Eleanor Bonney Linsley Johnson Rogers

Vintage Postcard of Main Street Branford, Connecticut in the early 1900’s

Eleanor Bonney Linsley was born on March 20, 1870 in Northford, Connecticut to Captain James Halsey Linsley and Catherine Dean (Conant) Linsley. She was the oldest of two children, with her brother Arthur joining the family four years later.

Eleanor’s father, James, had been injured during the civil war. When she was ten years old, he was listed on the 1880 federal census as a farmer in North Branford. Her mother was a housewife, Eleanor was attending school, Arthur at home, and the family employed an African American woman named Margret Mense as a servant. Margret also lived in the household.

As a young woman, Eleanor attended a private school in Vermont. She was twenty-one when she graduated in the early summer of 1891. I found the following article in the Morning Journal and Courier from New Haven, Connecticut dated June 24, 1981:

Prize Awarded a New Haven Young Lady.

SAXTON’S RIVER, VT., June 23.-A feature of the exercises at the commencement of Vermont university to-day was the prize contest in declamation. The first prize was awarded to Frank H. Spencer, Deep River, Conn.; second, Alice Parkis, North Uxbridge, Mass.; third, Eleanor Linsley, New Haven, Conn. The battalion was reviewed by Major Bond of Vermont National guard and Colonel John J. Estey and Lieutenant Gray Estey of the Estey guard.

A prize contest in declamation would mean that Eleanor placed third in a public speaking contest. I believe that Vermont University was in fact Vermont Academy, a private, co-educational school for both high school and one year of further education. The school was founded in 1876.

A few years later, we find another mention of Eleanor in the newspaper. She was twenty-four years old and back in Connecticut teaching school. This article is again from the Morning Journal and Courier – New Haven, Connecticut and dated March 29, 1894:

North Haven

March 26- Miss Eleanor Linsley of the Center school has several times furnished choice flowers for Flora’s table at the grange and many thanks are due Miss Linsley for the favors. Last night the offering was lovely narcissus and dark violet heliotropes.

At some point, Eleanor acquired a passion for family history and begin to put together a large genealogy collection in 1896 when when she was twenty-six years old. In this history, she mentions that the Linsleys came to America from Laughton, West Linsley, Lincolnshire, England.

Eleanor’s Genealogical Pot-Pourri – 1896

On March 16, 1899, Eleanor married Mr. Albert Brown Spalding Johnson. She was twenty-eight years old and Albert was twenty-six. The couple married in Eleanor’s hometown of Northford.

A year later, when the census takers came around on the 1st of June, 1900, they were living in Pomfret, Connecticut where Albert was listed as a farmer. Eleanor was thirty-years old and a month away from giving birth to the couple’s first child. An eighty-year old woman named Rachel Blackmore was living with the Johnson family and listed as a hired nurse. All three adults can read and write and the farm is owned free and clear.

The next paper trail that Eleanor left behind is ten years later when she shows up in the 1910 federal census. Eleanor is now forty and divorced. She is back in North Branford with her two young sons, Arthur Linsley Johnson, age 9, and Walter Halsey Johnson, age 7. Eleanor is now farming her own land and her mother, Catherine, is widowed and living with the family. The postcard at the top of the story was taken around this time in their hometown.

On May 12, 1914, Eleanor married for the second time. Her new husband was Albert Louis Rogers. Reverend W.H. McLain preformed the ceremony. Louis was forty-five and Eleanor was forty-four.

At the age of forty-five, Eleanor gave birth to a daughter, Katharine Jeannette Rogers. Little Kay was born in Northford on September 22, 1915.

On the 1920 United States Federal Census, the Rogers family is living in New Haven and Louis is working as a carpenter. All three of Eleanor’s children are still at home. Arthur is nineteen and employed doing office work, and Walter is seventeen and working as a farm laborer. Little Katharine is just four years old.

Eleanor was a forward-thinking woman and belonged to several organizations, including the League of Women Voters. She was instrumental in preserving the Little Red Schoolhouse in North Branford where her father had once taught school. Once moved to it’s new location, I believe she was the first librarian there. I do know she was the first Northford public librarian.

Sadly, when Eleanor was fifty-six years old, she became a widow. Louis passed away on June 29, 1926, leaving her on her own again with a ten-year old daughter.

On September 28, 1928, Eleanor’s son, Walter, died in a airplane stunt accident. From all accounts, he was a daredevil. The following is from an article dated September 29, 1928 in the New Britain Herald:

Air Stunt Man Is Killed In Fall – Walter Johnson, Known Here, Flew With Local Pilot

Chester, Conn., Sept. 29 – Walter H. Johnson of Middletown has hitched up his parachute, stepped from the wing of an airplane and pulled the rip-cord 169 times. One hundred and sixty-eight times, the parachute has opened and he has sailed gracefully to earth before admiring crowds. The 169th- yesterday-he pulled the rip-cord but the parachute failed to open. He was killed as he plunged with terrific force into Chester lake.

Johnson’s demonstration was to have been a feature of a fair. Several hundred persons saw him leap from a plane piloted by Charles L. Wright of New Britain 1500 feet in the air and drop like a plummet into the water.

Wright, unaware of the tragedy that had befallen his companion, returned to Brainard field, Hartford, according to a pre-arranged plan.

Well Known Here

Mr. Johnson, while not a New Britain man, was well known in this city. Several years ago when an air meet was held here Mr. Johnson was injured when his parachute opened slowly and he struck the ground with force enough to sprain an ankle. He was treated on the field by Dr. Edward Curran, who later became police surgeon.

Mr. Wright, the pilot, is a local boy who has never had an accident with his plane. He says he had a premonition yesterday that it was not safe for parachute jumping because of the high wind. Due to this fact Wright insisted upon Johnson signing a waiver, releasing the L.&H. Aircraft corporation from any responsibility in the event of an accident.

From family accounts, by the time the great depression rolled around, Eleanor was also a bit crippled up with bad hips and knee’s and sometimes needed crutches to get around. Both her and Kay went to live with her son Arthur and his family. That is where we find her on the 1930 federal census. The family lived in North Branford. Arthur was working as an accountant for a toy manufacturer and his wife Adele was listed as a farmer. They had three of their own children, Arthur, Jr., 8; Adele, 4; and Walter, who was just a baby. Add in sixty-year-old Eleanor and fourteen-year-old Kay and it must have been a packed household.

