Monday, September 28, 2009

Greetings from... Vermont!

Just a quick note to let my family and friends know that I am okay. It's been five days since my last post and I know I said I'd start posting more frequently, however, I've been off the grid since the morning of the 24th. No cell phone signal and no internet access! I've spent the past three hours or so at a public library in southern Vermont and will be leaving in a few minutes.

After departing Apple's place in Snowville and after looking at the map, I headed north through Adirondack state park. Yes, Apple, I know I said I was going to New Paltz, and I will, just not when I said I was...

I traveled all the way through the park, stopping frequently, taking my time. A very nice drive, which I highly recommend if you are ever in the area. At Malone, New York and just a few miles from Canada, it was east to Vermont. A quick stop at a Welcome Center for a map and I was on my way to the very small town of Franklin, a few miles east and just a mile south of the Canadian border. Franklin, Vermont is where my 5th great grandparents, Jonas Joslin and Ruth Dyer, were married in February 1794. After getting a copy of the record and looking through the journal for the time period, I headed south. Have stayed in several of Vermont's lovely state parks and am on my way to another. Going north again. Vermont is beautiful. Photographs don't do it justice.

Till later...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Niagara Falls :: Awesome!

As I was standing there watching the water drop over the edge of the falls, a little overwhelmed by it, I started a conversation with the lady standing next to me. The Maid of the Mist was holding its own in the middle of the Horseshoe Falls. She and her husband had ridden on it when they were there several years ago. Well worth the time and money, she said.

We talked for a few minutes more and the conversation got around to where we were from – both of us Hoosiers. Near Fort Wayne, she said. What a coincidence! Further conversation revealed that she and her husband actually lived near Columbia City. And at one time they had lived out at Tri-Lakes (a few miles north of Columbia City), which is where I used to live. What are the odds that you'll run into someone from the old neighborhood? Even more amazing to me is that they are on an extended vacation, headed to Maine and then down the East Coast! Do you think it is possible that we'll run into each other again along the way?

Well, it's not like I hadn't been there before. I have. Twice. But never before had I played the part of a true tourist by going to The Cave of the Winds or riding on The Maid of the Mist. This time, I did. And it was the most exhilarating experience I've had in quite some time! Definitely got the old blood pumping!

Standing at the rails at the top and looking at the Horseshoe Falls you can't even imagine the power and strength of the water going over the edge. But down below, you feel it. The wind-blown water stinging your face. The incredible force of the water and wind practically bowling you over as you step onto the top platform. The feeling just can't be described.

The picture above, taken by another friendly tourist, was at the bottom of the ladders and walkway. Still dry.

After getting thoroughly drenched at The Cave of the Winds, beneath Bridal Veil Falls, I followed the trail back to the top.

To get to where the Maid of the Mist was you had to leave Goat Island. Free shuttle trolleys are available but I opted to walk, which took about half an hour. There weren't a lot of people but the boat had just left the dock so it was going to be about a 20 minute wait. The time passed quickly. We donned our blue plastic ponchos and boarded. I made my way to the upper deck but wasn't able to get along the front railing.

In front of me was a family with two children, perhaps 3 and 4 years old. I couldn't tell what language they were speaking. Behind me was a young woman with an older lady. They too were speaking a language I didn't understand. They seemed more “approachable” than the family in front so I asked them where they were from. The younger lady said, in perfect English, the Czech Republic. Across the way another couple was talking, again in a language I didn't recognize. All around me were people from different countries. It was an International group. It was interesting watching them as we headed for the Horseshoe Falls. You could tell that everyone was excited, and perhaps a little bit nervous.

Most of the people on the boat put the hood of the poncho over their heads so they didn't get quite as wet as I did. In fact, I saw several ladies leaving the boat with completely dry hair. You wouldn't even have known that they had been on the boat except that the poncho was damp. Don't know how they did it, but I certainly didn't mind getting soaked for a second time in the same day!

