102 Years Ago Today

On June 6, 1911, one hundred and two years ago today, Mary Melinda (Everett) Leishman (1845-1911), my 3rd great grandmother, died in Alliance, Box Butte Co., Nebraska. Following her death, Mary was buried in Alliance Cemetery in Alliance, Box Butte Co., Nebraska next to her husband who died eleven years earlier.

Robert & Mary Leishman Headstone
Robert & Mary Leishman Headstone

Mary was born in 1845 in Salineville, Columbiana Co., Ohio the daughter of Isaac Everett (1778-1856) and Margaret Stewart (1801-1866). In 1872, Mary married Robert Leishman (1847-1900), a Scottish émigré originally from New Monkland, Lanarkshire, Scotland. With Robert, Mary had four children: Anna Margaret (my 2nd great grandmother), Norman, Clarence, and Alvin. Mary and Robert left Ohio for Nebraska in the late 1870s, living first in Wheeler Co., Nebraska and then Box Butte Co., Nebraska after 1880.

Mary (Everett) Leishman with her Children (Back Row L-R: Anna Margaret and Mary; Front Row L-R: Norman, Clarence, and Alvin)
Mary (Everett) Leishman with her Children (Back Row L-R: Anna Margaret and Mary; Front Row L-R: Norman, Clarence, and Alvin)

Fearless Females Challenge: March 25 – Women and Children

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month. (Note: Because I started this challenge late, I will be continuing it beyond March 31.)

Prompt for March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

In general, my female ancestors for whom I know how they interacted with their children did so in more of a loving or supportive way, than as disciplinarians–a role that was usually held by my male ancestors. However, my female ancestors could certainly fill the role of disciplinarian if they had to.

My paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), was not usually the disciplinarian, but certainly did not look the other way when her children (or grandchildren) did or said something she did not approve of. She was more subtle in her disapproval, however. More often than not, she turned to her husband to handle disciplining anyone who required it. From what I understand about her grandmother (my 2nd great grandmother), Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham (1875-1951), she was both loving and supportive, but as a deeply religious person whose husband was frequently away working, did not spoil her children by sparing the rod.

Horace & Anna Margaret Lapham Family: (Front Row) Nellie, holding her son James, Anna Margaret, Theodore, and Peggy. (Back Row) Wilbur, Charles, and Orville.
Horace & Anna Margaret Lapham Family: (Front Row) Nellie, holding her son James, Anna Margaret, Theodore, and Peggy. (Back Row) Wilbur, Charles, and Orville.

My maternal great grandmother, Irene Vera (Balla) Sebok (1913-2006) would discipline her children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren if they did something she did not approve of, but she was also loving and supportive as well. I am told that her mother, Julia (Molnar) Balla (1885-1962), could be the typical sweet, loving and supportive mother and grandmother, but could also be a disciplinarian, so much so that her children and grandchildren knew not to act up around her.

Julia (Molnar) Balla with Grandson, Paul.
Julia (Molnar) Balla with Grandson, Paul.

From what I understand about my other maternal great grandmother, Goldia “Goldie” Mae (Worthington) Hamilton (1912-2006), she was almost always loving and supportive, as her husband always filled the role of disciplinarian. The image of Goldie that I have always been left with regarding her relationship with her children (with respect to discipline) was that she was a lot like Jane Darwell‘s role as Ma Joad in the film adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, loving and supportive even (perhaps) to a fault.

Harry (far left) & Goldie (far right) Hamilton with Relatives. Goldie is holding a young girl, possibly a niece.
Harry (far left) & Goldie (far right) Hamilton with Relatives. Goldie is holding a young girl, possibly a niece.

Fearless Females Challenge: March 18 – Shining Star

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month. (Note: Because I started this challenge late, I will be continuing it beyond March 31.)

Prompt for March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

Although I have not yet found any female ancestor who was famous for her talents, I do have many women in my ancestry that were talented. Many of my female ancestors were very talented cooks, with many of their recipes being handed down for generations. This is particularly true for my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. My maternal grandmother, Alberta (Sebok) Hamilton (LIVING), her mother, Irene (Balla) Sebok (1913-2006), and her mother, Julia (Molnar) Balla (1885-1962) were all accomplished cooks, making all kinds of Hungarian dishes and desserts. This seems to have run in the family, given the fact that Julia’s sister, Elizabeth, was a professional chief in New York.

In addition to cooking, I have some female ancestors with artistic leanings. My paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), was a talented artist. She enjoyed painting, particularly murals. In my grandparents home in California before they sold it, there was a large willow tree mural my grandmother painted. Sadly, no photos appear to exist of this. She also enjoyed drawing. I recall my father telling me that she drew portraits of several members of her family, including her mother. Additionally, several female ancestors were also talented in knitting, crocheting, and quilt/afghan making. My maternal great grandmother, Irene (Balla) Sebok (1913-2006), made many doilies, quilts or afghans, and other items. I have a few of them, including a pillow she made me.