In 1940 when the census takers came around again, Eleanor is still in her son Arthur’s household. He is still an accountant, but now is working for the local housing authority. Arthur and Adele have added another daughter to the family, six-year-old Nancy.

On the website Family Search, Nancy has left some notes about her grandmother. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your memories! Here is some of what she said:

Gram was a widow and came to live with us during the Great Depression....

As a young woman, Gram had been a teacher and a librarian and the facts she carried in her head were remarkable. We used her as a dictionary and an atlas. When we needed a word defined she would always say, “And what is the context?” She seemed to know all of the world’s capitals and their geography. One of my brothers once asked her, “Gram, are you the smartest person in the world?” She chortled happily.

Gram’s talents extended to watercolor painting, baking, and every kind of handiwork. In her younger years, she won prizes at the county fair for her pies and her needlework. The vision of her in an easy chair with the knitting needles or tatting shuttle flying is indelible in my mind.

In later years, Gram lived with her daughter and eventually a nursing home. She died quietly, holding a teddy bear, at the age of 94.”

Eleanor passed away in the nursing home on July 15, 1966.

If any family members can tell me where she is buried and/or have a picture of Eleanor, we would greatly appreciate you sharing that with us! Thank you in advance. Please share any memories or stories you have of Eleanor as well.

(Eleanor is Riff’s great-grandmother)

“My great-grandma, Grandma Kay’s mother, is the oldest relative I ever remember meeting. I only remember meeting her once. She was in her 90’s and blind and living in a nursing home. I was only about four and I think she died shortly afterwards. I remember being at the nursing home with my mom and Grandma Kay.” ~ Riff Niziolek

“Gram told the best childhood stories. One story was when she was a little girl, she could remember when electricity came over the mountain (just a large hill) into town. People would gather in front of the general store and watch as the one lightbulb that hung from the ceiling was turned on by pulling the cord…and the people were astounded by it. She would be floored by what we have today.” ~ Lee Niziolek

Albert Louis Rogers

Albert Louis Rogers, who preferred to use the name Louis, grew up in the town of Branford, Connecticut on the Long Island sound. He was the fourth of eight children born to Albert Towner Rogers and Jane Malone (Drumheller) Rogers. His father was a wheelwright and a farmer.

The New Haven Register ran a short story about Louis and his daring rattlesnake wrangling in the Saturday, August 16, 1884 edition. He was sixteen.

Rattlesnakes at High Rock

Yesterday, Louis Rogers, a Branford lad, who was picnicking at High Rock grove, strayed away from the revelers into a more remote part of the grounds, where he discovered a monster rattlesnake, though it had but seven rattles. Master Rogers is something of a snake-hunter and soon had the venomous reptile under control, and finally bore it away in triumph in a cigar-box. He is said to have a growing mania for catching live snakes of all kinds. In his regular hunts he chloroforms them and then preserves them in alcohol.

When Louis was twenty-one, he made the paper again. This time it was the Connecticut Western News, dated Wednesday, July 17, 1889:

‘Just above the village on Monday, one of the Rogers’ Farm horses took fright and ran, throwing out the occupants of the buggy, Mr. James A. House and Louis Rogers, with great violence and came down through Main street at break-neck speed, landing on Smith & Sons’ back stoop, among their stock of farming implements, with a crash that startled everybody. Very fortunately no one was injured.’

On December 20, 1892, we find Louis attending a banquet for, and listed as a member of, The Junior Prohibition Club in Guilford, Connecticut. 110 people were present and they dined on clams, oysters, , beef loaf, roast chicken, celery salad, and cake, with lemonade, coffee, and tea as refreshment. Louis gave the speech in honor of the junior members.

When Louis was twenty-seven, we find him in the newspaper again. This time it is the Morning Journal and Courier – New Haven, dated 12 Jan. 1895. Louis was a member of the Patriotic Order Sons of America, which is a fraternity that teaches patriotic ways and flag etiquette. Not only did Louis deliver one of the many speeches at a gathering in New Haven, he also wrote the article!

He shows up again in the New Haven Register on Friday, December 31, 1897:

‘Some very fine photographs have just been finished, giving a birds-eye view of the town (Branford) taken by Louis Rogers from his tower at Millplain.’

On August 4, 1906, when Louis was thirty-eight years old, he is listed as the shortstop on a downtown baseball team.

In December of that same year, Louis is mentioned again in the paper. This time the article is about voter fraud.

‘Voter Buying in Branford

The hearing begun in the Common Pleas Court, yesterday, to investigate alleged corrupt practices in the State election in Branford developed sensational features today. Five more witnesses were examined, and the hearing closed. Louis Rogers, one of the witnesses, said he was offered $3 to vote, and rather than be enrolled on the list of purchasable voters, which he said numbered 200 in Branford out of a total list of 1,100, he stayed at home.’ Good for you, Louis. Good for you!

The next time we find Louis is March 4, 1908 in an obituary for his mother in the Morning Journal and Courier out of New Haven. I will save the whole obit for her story, but here is Louis’ part.

‘Mrs. Albert T. Rogers, who resided just beyond the power house on the Guilford turnpike, was found dead in her chair by her son, Louis A. Rogers, Monday noon.’ Sad.

In 1910, at forty-two years of age, Louis was still living at the family home, farming along with his father. His sister Emma, age thirty, was also at home, along with two boarders.

On May 12, 1914, Louis married Eleanor Bonney Linsley Johnson in Northford, Connecticut. The couple was married by Reverend W.H. McClain. It was the first marriage for Louis, but the second for Eleanor. She brought two sons to the marriage with her – Arthur Linsley Johnson and Walter Halsey Johnson.

The following year, the couple welcomed a bouncing baby girl. Katharine Jeannette Rogers was born in Northford on September 22, 1915.

