Saturday, March 26, 2016

52 Ancestors – NINE ZERO—celebrating a milestone year (81-2016)

I’m posting this blog entry from my home state of Georgia where I’ve come to celebrate my Daddy’s 90th birthday. That’s right—NINE ZERO—my Daddy, Samuel Terrell Lankford, is 90 years old today! He’s as old as Methuselah as he likes to say. For years, I’ve heard Daddy say he was going to live to be 115 years old because he still had a lot of people to “piss off” (his words, not mine). But now he spends his days in a nursing home and as far as I know, is not upsetting anyone. Our family came together (from Georgia, Virginia, New York, and Florida) to celebrate his milestone this weekend. Most of us were there but some couldn’t make it for health reasons or work. Two joined by phone. I’m sure the ones that couldn’t make it were there in spirit though.

Daddy didn’t give us much time this afternoon. Not long after we arrived he told us it was his nap time and that he was ready for “la la land” so we had to hurry the party along. We chatted a little while and took a few pictures. After pictures he read his cards, blew out the candles, took one bite of cake, and then patiently waited for us to eat our cake. By that time, I think he was tired of waiting so two of my sisters and I wheeled him to his room so he could get his nap. I hadn’t been home since he was moved from assisted living to this nursing home so was happy to see a beautiful dogwood tree in full bloom just outside his window. He always loved springtime and the trees and flowers blooming. I knew he would enjoy that.

Daddy has told me many stories over the years and it’s time to put words on paper. But I’m not there yet so for now, will just share some of the pictures I have of him through the years.

Happy 90th birthday Daddy … I love you! 
Me, Jennifer, Daddy, and Michael

Me, Jennifer, Daddy, Michael, Vanessa, and Bonita

Daddy, me, Bonita, Jennifer, Vanessa, and Michael
Daddy and Vanessa (in front).
Me, Jennifer, and Michael.

Friday, March 18, 2016

52 Ancestors – John Thompson Smith (80-2016)

John Thompson Smith, son of John Milton Smith and Amanda Larimer Horne, was born December 21, 1901 in the Washington Township of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He the youngest child of seven—Benjamin Gordon Smith, George Nelson Smith, Edith McCrum Smith, Howard Stanley Smith, Helen Margaret Smith, Bertha Edna Smith, and John Thompson Smith. John’s paternal grandfather was also named John Thompson Smith (born on November 7, 1810 in St. Clairsville, Belmont County, Ohio). John was my husband’s great-uncle.

Just before John’s fifth birthday, tragedy struck the Smith family when his 18 year old sister Edith, blind as the result of measles, died on October 24, 1906 of typhoid fever at Mercy Hospital. She was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Apollo, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.

On April 26, 1910, the family lived in Paulton, Washington Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. A neighbor two doors away was John A. Stewart. Mr. Stewart was also a neighbor in 1900 so they must be living in the same house. His father and brothers Ben and George worked in a sheet mill. Two years after this census was taken, his father died in Westmoreland County on March 9, 1912. His father was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Apollo.

After suffering with endocarditis (an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart) for two years, John’s sister Helen died in Paulton on March 18, 1913. She was just 17 years old. Helen was buried on March 20 in the family plot at Apollo’s Riverview Cemetery. She shares a tombstone with her parents and sister Edith.

On January 26, 1920, 18 year old John lived with his 60 year old widowed mother in the North Washington District of Washington Township. The home was located on Greensburg – Apollo Road. Three of John’s siblings still lived in the home—Ben (age 37), George (age 34), and his remaining sister Bertha (age 22). All were able to read and write. John, Ben, and George all worked in a steel mill with John being an addressgrapher. According to Wikipedia, “an addressograph is an address labeler and labeling system” so I assume it’s how they marked the steel. Ben was a “catcher” and Ben a “ruffer.” Bertha wasn’t working. I assume she spent her time helping her mother take care of the house and her brothers.

John married Virginia Kimmel Johnston, daughter of John Frank Johnston and Emma Agnes Uncapher, about 1924 or 1925 in Pennsylvania, most likely in Westmoreland County. John was 23 years old and Virginia was 22. Together they had two children—Lois Kimmel Smith and Russell W. Smith. Lois was given her mother’s maiden name as her middle name. Kimmel was also the surname of Virginia’s paternal grandmother Sarah A. Kimmel so I guess you could say they were carrying on a family tradition.
Verda Hilty Smith, Bertha Edna Smith Athya,
Virginia Kimmel Johnston Smith,  John Thompson Smith,
George Nelson Smith
In 1925, John’s sister Bertha gave birth to her first child—a boy she named John Thompson Athya—a nod to her brother, their father John Milton Smith, and their grandfather John Thompson Smith.

On April 12, 1930, John, Virginia, and Lois (age one and a half) lived on the “right side” of Paulton in the Washington Township. I have no clue what the “right side” means but that’s what the census enumerator wrote. Maybe he meant the west side of Paulton. He owned his house which was valued at $5,000. They also owned a radio. John still worked in a steel mill but was now a clerk.

On April 5, 1940, John and his family still lived in Paulton, in the same house they had lived in since 1935. The family was complete now having added their son Russell in May 1934. There were two boarders living in the home—Grace Gally and Mary Witherspoon—both 30 year old teachers—the same occupation as Virginia.