Upon reaching the center of the Horseshoe Falls, the boat rocked and swayed while maintaining position for about 10 minutes. Not long, but long enough. Some of us lost our balance a few times but regained it without incident.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Greetings from New York :: Thanks, Apple!

Yes, I'm still here. Or somewhere! I haven't been posting as much as I would like to – it's a lot harder than I thought it would be to find the time (or just take the time) to write while traveling.

I'm in New York, southeast of Snowville, after spending last night and this morning with Apple and her husband. We had a great visit - it was so nice to be able to meet her in person. And I certainly appreciated their warm hospitality. Thanks so much Apple, for putting me up for the night.

More later on the meandering route taken through Ohio on the way to New York... soon, I promise!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Wye?

As I was getting ready to leave Springfield Wednesday morning (September 9th) I discussed my travel plans with my hosts. My intention at that time was to head north to Lawrence, Kansas to see what I could find on Samuel Fisher, the brother of my 2nd Great Grandmother, Louisa Fisher Phend.

However, I made a stop to purchase a few things before leaving and “something” jogged my memory – a small town in Arkansas was calling my name.

In 1985, I corresponded with Arba Phend Showalter, a daughter of Marion Ora Phend and granddaughter of Christian Phend. Her uncle, Clarence D. Phend was the fellow who wrote the early version of the history of the Phend Family.

Though undocumented and rife with errors, his version of the family history nevertheless provided invaluable information and clues for further research. I will forever be grateful to Clarence for putting it all in writing and to Arba for sending me a copy of it!

Clarence was first married on May 18, 1901 in Elkhart County, Indiana to Myrtle Clyde. It is not known whether Myrtle was deceased or if they were divorced, but, according to Arba, Clarence was married a second time to Lora West on September 22, 1908.

I haven't found Clarence in the 1910 Federal Census but in 1920 he was a 43 year old preacher living in River Town, Mayes County, Oklahoma along with his wife, Lora. She was also 43 years old and a school teacher. In the 1930 census, Clarence and Lora were found in Wye, Perry County, Arkansas. His occupation was given as farmer and she was a public school teacher. In both 1920 and 1930, he was listed as having been born in Indiana and she in Missouri.

It seems that Clarence may have been an itinerant preacher for a time. In an article found online in 2001 (the url is no longer valid) about the Branson, Missouri Presbyterian Church by Townsend Godsey in the White River Valley Historical Quarterly (v 9, Winter 1987) there was this brief sentence “... Revivalists, identified by the Branson Echo as Reverends Ross and Phend, began asking for subscriptions to build a church...”

Of her uncle Clarence, Arba wrote “My information is that his second wife's name was Lola Gray. I wrote to Alice Selby, pastor of the Wye and Bigelow, Arkansas United Methodist church in 1981. She wrote that the church records show that Clarence and Lora Gray Phend became members of the Wye United Brethren Church on August 22, 1943. Lora taught school in the community and Clarence did some preaching. I quote 'They lived in a little cabin about 6 miles south of Bigelow, Arkansas on Highway 113' and 'Lora was raised in Graysville, Missouri and I know that in early days, Rev. Phend was the pastor of a U. B. Church in northern Missouri which may be where he met Lora.' Clarence died on either the 11th or 22nd of March 1945. Lora died November 30, 1951 and both are buried in the Wye, Arkansas cemetery. My mother's information is that Clarence died on the 11th of March 1945 but Alice Selby writes it was March 22nd 1943 which can't be right.”

So it was to find Clarence's burial place that I headed south from Springfield instead of going north. Though I knew “about” where it was, I couldn't find the town of Wye on the road atlas that I had and, luckily, as I entered Arkansas on US Rte 65 there was a welcome center. The nice man gave me a more detailed map and even helped me find Wye, which is about 30 miles northwest of Little Rock.