In 1917, Louis participated in a military census questionnaire, that tells us a few things about the man. The form is dated February 17, 1917 and was filled out in North Branford, Connecticut when Louis was forty-eight years of age. At the time, Louis stated that he was not employed but that he had a background in general contracting. He was a slight man, with his height listed as 5’8″ and his weight only 125 pounds. He stated he had no previous military experience. He knew how to ride a horse, ride a motorcycle, and was a moderate swimmer. Under the question as to whether or not he had any serious disabilities, he told the interviewer that he had a spinal disability and heart trouble.

When the census takers came around on January 7, 1920, Louis is fifty-one-years-old and working as a carpenter. Eleanor is forty-nine and keeping house, stepson Arthur is nineteen and working as an office clerk, Walter is seventeen and a farm laborer, and little Katharine is just four-years-old.

Louis passed away in 1926 at the young age of fifty-eight. He is buried in the Branford Center Cemetery in Branford, Connecticut.

(Louis is Riff’s great-grandfather.)

Harry Elvyn Kennison

Harry E. Kennison died peacefully on February 23, 2019, at the age of 93 in Vancouver, Wash. He was born February 12, 1926, and raised in Wallowa, Ore., where his ancestors homesteaded in 1872 after traveling on the Oregon Trail.

Harry as a teenager in Wallowa

A child of the Great Depression, he joined the Marines as soon as he turned 18 and participated in battles at Okinawa and Iwo Jima, where he was one of the last lines of defense against kamikaze pilots.

After the war, he returned to the Wallowa Valley, where he became a saw filer at the local lumber mill, and, in 1949, married another Wallowa resident, Mary Elizabeth Jackson Kennison. They were happily married for 68 years until her death in 2017.

At the mill, Harry steadily worked his way up to a management role, eventually becoming general manager of Kinzua Corporation and holding patents on hydraulic lumber mill machinery. He was so recognized in his field that the Oregon Board of Education consulted with him regarding vocational training.

After many job-related moves to small towns across Oregon and Washington (including Pilot Rock, Baker City, Heppner and Omak), Harry and Mary settled down in Salem, Ore., for their retirement. Many happy hours were spent golfing at the Santiam golf course, visiting grandchildren, and exploring exotic locales such as Fiji and Tahiti.

Harry was always passionate about sports, whether it was receiving a football scholarship to Linfield College (which he turned down in favor of serving our country), coaching Little League and Babe Ruth baseball in adulthood, or ardently following Oregon State University football, baseball and women’s basketball until his last few days.

He was preceded in death by Mary, their daughter Janine Kennison, and son Kyle Kennison. He is survived and greatly missed by his daughter Kara Kennison (and husband James Baumberger), son Gary Miller (and wife Jolene), six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, as well as countless other family members and friends.

Baby daughter Janine is buried next to her parents in the cemetery in Wallowa, Oregon.

He is remembered for his intelligence, good advice, sense of humor, always doing the right thing, and for being one of the best men we ever met.

A memorial service was held in celebration of his life on Saturday, June 8 at Church of the Good Shepherd in Vancouver, Washington.

(This obituary for Harry was run in the Eastern Oregonian newspaper.)

Harry and Mary are buried side by side in the Wallowa, Oregon cemetery.
(Harry is my great-uncle.)

Janice Simmons Sannar’s Birthdays

Janice – A year and a half old – October 1945

Janice kept diaries throughout the years, so we are lucky to have these glimpses into several of her birthdays, in her own words.

1960 – January 9 – Saturday – Wallowa, Oregon:

Janice on her 16th birthday – Wallowa, Oregon
The Simmons Kids – from left to right – Judy (14), Randy (13), Janice (16), and Phil (17)

1962 – January 9 – Tuesday – Ketchikan, Alaska:

Tommy’s folks gave me my birthday present all ready. It’s a pair of real cute slippers. They are pink. They are those kind that has a piece of stuff just across your foot. It’s made out of fluffy stuff. I’ll cut a picture of them out of the catalog so you know what I’m talking about. They got Judy (Thornburg) a record of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s hymns. Tommy gave me a card this morning and I got one from my folks, so now I have two of them.

It’s raining outside now and has been for about a week. Every once in a while it stops for a little bit. It sure is a lot of rain! I’m beginning to wonder if it’ll ever stop. Tommy said it’s the longest he’s ever seen it rain up here. It’s really been raining for about two weeks but the sun shined for two days last week. It sure was pretty. It’s real warm outside even if it is raining. It’s 40°.

1975 – January 9 – Thursday – Elgin, Oregon:

   24° above this morning. My birthday. 31 years! Went to Mom and Daddy’s and ate supper. Started snowing about 2:30 p.m. and snowed all evening. Phyllis and Jim came in and had birthday cake.

1979 – January 9 – Tuesday – Elgin, Oregon:

Janice’s 35th birthday – This was taken at her parents house in Elgin, Oregon

1980 – January 9 – Wednesday – Elgin, Oregon:

Today is my birthday. I’m 36! Can hardly believe it. I’ve come thru another really good year. I’m moving on up closer to the 40’s age and it really doesn’t bother me at all. It just seems kind of funny that I’m 36, just a year younger then Tommy’s Mom was when we got married! 30° at 4:30 a.m. Wind blowing and starting to snow, again! Kids all went to school and Tommy to work. I fixed chicken dinner. I got so many nice cards. I usually only get two or three and this year I got 10! Tommy gave me two little knife sharpeners and a knife. Susan gave me a bridal veil plant and it is so pretty. It’s hanging in the front room window. She gave me a turtle waterer, too. Stacey gave me an owl wind chime and Paula a pretty card with horses on it. Todd drew some pictures of things I like. I really did have a nice birthday. Susan made a cake and she made chocolate ice cream, too. It was so good. Stacey milked cow. Three deer behind house.

1981 – January 9 – Friday – Elgin, Oregon:

   29° at 5:30 a.m., cloudy.  6 eggs.  Wow, 37 years old, now! Tommy and I are the same age his folks were when we got married! Susan and I went to town (oh, Stacey went, too!) and bought groceries. Tommy gave the girls some money so they bought me 5 pair of undies. Boy, does it seem nice to have some decent ones! I got a crewel picture to do, too. It’s really fun to do it but slow, too. We had German sausages for supper and Susan baked me a cake!