Amanda Horne Smith, John Thompson Smith,
Electra Smith Jack, Howard Athya, and John Athya
John’s mother, Amanda Larimer Horne Smith, died on January 11, 1943 following a stroke in Washington, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. She was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Apollo with her husband and daughters Helen and Edith.

On December 15, 1957, John’s brother Ben died from a heart attack at the Elks Retirement Home in Bedford, Bedford County, Virginia where he had been living. Ben was buried in the Elks National Cemetery in Bedford, a section of Oakwood Cemetery designated as the burial place for residents of the Elks National Home.

John’s brother George died on April 24, 1959 in the Washington Township. He was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Apollo.

John’s brother Howard died at his residence on January 14, 1961 after suffering a heart attack. King Funeral Home handled his funeral with the Rev. Warren Martin, pastor of the Apollo Presbyterian Church, in charge of the service. Howard was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Apollo.

Virginia Kimmel Johnston Smith, John Thompson Smith,
Verda Hilty Smith, Bertha Edna Smith Athya, and George Nelson Smith
John retired from the Vandergrift plant of United States Steel Corporation after working more than 40 years in the payroll department. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Vandergrift.

John died at the age of 67 at the Belair Nursing Home on September 23, 1969 in the Lower Burrell Township of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He was buried at Greenwood Memorial Park in Lower Burrell. John was survived by his wife Virginia, daughter Lois Smith Hilty, his son Russell Smith, three grandchildren, and his sister Bertha Smith Athya. After his death, Virginia moved to Florida to live with Lois.

Friday, March 11, 2016

52 Ancestors – Paul Augustus Hobbs (79-2016)

Paul Augustus Hobbs, son of Nathan Augustus Hobbs Jr. and Lethia Ollie Kendall, was born October 12, 1920 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. He was the first born child of Nathan and Lethia who were married in Bradley County, Tennessee on March 18, 1918.

Prior to Paul’s birth, his parents lived with his paternal grandparents, Nathan Augustus Hobbs Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Pitts, so it’s most likely they were still living there in October 1920 and that Paul was born in their home. If they in fact still lived with Paul’s grandparents, he would have been surrounded by many family members, including several young aunts and uncles—Eula B. Hobbs (age 17), Mary Lou Hobbs (age 12), Nancy H. Hobbs (age 10), Edna Hobbs (age 7), and Charlie B. Hobbs (age 4 8/12).

According to the January 22, 1920 Glade District, Oglethorpe County, Georgia census record, Paul’s mother Lethia, who was born in Tennessee, was 18 years old at the time of his birth. His father, Nathan Sr., was 28 although the census enumerator recorded his age as 26. Paul’s father was a farmer on a general farm.

Like my post on his uncle Reuben Hobbs last week, little Paul’s life ended way too soon when he died from bronchopneumonia with encephalitis as a contributing factor on May 3, 1922 in Point Peter, Oglethorpe County, Georgia. The Oglethorpe Echo reported his death in two articles on May 12, 1922:
Sympathy of our entire community (Millstone) goes out to Mr. and Mrs. N. A. Hobbs in the death of their nineteen month old son which occurred Wednesday morning.
We were saddened last Wednesday to hear of the death of little Paul Hobbs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gus Hobbs. He had been very ill for several days with some kind of brain trouble. He was buried at the Glade cemetery last Thursday. It was doubly sad as this was an only child.
Paul was buried at the Glade Baptist Church Cemetery in Point Peter. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

52 Ancestors – Reuben Hobbs (78-2016)

Reuben Hobbs, son of Nathan Augustus Hobbs Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Pitts, was born May 19, 1904 in Georgia, most likely Oglethorpe County. At the time of his birth, Reuben’s parents already had seven children—John Henry Hobbs, George Hobbs, Nathan Augustus Hobbs Jr., Joel Garland Hobbs, Robert Lee Hobbs, William Drew Hobbs, and Eula Bell Hobbs. Reuben became a “big brother” a month before his third birthday when his mother gave birth on April 12, 1907 to a daughter they named Mary Lou Hobbs. Sadly, the excitement of a new baby in the home was shattered six months later when on October 12, 1907, Reuben died in Oglethorpe County. The Oglethorpe Echo reported his death on October 18, 1907:
After a short illness, with membraneous croup, the death angel came Saturday night to relieve the suffering of Reuben, the sweet little son of Mr. and Mrs. N. A. Hobbs. Although less than four years old, little Reuben possessed the intelligence of a much older person and by his sweet winning ways won the hearts of all who knew him. On Monday afternoon the funeral services were conducted by Rev. M. S. Weaver and the remains laid to rest in the Colquitt burying ground.
The epitaph inscribed on the back of Reuben’s tombstone reads:
     We had a little treasure
     He was our joy and pride
     We loved him oh perhaps
          too well
     For soon he slept and died
According to Find A Grave, the Colquitt Cemetery in Sandy Cross is also known as the William H. Colquitt Cemetery. Of the 18 graves recorded in Find A Grave, 16 have the last name Colquitt. The two that don’t were children—Reuben Hobbs and an infant named Zilpha Terlula Stevens. Now I need to figure out how little Reuben fit into the Colquitt family and why he was buried in their family cemetery.