flour-bin with a sifter. Mama said she did in fact store flour in the bin and just had to walk over and sift flour into a bowl when baking. Today the cabinet would be considered vintage. The photo above is Daddy cooking in the Macon Drive kitchen. It doesn’t show much of the kitchen but you can see how narrow it was, as well as the shelves I mentioned.

Of course, growing up in the south, biscuits was our bread of choice for many meals, definitely for breakfast and often for dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mama make canned biscuits. I remember sitting on the countertop watching the master perform her magic with self-rising flour, Crisco, and buttermilk. As many times as I did that though, I still can’t make biscuits. You would think I could whip up a pan myself, but that was not meant to be, and that’s probably a good thing. To go along with all those biscuits, we usually had a hearty breakfast that included some form of meat—bacon, sausage, streak-o-lean, ham, or pork chops. Mama needed to cook a meat so she had grease to make gravy for the biscuits. For a sweet treat, we mixed sorghum syrup with softened margarine (I don’t remember ever having actual butter), and spreading that on a biscuit. We ate lots of eggs—fried, scrambled, or poached. Sometimes Mama even made scrambled eggs and brains (yuk!). Grits was a staple but occasionally we had rice, probably leftover from dinner the night before. And of course, we sometimes had French toast or pancakes. I remember spreading jelly on my pancakes instead of syrup, something I’m not the least bit interested in doing today.

Davis Grocery from our front yard
When I think of lunch from that time in my life, I think about egg salad or pineapple sandwiches. I’ve previously written about Mama buying bologna from Davis Grocery next door but I don’t remember that at all. I also don’t remember buying lunch at school. I only remember carrying my egg salad sandwich or a crushed pineapple and cream cheese sandwich, always on Colonial bread, in a brown paper lunch bag along with a Moon pie for dessert. Sometimes at home we had a sliced pineapple and mayonnaise sandwich, or even just a mayonnaise sandwich. On Sunday, we ate our big meal mid-day, after church.

Dinners included your typical southern fare—chicken, pork chops, roast beef, spaghetti, cubed steak, porcupines (meatballs with rice in a tomato sauce), pork and sauerkraut, liver and onions (yuk!), and ham. Mama bought whole chickens and cut them up herself. You wouldn’t know which piece you were eating if I attempted that! When Mama worked the late shift, she’d often start dinner before leaving and left it up to us girls to finish. Mama said she used to buy one box of frozen shrimp and everyone got one to two pieces each. I don’t eat seafood so she cooked a pork chop for me. On weekends, Daddy sometimes cooked. I remember him cooking things like spaghetti, baked beans, curried chicken, BBQ ribs, and deer meat. I especially remember him cooking a cow tongue on several occasions. He put the tongue in a Dutch oven and filled it with water. It didn’t take much water because the tongue was huge. At least it was to my younger self. I probably ate a pork chop those nights as well. If we didn’t have biscuits with dinner, we had cornbread.

I remember the vegetables more than I remember the meats. Daddy always had a large garden in the backyard and what he didn’t grow, he or Mama went to the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park and brought home bushel bags full of vegetables. We’d sit on the back porch and shell peas, snap beans, and shuck corn till the cows came home. We had pole beans, butter beans, crowder peas, and purple hull peas. Uncle Clark helped us on Sundays. One time my brother stuck one of the peas up his nose. That was probably after he tried to slide through the laundry chute and got stuck. The corn was usually homemade creamed corn, something I still make. One of my favorite vegetables was fried okra. If I had to pick a last meal, it would probably consist of fried okra, creamed corn, and crowder peas, along with one of Mama’s biscuits. Mama made a lot of macaroni and cheese, but never out of a box. She once told me she made it because it was cheap and went a long way for our large family but everybody loved it and it became a staple. Cooked cabbage, coleslaw, squash, rice, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes were often on the menu. To this day, if I eat white rice as a side dish, it’s got to have butter and sugar on it. Mama made sure we ate good in the winter months as well. The chest freezer was filled with beans, peas, corn, okra, squash, and fruits. Mason jars filled with tomatoes, soup mix, pickled peaches, and jellies lined the shelves in the dirt side of our basement. My great-grandfather (James Stewart Shields or Pappy to the great-grandchildren) gave Mama several red plum trees that Daddy planted along the backyard fence. We always had good homemade plum jelly for our biscuits. An apple tree gave us apple jelly too. We had two cherry trees but they never produced enough to do anything with. Mama said we had a grapevine in the backyard when they moved to the house but Daddy took it down because of bees. And we had a pear tree, but it didn’t produce much fruit either. Luckily, Mama bought pears from the farmers market and then made pear preserves. Have you ever had pear preserves? They’re delicious! Another good thing to put on biscuits. 

And let’s not forget about sweets. Ours was not a cookie baking household. Instead, Mama made cakes, cobblers, and pies. Not one of my favorites, but everyone else loved her coconut cake with seven-minute frosting, cooked over a double boiler. She always used frozen coconut vs. the bagged variety. I remember having pound cake too. For a treat, Mama added cornstarch and red food coloring to a can of fruit cocktail which she heated until the sauce thickened. Once it cooled, we’d spoon the mixture over pound cake. We loved that. My favorite was, and still is, a pineapple upside down cake. Back then, it was always round, cooked in a cast iron skillet. And of course, carrot cake at Christmastime. Cobblers were a favorite—peach, strawberry, blackberry—whatever fruit was in season or she had stored in the freezer. I still love her apple pie. One of our favorites was fried peach pies Mama made using dried peaches. She added a little water to the peaches, cooked them down, and added a little sugar. While that cooked, she made a pie crust that she rolled out and then cut out circles of dough using a cereal bowl turned upside down. Fry that baby up, then while it’s still hot, rub it with a stick of butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top. Delicious! This was one treat that Mama and I made together when she’d visit me in Virginia years later. I was in charge of the butter and cinnamon sugar and she did the rest. I always remember divinity at Christmas. We made homemade ice cream in the summer and all had to take a turn at cranking the freezer filled with ice and rock salt. For a quick snack, Mama spread peanut butter over soda crackers, topped them with a marshmallow, and then toasted them in the oven until the marshmallow was golden brown. A great, cheap, sweet treat that I still make today.

Marshmallow, peanut butter on soda cracker treats

Such good memories!


Friday, May 7, 2021

Vintage Soap Dish

One of the few items I have that can connect me to my past is this vintage soap dish. Well before being diagnosed with dementia, Daddy started passing his treasures on to his five children. It may have been something you expressed interest in at some point or something he just wanted you to have. Daddy happily passed his possessions on, that way he knew they had a home and would be taken care of after he was gone. I can’t speak for my siblings, but Daddy often shared the history of the item he gave me, particularly if it was a family heirloom. Early on, I didn’t have sense enough to document what he told me so unfortunately, don’t remember the history of this dish. I do, however, remember it sitting on the counter by the kitchen sink of the Atlanta house I grew up in.

I’ve kept the dish on my bedroom dresser for years until recently moving it to the living room. The dish is china, a small oval measuring 5 ¾ x 4 ½, and has four dogwood blossoms in the bowl. “Ivory Lamberton Sterling” is stamped on the bottom. It’s in good condition, with no visible chips or cracks, however, does have rust spots in the bowl so must have a hairline crack somewhere.

I don’t know if it has any monetary value, if so, I doubt its much. A quick google search tells me maybe $8 to $10. But that really doesn’t matter, it’s a family treasure to me.