1982 – January 9 – Saturday – Elgin, Oregon:

   My birthday! 38 years, already! 9° above at 6:30 a.m. Moon shining thru clouds. Really looks pretty. Got kids up right after 7 a.m. so they wouldn’t have to do chores in dark. It was cool out. Cold breeze blowing! Burr! Everything fine at barn. Willie is getting ornerier, tho and butts other sheep around. He’s going to have to go. Helga is getting lots tamer and even talks to me.

     Came in house and had hot chocolate. Cleaned it up some and got ready to go to town. Tommy put plastic up at house to enclose living room so he could heat it better. Then he shoveled off trailer (his folks), chicken house and barn roof. Really had a lot of snow on them.

            Went to La Grande after lunch and bought groceries. Bought me a birthday cake, too. Wind really blowing out thru valley! Tommy got ruined tire switched with a better tire that we had. That was only $17. Better then weekend before!

            Stopped at Mom’s on our way home and had some ice cream. They gave me a new pair of scissors for my birthday! I needed them so bad! Got home and unloaded Wagoneer. Stacey dropped beer. Only broke one bottle! Kids did chores while I fixed supper. (Mom, Judy, and Peggy called.) Put groceries away. Had hamburgers. Yuk! Went over to Miller’s afterwards and took my cake to share with them. Road not bad. Got a real pretty card from Susan and Kenny today and a really cute one from Randy and Shelley. The kids gave me a cute card, too and Stacey made me a doily. It’s red with white lace around it and little red ribbons on the corners. It’s really pretty! Moon shining so pretty. It’s full. Up to 25°.

1983 – January 9 – Sunday – Elgin, Oregon:

   Today is my birthday. 39 years old! Gosh, can hardly believe it! Time sure hurries by fast. I really don’t feel much different than I did 20 years ago and I still want to be a writer! I’ve got a few more kids and more gray hair and a few more pounds but other than that I’m the same person. I know I’m more relaxed with life, tho and am not as serious as I used to be but that’s part of growing up, I think. If I had these years to live over I would want to do it pretty much the same.

   It was 30° this morning at 6 a.m. with snow lightly falling. The wind has quit blowing and it is peaceful and quiet.

   Peggy called this morning and sang happy birthday to me. She wanted us to come to dinner this afternoon but we were going to Mom’s. Judy Hulse called too. Sure was glad to talk to her. Wished they could come over!

   Gave Joshua his bath. He got so mad when I took him out. Tommy put stops on big front window and then he washed it. Sure looks a lot better.

   Went to Mom’s to eat lunch. Randy, Shelley, Lance and Josette, and Phil and June and Marcie were there, too. Really enjoyed it and everything tasted so good. Had kind of like Swiss steak, dressing and three salads. Shelley made two of them. And German chocolate cake and ice cream.

   Tommy and kids gave me cards and Stacey gave me an air freshener and a doily to set it on. Todd is fixing a piece of log to stick suet in for the birds. Mom gave me a pretty frosty looking salad bowl and Randy and Shelley gave me a spaghetti spoon, a toaster cover with chicken and eggs on it, and Charlie perfume. Marvalene called while we were at Mom’s! Todd and Lance want to write a book about trapping bananas! Susan and Kenny gave me a book called Mollie. A true journal of a pioneer lady. Tommy’s folks sent me bell wind chimes. Lynda came out Thursday and gave me a little lamp that holds a candle (I set it on my desk) and a picture she made. They are really cute.

   Came home and kids did chores, then we went to Miller’s. Stacey stayed home. Tommy and Todd rode their buggies. They’ve put wallpaper in the living room. Really looks nice. Peggy made chess pies. Good!

   Wind blowing hard, again!

   Lady got stuck on ice in pond and Stacey and Todd had to go rescue her!

A Family Squeeze – Jan 1983 – Back Row: Phil, Shelley, and Randy Simmons – Front Row: June Simmons, Janice and Tommy Sannar

1984 – January 9 – Monday – Elgin, Oregon:

Paula made me a Gnome in ceramics. It is so cute. That was my birthday present from her.

1986 – January 9 – Thursday – Redding, California:

Paula got me a flannel nightgown for my birthday. Really, she let me pick it out and then she paid for it! Did I tell you Grandma and Grandpa sent me a little birdfeeder that fits on the window? It’s so cute but no birds have come to it. Maybe I should try putting bird seed in it! Todd thought that might help.

     Boy, I guess I was popular on my birthday. I got four phone calls. From Mom, then Judy (Hulse) called that morning. I talked to Dale, too! Then almost 4 p.m. Susan called. They are fine and she said it had warmed up and was 60° the day before. About 9:30 p.m. Marvalene called from work. She’d just gotten off work. I talked to a bunch of her friends and they told me happy birthday. Even Ron! Sure was fun and made me feel good to get all those calls! Paula made banana splits and they were yummy. She made me a chocolate cake, too. Susan and Kenny gave me a little tea pot with cups like the Chinese use. It’s just brown and tan colors and no flowers. Now I’ve got to get some Chinese tea.

1990 – January 9 – Tuesday – Cottonwood, California:

I got three cards on my birthday! One from Mom (no, that was yesterday!), one from Mattson’s and from Tommy’s folks. They even called me the evening of my birthday. And then they sent me a pretty little crystal thing to hang in the window. My Mom called me the morning of my birthday.

     The place Paula took me to for Chinese dinner didn’t look like much but the food was delicious. I really enjoyed it. Paula and John and the girls gave me an album that she’d put some of my old pictures in and some newer one’s too. They came out for a while that evening. Todd gave me a sympathy card! Then he gave me one with the prettiest saying on it.

     Paula took Shilo to the hospital on my birthday because she just couldn’t breath right and she kept coughing. She was beginning to get stuff in her lungs so they gave her medicine and she’s doing better now. Poor baby. She took her to the doctor yesterday and he told her it’s just a virus.

I went in and saw Marianne the afternoon of my birthday. I had to call her back Thursday because she called a diabetic specialist to see if he could tell me what to do to keep from having these sugar drops. I’m back on the 1200 calorie diet and if I feel I need a snack, especially in mid-morning, I’ll have one. I have to do several blood readings at all different times and then go back on the 18th to show Marianne what I’m doing. She had me get a chart that will be easier to read then all my notes on paper! I sure hope it all works.

