William David Kennison

William David Kennison abt 1918

William David Kennison was born on July 9th, 1899 to Samual Peter and Rachel “Sophia” (Roddy) Kennison in Garden City, Kansas.  When Will was only eight, his mother passed away in Larned, Kansas.  In 1910, Will was living with his father and little brother, Harry, in a boarding house in Fort Wayne, Indiana where Samual was working as a street car conductor.

I believe this picture was taken about 1918,when Will would have been just 18 years old.  I haven’t been able to verify if Will was in WWI but it seems possible, and I have heard that he served in France.  In 1920, he married a woman named Laurena Florentia Archambault in New York.  On the marriage certificate, Will was listed as a soldier with his residence listed as Plattsburg Barracks in New York.  There is a bit of discrepancy here, as it has Will listed as 26 years old, when in fact he was only 20.  Laurena is listed as 27 and was a divorcee.   I wonder, had Will joined the service early and lied about his age to get in?  Or had he embellished his age to seem older to Laurena?

Just two short years later, Will was working as a fireman with the Union Pacific Railroad.  He died from asphyxiation when a coal burning engine that he was working on got stuck inside the Aspen Tunnel in Wyoming.

William David Kennison Headstone

William David Kennison is buried in the Evanston City Cemetery in Evanston, Wyoming.

Will’s wife Laurena herself is a mystery to our family.  Will’s brother, Harry, was my great grandfather, the father of my grandmother Shirley Marcilee Kennison Sannar.  Grandma had a sister whom I knew as Aunt Laurena, obviously named after the first Laurena, but the fact that there even was a first Laurena is news to my family.   Her grandson, Robert Lewis, contacted me through ancestry.com, and he is where I have gotten all of my information.  Our family must have been in contact with her for some years, as Bob had pictures of some of our family members from the 1940’s and 1950’s.

In the next few days, I will be contacting my great Uncle Harry to find out if he knows any more about this couple.  He is the only one left who might have some knowledge about Will and Laurena.  I’ll update this story with anything that he has to tell me.  Stay tuned!

(Will is my 2nd great uncle.  He is the brother of Harry Alvin Kennison. )

William David Kennison Line

A Legacy of Strength – Shirley Marcilee (Kennison) Sannar

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Grandma may be gone here on earth but when I think about her she is still on the Alaskan waters, in the galley of a small troller, The smell of coffee, the sound of rubber on the bottom of the cups and her laugh.
These words were “borrowed” from my cousin, Rodney. I will always remember Grandma in the kitchen making hot cocoa for us little ones and will forever hear her voice singing hymns at church on Sunday mornings.  Shirley Marcilee Kennison Sannar passed away March 3rd, 2011 leaving all who loved her with many happy memories.

Grandma was born July 4th of 1923 in the Wallowa Valley of northeastern Oregon.  She was the oldest of three children and had to grow up fast when her dad passed away when Grandma was only eleven.  After being the one sent, in the middle of the night, to fetch the doctor, Grandma spent the next years helping her Mom raise her younger brother and sister.

My grandparents met at a dance where Grandpa was to shy to approach the pretty girl, but instead asked a friend to ask her out for him.  Six months later, Toot and Shirley drove to Walla Walla, Washington to be married.  Grandpa says it was the hottest day of the year and his wedding outfit was a $5.00 wool suit that he had saved up to buy.   Back in Wallowa County, the happy couple moved in with Grandma’s mom for a few months.  Their first house together was a wall tent with a wooden floor.  Can you imagine?  A wall tent?  And in the bitter cold winters of Wallowa County?  My grandparents were strong, stubborn people their entire lives.

For the next few years, Grandma and Grandpa started a family, welcoming my Dad and Aunt Judy.   Work was scarce during the war and Grandpa worked all kinds of odd jobs.  Towards the end of the war he was drafted and served as a soldier oversea’s.  Once back in the states, Grandma and Grandpa moved to the logging camp of Starkey where Grandpa worked as a mechanic and my Aunt Kathleen joined the family.

Early in their marriage, my Grandma had told Grandpa that her job was to be his wife and the mother of his children.  That wherever he went, she would go.  So when Grandpa’s brother-in-law called from Alaska, telling him mechanics were needed, off they went.  Grandma made her new home in Ketchikan without a backwards glance.  Even though she was deathly afraid of the water, when Grandpa decided to buy a commercial fishing boat and make a living from the sea, Grandma tugged on her boots, pulled on her rain slicker and became the Skipper of that fishing boat.  For years, they trolled the Alaskan waters, making a good living and storing away many memories and stories to share with friends and family.