Even though it was raining and overcast, I opted to get off the main highway and take Scenic Route 7 from Harrison. Route 7 winds and wends its way through the hills and valleys - it wasn't quite so scenic as it would have been on a nice sunny day, but it was still quite pretty. And it didn't rain the whole way. After turning off onto several other back-country roads and traversing their ups and downs, I eventually found myself in the small community of Wye. You can't really call it a town since there are no open stores but there are some houses. And a church. And some vacant buildings.

The half-mile road back to the cemetery is really a one lane gravel path, barely wide enough for one vehicle, with trees bordering both sides of the lane. And it was raining, again. Pouring down. But as I arrived at the cemetery, it let up some and after a few minutes slowed to a drizzle. It was about 4 o'clock. Trees surrounded the cemetery and their darkness contributed to the gloomy day.

Wye Cemetery covers a fairly large area but there aren't that many stones there. It only took half an hour or so to walk the entire cemetery. Clarence and Lora were alongside the front of a fenced in area and I had somehow overlooked them on the first pass through from front to back.

It surprised me that they were buried next to the Rev. Alice Selby. The very same Alice Selby who had provided Arba Showalter with information about Clarence!

Clarence D. Phend, son of Christian and Mary (McConnell) Phend, was born September 18, 1876 in Kosciusko County, Indiana and passed away on March 11, 1945 in Bigelow, Perry County, Arkansas. Lora (West) Phend was born about 1877 and died November 30, 1951. They are buried in Wye Cemetery, Pulaski County, Arkansas.

Note: The 1930 census shows Wye Township in Perry County, Arkansas. The GNIS database and Find-a-Grave both show that it is in Pulaski County. I haven't yet found when the change was made.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Springfield :: Close Memorial Park

While in Springfield (Missouri), we visited the Botanical Gardens at Close Memorial Park. Many of the flowers were no longer in the “pretty” stage but it was a beautiful day nevertheless. There was one flower in particular that I thought was unusual. I neglected to take a picture of the nameplate so I can't tell you what it is...

It apparently goes through a metamorphosis – from a pod with a feather-like covering, unfolding to a beautiful, vibrant white flower.

And there was a visitor sitting atop one of the pods!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


When I began posting my yearly school pictures, I didn't know that the footnoteMaven was going to make "School Days" the topic for the next edition of her "Smile For The Camera" carnival...

Hmm, since I'm in Kansas right now, it seems appropriate to send you off to a post from two years ago... Past its Prime. Or perhaps two posts from earlier in 2007 - Hale Brubaker was a teacher at Crow's Corner School in Whitley County, Indiana in 1904 and his niece and nephew attended Scott School in Troy Township in 1914.

Well, I suppose, since this is supposed to be a post for a "photo" carnival, I should include one here... so here 'tis, a portrait of me drawn by a schoolchild in 1978 while I was on assignment at the Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday :: John Bray

John Bray is my one and only Revolutionary War ancestor who made it to Indiana. He is my 4th Great-Grandfather and is buried in McKay Cemetery, Craig Township, Switzerland County, Indiana.

John was born on April 28, 1761 probably in Maryland or Virginia to Henry and Cathryn Bray. According to other researchers, John's wife was Nancy Morgan, reportedly a sister of Nathan Morgan who also lived in Switzerland County. However, I have found no evidence to support those claims.

According to his pension record affidavit, John enlisted in 1777 in “Romley” Hampshire county, Virginia under Captain William Voss of the 12th Virginia regiment. He served three years and was honorably discharged at Yorktown, Pennsylvania by colonel Morgan. He was wounded in the battles of Brandywine (Delaware), Monmouth (New Jersey) and Stony Point (New York) and also participated in many other skirmishes.

In December 1784, John received a bounty land warrant for 100 acres of land for his three years of service and, with his father and several other siblings took up residence in what was then Nelson County, Virginia (it became Nelson County, Kentucky in 1792).

His first son, John Bray Jr. was born about 1787 so it has been assumed that he married his first wife about 1786 in Nelson County, Virginia but no record of the marriage has been found. It has been assumed that his first seven children were by this wife (presumed to be Nancy Morgan).