1991 – January 9 – Wednesday – Cottonwood, California:

   The weatherman was right this time. It’s 40° and raining! What a nice and peaceful sound to wake up to.

   It’s my 47th birthday! Wow! I can hardly believe it. I know that the next 47 years are going to even be better than the last one’s were. Most of it has been pretty great. Help me to think happy and inspiring thoughts every day and to help and make other people feel good. Let me reach out and touch other people and give encouragement where it is needed. And to do more writing and send it in. Thanks Father God!

1993 – January 9 – Saturday – Red Bluff, California:

   It’s my Birthday! I turned 49 years old. Wow! I thought I would be old and decrepit by now but I’m not. Actually I really am not feeling good today (or this evening!) but it’s just the flu. Joshua has it, too. What a grouch. Tommy bought me a cake at Costco and we got pizza from Round Table delivered. Little Tommy helped me blow out my candles. I got calls from Stacey, Mom, Paula and Susan. Thanks for a terrific day, Father.

Janice blowing out her candles on her 49th birthday with a little help from Little Tommy.

1994 – January 9 – Sunday – Red Bluff, California:

   My Birthday! Up early this morning when I heard soft knocking on the bedroom door. Little Tommy had an accident in his bed. This started off my birthday!! My 50th Birthday! Wow! Whoever thought! I had a real nice day. We drove up to Chester and it’s beautiful there. Love it! Paula watched the kids in the evening while Tommy and I went to eat at The Greenbarn and to the show of Mrs. Doubtfire. Both were good! Susan, Mom, Judy & Marvalene called. Had really good visits. Stacey called while we were gone. It was a great day! Thank You Father. Sugar level bad! 234! Help me!

Janice on her 50th birthday – January 9, 1994

1996 – January 9 – Tuesday – Powell, Wyoming:

   Happy Birthday to me! WOW! I can hardly believe I’m 52 years old already. The years just zoomed away but most of them have been pretty good ones. I really don’t feel inside like I’m that old but my body keeps sending me some kind of messages! It hurts a lot! So I’ve got to get more active and lose some weight. That is one of my goals this year.

   Judy Ennis came and we went to Cody to Paula’s for “our” Birthday lunch. Susan and Stacey were there, too and it was fun. We ate stuffed pasta shells and had birthday cake and presents. Mom called me in the morning (it was raining) and Tommy’s folks called in the evening (it was 80°!). That was great hearing from them.

     Judy seems to be less stressed about the church but it still hurts. Joshua was sick again today. Big Tommy not feeling good and Little Tommy being a pill! But Father God Thank You so much for this Terrific Neat Day!

   This morning it was warmer (18°) so Shadow was a little later coming in to eat her breakfast. As soon as she finishes she runs off to Joshua’s room as fast as she can cause she knows she’s not supposed to be in. Landlord rule. Joshua was sick and laying in bed, and when he moved she bit his arm so out she went!

1997 – January 9 – Thursday – Red Bluff, California:

   My Birthday! It really seems strange to think I’m 53 years old! I don’t feel much different and where has the time gone! I know in raising a family and Living Life. Ate lunch with Nancy, Dolores, Lois and Bobbi at Streamside in Redding. It was fun but I did miss the time at Paula’s last year in Cody with the girls and Judy Ennis! Ruby came and talked to me about Melaleuca! Thanks for my Birthday Day, Father.  

1998 – January 9 – Friday – Red Bluff, California:

   About 46° at 5 a.m. and still cloudy. The moon is shining bright on it’s journey to Becoming Full! Today is my 54th Birthday!! Wow! This was such a Special Day. I got calls from our three girls, my Mom, my two sisters and Judy Ennis. What great visits I had on the phone and Tommy took me to Perko’s for lunch and we had Papa Murphy’s pizza for supper and watched a movie. Joshua gave me a pillow he made. Thank you Father God for this Most Wonderful, Special Day!

A page from Janice’s baby book

(Janice is the daughter of Rolin Clay Simmons and Leoma Nesta (Dallas) Simmons)

Abijah M. and Mary E. (Harris) Hulse

The Hulse Family ~ Seated: Abjiah and Mary Standing: Mary Pearl and Edgar

Abijah M. Hulse was born on August 6, 1838 in a small village in northern Illinois called Pecatonica. His parents were Joseph G. and Achasah (Gandy) Hulse. Abijah was the fifth of twelve children.

When Abijah was five years old, a little girl was born in Ohio who would later become his wife. Her name was Mary Elizabeth Harris and her parents were David Andrew and Aretia Hannah (Tuttle) Harris. Mary was born on May 9, 1843 in Knox Township, Holmes county, Ohio, the fourth of six children. Like Abijah’s father, Mary’s father was also a farmer.

Mary was only seven years old when her mother passed away in June of 1850.

In 1850, the Hulse family was living in the same area of Illinois. Abijah’s father was listed on the census as a farmer, which was very common for the area where they lived. Abijah was twelve years old and I imagine helping on the farm, since later census’ show that he was never able to read or write.

Three years later, in 1853, the railroad pushed through the village of Pecatonica, bringing an easier way to travel and to trade goods.

By 1860, Mary’s family, the Harris’, had moved. They were now living on a farm near Elm Grove township in southeastern Iowa. Mary’s dad is still farming, but now he is also listed on the census as Dr. David Harris.

Here in Elm Grove is where Abijah Hulse and Mary Harris must have met. On December 19th of 1860, the two were married in Elm Grove. Abijah was 22 years old and Mary just 17.

A year later, on December 4th, 1861, the couple welcomed their first child into the world – a little daughter that they named after Abijah’s mother, Achsah Alice Hulse. The family was living in or near Council Bluffs, Iowa when Achsah was born.

It seems that they moved around quite a bit for a while. Son Austin A. was born in Colorado in 1863; John Asa in Nebraska in 1864; and Shepherd Abijah in Nebraska in 1869.

By the time the census takers came around in August of 1870, the Hulse family was living in Pleasant Hill Township in Saline county, Nebraska. Like both of their fathers, Abijah was farming. Mary was listed as “keeping house” and neither of the pair could read or write.