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When retirement time rolled around, Grandma and Grandpa moved back to Oregon but still craved adventure, so they packed up their motor home and headed to the desert every winter until just the last two when Grandma was having blood pressure issue’s and problems with her hip.  Even then, they kept the motor home and refused to park it at families, instead enjoying their time in an RV park with other year round residents.  Strong and stubborn.

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Grandma was a wonder in the kitchen.  I can still taste her delicious mincemeat pies from my childhood.  She loved to quilt and made beautiful handstitched quilts for each and everyone of us grandkids and even a few of the great-grands.  Grandma and Grandpa had a large garden every year, growing and canning their produce right up into their late 70’s.  We celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with a camping trip and family picnic in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.

My family is full of strong women and Grandma was always right at the head of that line.  Such a wonderful legacy of strength and love she has left for her family.
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Pictured:  Front row – Shirley Sannar, Charles “Al” or “Toot” Sannar  – Back row – Paula Sannar Niziolek, Brittany Niziolek Sumpter, Noah Sumpter, Tom Sannar

(Shirley is my paternal grandmother. She is the mother of Thomas Alvin Sannar.)

“A favorite memory of my Grandma Sannar takes place in her kitchen.  Grandma is standing at her stove.  She has a wooden spoon in her hand and is using it to stir a steaming stainless steel pot full of hot cocoa.  My siblings, cousins and I are sitting around the table, expectantly waiting for Grandma to place those warm mugs of cocoa in front of us.  There is some chatter going on around me, but I’m a little tyke, only about four years of age and it has been a long day.  My family and I have just arrived in Alaska this evening after a long drive from Oregon through Canada and then a ferry ride from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan.  Even in memory I can still feel the foggy tiredness that is making my eyes droop and my families voices seem a bit far away. Grandma sets my brown cup in front of me and I take a sip.  Heavenly chocolate sweetness fills my mouth and the warmness seeps into my soul.  As I am tucked into my bed and snuggle down with my favorite blanket and soft pink cat, I know beyond any doubt that I am loved.  Sometimes hot cocoa can do that.” ~ Paula Sannar Niziolek
“I remember as a young girl riding to Ketchikan with my Grandma Sannar in her Volkswagen Bug. I gazed out the window seeing the rocks, trees & vegetation of a beautiful rain forest as her little car sped along. It was a rare sunny day. Up ahead we could glimpse the sparkling blue ocean peaking through majestic cedar trees.
Parking along Main Street we walked up the gray concrete sidewalk into Rex-Drug store filled with bright, colorful treasures. Each of us children got to choose chocolate or vanilla for our ice-cream cone. So sweet & delicious was this tasty treat!” ~ Stacey Sannar Roth

Samual Peter Kennison

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Samual Peter Kennison was born December 11th, 1863 in Scotch Grove, Iowa to David and Emily Kennison.

In 1898, Samual served in the Spanish-American war. He was in Company K, 2nd US Volunteer Calvary Division.

He married Rachel Sophia Roddy in 1899 when he was 36 years old. That same year, their first son William David was born.  They lived in Garden City, Kansas in 1900. Samual was listed as a farmer on the 1900 census.  In 1903, their son Harry Alvin was born in Cushi0n, Oklahoma.  In July of 1907 Samual become a widower when Rachel passed away in Larned, Kansas. They had been married only 8 short years.

In October of 1907, Samual married Lena Stambaugh. I can’t decide what happened here.  A divorce maybe?  Or did Samual leave and marry someone else?  Lena is definitely still alive on the 1910 census, living by herself and listed as the head of household.  She was a dressmaker.

On the 1910 census, Samual and his two boys were living in a boarding house in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Samual was working as a street car conductor. Sometime during that year, 1910, Samual married again.  His new wife’s name was Florence. Lena is still very much alive. Hmmmm…..

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In 1922, Samual lost his son William David.  Will was only 22 years old, had already fought in France, but died working for the Pacific Railroad when the engine he was on got stuck in a tunnel near Unita, Wyoming.  Will died from gas poisoning.

Samual passed away on February 10th, 1930 at the age of 66.  He is buried in the Vancouver Barracks Cemetery in Vancouver, Washington.

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(Samual was my 2nd great-grandfather.  He is the father of Harry Alvin Kennison.)