John and his children removed to Switzerland County, Indiana at about the time Indiana became a state (1816). On April 15, 1820 in Gallatin County, Kentucky (just across the Ohio River from Vevay) John was married to Mrs. Elizabeth Coones. They would have three (or four) children, the last one born just four years prior to John's death on June 10th 1832 at the age of 71.

John's will, dated June 26th 1832, names his beloved wife Elizabeth and children: the youngest son George Bray got the land. His three oldest sons (John, Daniel, and Samuel Bray) each received one dollar. The three oldest girls (Jane Ray, Elizabeth Cotton, and Nancy Culver) also received one dollar. The three younger girls (Pelina, Amealy, and Sophia Bray) were each given one bed and bedding.

George, Amelia, and Sophia were the children of his wife Elizabeth and perhaps, so was Pelina. We have no record of what became of her.

Much more information on John Bray as well as his siblings and children, can be found in my database on WorldConnect.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

On The Road

Wow, here it is, September 6th already. It's been two weeks since my last post and the time has, quite literally, flown by!

After a few very long and hectic days (and nights) of packing, the apartment was vacated on August 30th - - It was 11pm when I got to my friend's house and 6:30 came around awfully quick the next morning! After my doctor's appointment in Fort Wayne on Monday, I finished going through the last bit of stuff deciding what to take and what to store. We worked a while on installing curtains in the van and after several unsuccessful attempts, came up with something that will work, I hope.

It was a little after 4 pm Tuesday when the bicycle rack and bike were secured to the back of the van. A few minutes later I was on my way, almost. A couple of quick stops to drop off the last few items in storage, get ice for the chest, and gas for the car... I left Columbia City at 5:00 pm

My friends thought I was crazy to leave so late in the day, but I just wanted to be on my way. I also knew, from past experience, that I wouldn't be able to sleep that night. Just too hyper and stressed out. I only drove for 3 hours or so and stopped for the night on my way to southern Indiana.

The next morning I was up at 7:00 but didn't leave the motel until 10:30. The plan was to go to Vevay, in Switzerland County, and to McKay Cemetery to get some good photographs of the grave-sites of my 3rd great grandparents, Samuel and Susanna (Ball) Bray. I had previously taken pictures of the stones but they were covered with moss or lichens and the images were not legible. I knew that the stones faced west, so the best time to photograph them would be shortly after noon. It was about 12:30 when I arrived at the cemetery and, as suspected the stones were still covered with lichen and illegible. However, a little bit of water and a soft bristle brush made all the difference in the world!

Vevay is a nice little town on the Ohio River that was a major stop for river boats and packets traveling along the Ohio back in the day. Someone has commemorated that history with a fine mural painted on one of the buildings just north of the city parking lot, near the library. I should have, but didn't, take the time to find out who the artist was or when it was done.

It's a challenge to drive on the backroads through the hills and valleys of Switzerland County, but it is fun too. McKay Cemetery is situated on top of a hill on the east side of Patton Hollow Road. Isn't that a neat name? Nice and quiet, except for the dogs barking. There are three houses near the cemetery, one on the east side and two on the west, but I saw nary another soul. And though I could hear people talking occasionally, I couldn't make out what they were saying. Once in a while a car or farm vehicle would pass by, but otherwise it was pretty quiet and peaceful.

I stopped for lunch in Vevay at 3 o'clock and finally hit the road again at 3:30. A couple more hours driving and I stopped for the night at some little burg along US 231.

The next day I took US 231 south to Owensboro, Kentucky and then to US 60 the rest of the way through Kentucky and on into Springfield, Missouri. The drive through Kentucky was beautiful. It was a two-lane highway all the way and not much traffic. I enjoyed it tremendously. Crossing the Mississippi River into Missouri, the road changed to a four lane limited access highway, with parts still under construction. Somewhat desolate looking and rather boring scenery. But it was easy driving and I made good time, arriving at my destination a little after 7 pm.