Another son, Orlando Scott, joined the family in 1873. He was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. Little Lorenzo Charles came along in 1876 when the family was living in Fort Collins, Colorado. Three years later along came Mary Pearl in 1879, also born in Fort Collins.

On June 11th of 1880, the family was back in Nebraska. The 1880 federal census finds them living in Monroe, Nebraska, where Abijah is again listed as a farmer. Two of the boys, Shepherd, age 11, and Orlando, age 7, are listed as attending school.

The next time we find the Hulse family, they have relocated once again. It is August of 1884, and the family has traveled west, all the way to a remote corner of Oregon. They are living, and farming, near Enterprise, Oregon in Wallowa county when the last of their eight children is born. A son, Edgar Herbert Hulse, arrived on August 30, 1884. Abijah became a father for the last time at 46 years of age, and Mary a mother at 41.

Mary and Abijah will stay put this time. They must have finally felt like they found home. To this day, some of their descendants live in the Wallowa Valley.

Unfortunately, all stories don’t have a happy ending, and Mary and Abijah’s life together ended in tragedy. In early September of 1896, Abijah was judged to be insane. He was taken to the asylum in Salem, Oregon where he only lived about three weeks before passing away.

I don’t have all the details of what happened to cause Abijah to be considered insane, just one small notice in The Oregonian dated Monday, Sep. 14, 1896:

Mr. A.M. Hulse, an old and respected citizen of Wallowa county, was adjudged insane and taken to the asylum last Monday.

That’s it. That’s all it says. I have reached out to the historical society in Marion county, Oregon, hoping that someone can help me to find his medical records or something that can shed some light on this.

Abijah died in the asylum on the 28th of September, 1896. He was only 58 years old. Many of the patients that died there were cremated and I have found one small note that indicates that may have been the case with Abijah, but that is not certain. I will keep searching and update the information here if I am able to unearth any more information.

Now this event left Mary a widow at the age of 53 and after 36 years of marriage. She still had two of the children at home, Mary Pearl who was 16 at the time and Edgar who was 12. The family continued to live in the Enterprise area.

In 1909, there was a small mention of Mary in the local newspaper, dated Wednesday, July 21, 1909:

Mrs. Mary E. Hulse went to Wallowa Saturday to visit friends a few days.

Those were the days, when simply going to visit rated a mention in the paper.

On April 28, 1910, the census takers came around again. Mary is found living in Enterprise with her son (Orlando) Scott Hulse and his family. Scott is working for himself as a teamster and owns his own home.

We find her ten years later on the 1920 census. This time Mary is living in Pine, Oregon in Baker county with another son, (Lorenzo) Charles Hulse and his family. Charles is a farmer like his father and his grandfathers before him.

Mary lived to be almost 81 years old. She died on February 29th, 1924 and is buried in the Pine Haven Cemetery in Halfway, Oregon.

Mary E. Hulse 1843 – 1924

As always, if you have any other information about Abijah or Mary, please let me know. Or simply any stories that you remember about them and their life, please share!

(Abijah and Mary are my 3rd great-grandparents)

Roger and Sarah (Horton) Conant

Roger Conant – Founder of Salem, Massachusetts

Roger Conant was born in the southwest of England in the small village of East Budleigh in Devonshire. He came into this world on April 9th, 1592, the youngest of eight children born to Richard and Agnes (Clarke) Conant. His father was a merchant in town and a church warden at All Saints Church in East Budleigh.

Six years after Roger was born, little Sarah Horton came into this world in 1598. (Or thereabout. Her birthdate and year are not certain.) Sarah was the daughter of Thomas and Catherine (Satchfield) Horton and was born just two miles away in the seaside village of Budleigh. Not long after, the Horton family relocated to London, where Sarah’s father was a merchant on Friday Street.

On the 11th of November in 1618, Roger and Sarah married at St. Ann Blackfriars Church in London. Sarah was 20 and Roger was 26 years of age. Roger was a drysalter by trade – meaning he dealt in salted and dried meats, pickles, and possibly even chemicals and paint.

In September of 1619, Roger and Sarah welcomed their first child, a daughter that they named Sarah. Little Sarah would live only a little over a year, passing away in October of 1620 in London. Next came a baby boy, Caleb, who was born on May 27, 1622. A year later, along came another baby girl who they once again called Sarah.

In 1623, Roger and Sarah loaded up their young family and set sail to America aboard the sailing vessel “Ann” or “Destiny.” There is some confusion on which ship they sailed on. Roger’s brother Christopher was onboard with them. The family arrived in the Plymouth colony in 1623 or 1624. Once they arrived, Roger found that he did not agree with the strict, and what he believed to be overzealous beliefs of the Puritans. He was shocked by the violent outbursts that he witnessed. The Conant family didn’t stay long in Plymouth, but instead, leading a group of other dissenters, he moved north. However, before they left Plymouth, another son was born. They named him Lot.

They first settled in an area called Nantasket in 1624, then moved to Cape Ann in 1625, where another daughter, Joanna, was born. The Conant’s then moved on, founding the village of Salem, Massachusetts in 1626. Roger then was appointed as the first governor of the English people in Massachusetts.

Roger built the first home in Salem on what is now Essex Street. The home no longer exists.

Both of these signs are hanging in the Salem Museum in historic downtown Salem, Massachusetts.

Roger and Sarah welcomed another son, Roger, soon after they settled Salem. Why the two little girls, Sarah and Joanna, are not listed on this sign is beyond me. (Records from this time are few and far between. It is quite possible that I have their birth years wrong.) In the following years, four more children were born to the Conants – Joshua, Mary, Elizabeth, and Exercise.

Roger served for two years as the Governor of the new colony before John Endicott was appointed. In the first sign above, you will see that it says that Roger “stepped aside gracefully.” While we were in the museum in Salem, I told the historian about the family connection and asked if that gracefully statement was true. He scoffed a bit and then told us that no, it was not. He said that there are papers and letters that indicate the two men hated to each other. They didn’t come to blows, but it was not an amiable transition as history would want us to believe. Boy what I would give to get my hands on those letters!

Roger was given 200 acres of land in Marblehead as a severance when he was replaced as governor. He then crossed over the river and founded the communities of Danvers and Beverly.

I find it very interesting that, even though the governorship was taken away from him, Roger still loved his community and was very active in Salem affairs. In 1630, he was appointed as a voting stockholder in the Massachusetts Bay Company, he held the office of Deputy to the general court in Salem in 1632, he was an active member of the Salem church, and was a lot layer or surveyor in both Salem and Beverly. He was elected as a town Selectman for several terms. In 1643, he was elected as Director of Highway Repairs, and then Surveyor of Highways in 1644. This entire time he was also a “Planter” or farmer on his property in Beverly. He was a busy man.

Life in colonial America was hard. Roger and Sarah not only lost their first daughter back in England, but in 1633, their oldest son Caleb died at eleven years of age. In 1659, their son Joshua died at 29 years old.

On October 30, 1670, Sarah died, leaving Roger a widow after 41 years of marriage. Sarah was 72 and Roger 78. He lived for another nine years, passing away on the 19th of November, 1679 at the age of 87. Their gravesites are unknown, though there is speculation that Roger is buried in The Burying Point Cemetery in Salem.

A statue of Roger Conant, founding father of Salem, stands in front of the Salem Witch Museum. Because of the cloak he is wearing and the pointy hat of the time, many people mistake the statue for a famous warlock.

Riff Niziolek with the statue of his 9th great-grandfather, Roger Conant

Roger Conant’s Will:

In his will, dated 1 March 1677, and proved 25 November 1679,”Roger Conant aged about eighty-five years … though weak & feeble in body” bequeathed to “my son Exercise” one hundred and forty acres near Dunstable (a part of two hundred acres granted by the General Court ),also ten acres adjoining his present home lot, also two acres of marsh at the south end of Wenham’s great pond “or if my daughter Elizabeth Conant will exchange to have so much at the great marsh near Wenham, “also my swamp at the head of the rails which is yet undivided, also my portion of land lying by Henry Haggat’s on Wenham side, from which land he is to pay £7 toward the discharge of my legacies; to “my grandchild John Conant, son of Roger Conant,” ten acres adjoining his twenty acres by the great pond, he to pay £20 toward the discharge of my legacies; to “my grandchild Joshua Conant” seventeen acres by the south side of the great marsh “and the rest to return to my executor”; to “my daughter Sarah” to her and her children, two acres between the head of the rails and Isaac Hull; to “a daughter of one Mrs. Pitts deceased … now living in Culleton a town in Devon in old England “into the hands of Capt. Roger Clap of the Castle near Dorchester as attorney for Mrs. Pitts “for certain goods sold for the said Mrs. Pitts in London and was there to be paid many years since but it is alleged was never paid”; to “my son Lott his ten children” £20 to be equally divided; to “my daughter Sarah’s children, to John £5, to the four daughters” £5 between them”; to “my daughter Mary Dodge to herself £5 and £5 to her five children equally divided”; to “Exercise his children” £4 between them; to “Adoniron Veren” £3, “to his sister Hannah” 20s. and “her two children each 10s.”; to “my cousin Mary Veren wife to Hillier Veren” £3; to “the daughters of my cousin Jane Mason deceased” £3 “including Love Steevens her child a share”; to “my son Exercise” residue of moveable goods and “my gray horse and cattle”; to “Rebacka Connant my grandchild” my sheep; to “Mary Leach “one sheep; “and whereas there remains in my hands a certain portion of cattle belonging unto one Mr. Dudeny in England and by him assigned unto his nephew Richard Conant valued at £25 and now left in the hands of my son Exercise Conant that there be a rendering up of such cattle or their valuation … unto the said Richard Conant upon seasonable demand”; “son Exercise” executor; “my son William Dodge and my grandchild John Conant Senior” overseers [EPR 3:335-37]. The inventory of the estate of “Roger Conant deceased” was taken 24November 1679 and totaled £258 10s. of which £198 was real estate: “two hundred acres of land lying at Dunstable, not improved,” £60;”more land sold to Elizabeth Conant not paid for,” £40; “more land ten acres and more ten acres [totaling] 20,” £20; “more land 23 acres,”£59; “more two acres of meadow,” £10; “swampy land [at] 20s. two acres of land [at] £5,” £6; and “more land,” £1

(Roger and Sarah are my husband, Riff’s 9th great-grandparents)

Ida June Goodsell Hescock

Ida June and her twin sister Ada May were born in August of 1867 in Nelson Township, Portage county, in northeastern Ohio. The girls parents were Irad Goodsell and Permelia A. (Ingram-Linton) Goodsell. They joined a sixteen-year-old half-brother, Joseph Goodsell, and a eight-year-old half-sister, Anna Linton.

This building was built in the 1850’s and was a private high school, the Nelson Academy. It would have been a common site for Ida and her family.

In the 1870 federal census, Ida’s father was listed as a farmer with his eighteen-year-old son and his fifty-nine-year-old brother both working for him as farm laborers. Ida and her sister Ada were only two years old.

When the census taker next came around, on June 17th, 1880, Ida and Ada were twelve. Ida was at school, but her sister was at home. That could simply mean that Ada took the day off from school for some reason and Ida did not. Their mom, Permelia, was keeping house and their sister Anna was working as a milliner, or hat maker. Father Irad was still farming but now he is listed as having paralysis. He was 59 years old, so perhaps he had suffered a stroke. A hired man, a farm laborer, 19 year old Eli Overly, was also living with the family.

Ten years later Ida married Ward Beacher Hescock right there in Nelson. Ward had also been born and raised in Nelson, so the two probably knew each other their entire lives. The couple married on the 4th of July, 1890. Ward had just turned twenty-three and Ida would be twenty-three the following month.

Their first child, a son, was born on October 10th, 1891 but it was a terribly sad day, as the baby boy, Irad Austin Hescock, died the day he was born.

More children were to come and the couple welcomed a healthy daughter, Anna May, on December 20th, 1892. Adah Gertrude was born on September 16th, 1985, and Mildred E. followed on November 25th, 1899. All four children were born right there in Nelson Township.

It was June 6th, 1900 and time for another federal census. The Hescock family was found living on the Goodsell farm with Ida’s father, Irad, who was now 80 years old. Ward was farming with his father-in-law. The entire family can read and write. Not only do they have a farmhand living with them, a young man by the name of Winfield Hankin, but they also are employing a young woman by the name of Mabell Hopkins.

Sometime within the next two years, the Hescock family picked up stakes and moved to the west. They were living in Dixie, Walla Walla county, Washington when Ida passed away at the young age of thirty-four. I wish that I knew more about why she died so young.

Ida is buried in the Dayton City Cemetery in Dayton, Washington in Columbia county. It is evident that Ida and Ward never forgot their firstborn child who they lost at childbirth as Ida’s headstone also has a plaque remembering the couple’s baby son, Irad Austin.

(Ida June Goodsell is my 2nd great-grandmother on my dad’s side of the family.)

Lot and Elizabeth (Walton) Conant

It was a cold and rainy Tuesday when Lot Conant was born…. Okay. Maybe it wasn’t. I don’t really know. He was born about 1624 near Cape Ann, Massachusetts to Roger and Sarah (Horton) Conant. He was the fourth of ten children. Lot’s parents and older siblings had recently arrived in the New World from England. He was the first of their children to be born in Massachusetts.

In 1626, when little Lot was just two years old, his father founded the town of Salem and was named the first governor of Massachusetts. He only held onto the title for two short years, but that is a story for another day. Just suffice it to say that Lot grew up in a family of forward thinkers and a father who was very involved in his community and his church.

When Lot was 25 years old, he married Elizabeth Walton on the 9th of January, 1649 in Salem, Massachusetts. Elizabeth was 19 and the daughter of Reverend William Walton and Elizabeth (Cooke) Walton. Elizabeth was born on October 9th, 1629 (it definitely could have been a cold and rainy day!) in Seaton, Devonshire, England. When she was five years old, the family set sail on the Hopewell as part of what is known as the “Great Migration.” The Walton family first lived in Hingham, Massachusetts before relocating to Marblehead.

With Lot and Elizabeth’s marriage, the couple settled in Marblehead where Lot eventually owned several pieces of property. Lot was listed as a “Yeoman” in land records, or a farmer in today’s terms. On the 28th of July, 1650, the couple welcomed their first child, a son named Nathaniel. He was the first of ten children. Soon following were – Jonathon, Lot, Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Sarah, William, Roger, and Rebecca. Sarah and William were twins. Interesting enough, not only did all ten children live to adulthood, they all lived to be quite elderly by the standards at the time. The youngest to die was in their seventies and most of the kids lived to be in their late eighties.

In 1662, Lot was elected as a Selectman in Marblehead, following in his father’s political footsteps. He was still a farmer and some have guessed that Lot was also a shoemaker. That supposition comes from the fact that in his will he left his shop and tools to his son Nathanial, whom we know WAS a shoemaker. It stands to reason, because we also know that many of his descendants were tailors by trade.

In 1666, we believe that Lot and Elizabeth moved their family to Beverly, Massachusetts. It is known that Lot’s father, Roger, gave him his homestead at Beverly containing over 100 acres. Some of that was town property and some out of town. On the same day, Lot signed a lease back to his father for the house and three acres. He charged his dad an annual rent of one ear of Indian corn. That’s a pretty good deal!

The following year, in July of 1667, Lot transferred his membership from the First Church in Salem to the new church in Bass River, (as Beverly was known at the time.) It is noted that both Lot and his father were founding members of the new church.

Between March 1670 and March 1671, Lot sold some of his Marblehead properties. On a list of Marblehead householders dated May of 1674, Lot is still listed, so he must have retained at least one of his properties there, though by all accounts, the families primary residence had moved to Beverly.

In March of 1672, he was fined 4 shillings for attacking a man named Matthew Fairfield. I would love to know what that was about!

When Lot was fifty years old, he fell ill. On September 24, 1674, he wrote his last will and testament stating, “I, Lot Conant, aged about fiftie yeers being sicke and weak…” He passed away just five short days later on September 29, 1674 in Beverly. His burial place is unknown. (His last will and testament is listed below.)

Elizabeth was 44 when Lot died, leaving her a widow. In 1678, the Conants second son, Jonathon, married Bethiah Mansfield. Elizabeth soon made that family connection even stronger by marrying Bethiah’s widowed father, Andrew Mansfield, on January 10, 1681 in Salem. Elizabeth was 51 years old.

I haven’t found much about Elizabeth and Andrew’s life together, but unfortunately it didn’t last long. Andrew passed away on November 27, 1683, leaving Elizabeth a widow for the second time when she was 54 years of age.

The paper trail that I was able to find online ends here. I haven’t yet located a death date or a burial place for Elizabeth. In Lot’s will, he left the house to her to live out her days. Starting with Roger and his wife, there are several generations of the Conant family that their burial place is unknown. I suspect that Elizabeth and Andrew stayed on the Beverly homestead and that somewhere on the land where the Conant family lived for so many years is a family cemetery.

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Lot Conant’s Last Will and Testament

I, Lot Conant aged about fiftie yeers being sicke and weak, yet of p’fit understanding doe hereby declare my last will and testament wherein in the first place I doe bequeath my soule unto god that gave it, and my body to the grave in hope of a blessed reserrection: and for my outward estate and goods I doe bequeath and give unto my five sonns to each of them fiftie pounds and unto my son nathaniel the shop and tools over & above the rest, and unto my five daughters twenty pounds to each of them and this estate I leave to be whole and unbroken till they come to full age or to marriage estate and in the meane time the whole to rest in the hands of my wife, and for the bringing up of the children and further more my will is that my wife be executrix and that the land be not at all disposed off
from the children and that my wife have the dwelling house and orchard for her life time. and also that my kins woman mari Leach have a cow or heifer at her beig married or going from my wife. And for help unto my wife in this matter I doe instruct and designe mr. John Hale, Captaine Lathrop and my brother Exercise Conant to be assisting. Hereunto I have subscribed my hand this 24 of the 7 month 1674. Witness Roger Conant Signed Lot Conant Exercise Conant Sworn 26:9 mo:1674 Inventory totalled 782.04.00 including “a shop where Nathan Conant works 5.00.0”


(Lot and Elizabeth are my husband Riff’s 8x great-grandparents.)