I am not certain how many female ancestors in my ancestry were musically talented, but I do have at least one. My 2nd great grandmother, Lois Beatrice (Agee) Wellin (1897-1983), was talented at playing the piano, particularly the organ. She enjoyed playing for her family and guests at parties at their home in Portland, Oregon. I am told she loved to play songs like “Alley Cat” during these parties. 🙂

Although I already mentioned it in a previous post in this challenge, another talent of a female ancestor I uncovered is writing poetry. My 2nd great grandmother, Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham (1875-1951), wrote numerous Christian themed poems.

Fearless Females Challenge: March 16 – Let’s Do Lunch!

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.

Prompt for March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

For me, this challenge is a difficult one because I think that I would not mind having lunch with each of my female ancestors, if I could. I can only imagine the information and stories that they could share. However, I suppose I could answer this prompt in one of two ways.

First of all, I think I would like to have lunch with my female ancestors that passed away in my lifetime. This would particularly include my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-), and my great grandmothers, Maxine Elizabeth (Davis-Kernan) Smith (1912-1992), Pauline Katherine (Rains-Rowlands) Kernan (1913-1997), Alice Lucretia (Wellin-Lapham) Graber (1916-1985), Goldia “Goldie” Mae (Worthington) Hamilton (1912-2006), Irene Vera (Balla) Sebok (1913-2006). This luncheon would also include my only 2nd great grandmother that passed away in my lifetime, Lois Beatrice (Agee) Wellin (1897-1983).

An alternative luncheon would involve my immigrant female ancestors from my Kernan, Lapham, Hamilton, and Sebok lines, or the earliest known female I have in those lines if the immigrant ancestor is unknown. This would include Martha Rose (Sheridan) Kiernan (1797-?), Mary (Mann) Lapham (1640-1712), Jennie M. (Lightcap) Heldman (1872-1905), and Roza Mari (Peto) Sebok (1871-1937). It might also include other female immigrant/earliest ancestors, such as Anna Eliza (Backer-Stearns) Tice (1854-1919), Rebecca (Gibson) Stearns (1635-1698), Sarah (Spinney) Davis (1746-?), Mary Ann (Wys) Beeney (ca. 1784-1857), Ann (Forsyth) Leishman (1828-1896), Anna Elizabeth (Stålberg) Lowenburg (1869-1918), Anna Elizabeth (UNKNOWN) Lightcap (?-?), Alice (Taylor) Worthington (1662-1729), Elizabeth (Grant) Gifford (1615-1683), Eszter (Szabó) Balla (1857-1925), and Julia (Molnar) Balla (1885-1962).

In either set up, I don’t think we would go anywhere in particular. I think it would be at my parent’s home. I would want each of them to prepare their signature dish (the women in my family all love to cook); and we would have a party-type luncheon similar to the Christmas parties my grandmother had when I was a kid. Lots of food and lots of talking. I think that would be the ideal luncheon for me with any of my female ancestors.

Fearless Females Challenge: March 13 – Moment of Strength

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.

Prompt for March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

While researching my family history, I uncovered several instances in which female ancestors showed (or must have showed) courage or strength in a difficult situation. There are a couple of instances in which husbands either died or abandoned their wives, leaving them to take care of their children in times in which it was very difficult for a woman to earn a living on their own.

When I think of these situations, I am reminded of the story when my 5th great grandfather, William Leishman (1825-1901), left (possibly abandoned) his wife, Ann (Forsyth) Leishman (1828-1896), in about 1878, about eight years after their arrival in the United States from Scotland. Few details have been uncovered about their apparent separation, though neither filed for divorce or remarried; and both either referred to themselves as still being married or widowed on census records after 1878. With several of her children still under her care, Ann didn’t let the end of a thirty-two year marriage slow her down. She left Ohio by train and arrived in Nebraska, settling first in Boone County. In 1885, Ann received her certificate of U.S. Citizenship in Antelope Co., Nebraska, after which she and her children moved to what is now Box Butte Co., Nebraska. As a citizen, she was now eligible to apply for a homestead, and in that same year she received a patent for 160 acres of land. The farm remained in the family until 1945.

Family of William and Ann Forsyth. Ann is pictured front row far right holding a baby
Family of William and Ann Forsyth. Ann is pictured front row far right holding a baby

A more recent difficult situation in which a female ancestor of mine showed courage or strength was when my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), learned that she had inoperable colon cancer. Although she was in pain, she showed so much strength and courage through it all, even encouraging others (such as her husband and children) who were so upset over the news.

Margaret Kernan
Margaret (Lapham) Kernan

Fearless Females Challenge: March 10 – Religion

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.

Prompt for March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

Religion has often played a very large role in the lives of my ancestors. Several branches in my family tree faced persecution and left their native homelands because of their religion, which of course included female ancestors. Early ancestors in my Lapham branch were Quakers, as were early ancestors in my Worthington (which married into my Hamilton branch). Early ancestors in my Stearns branch (which married into my Kernan branch) were Puritans. Early ancestors in my Agee branch were Huguenots. Also, early ancestors in my Graber branch were Mennonites.

The role of religion in my more recent ancestors (include my female ancestors) had varying degrees of importance. My paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), was a devout Catholic. My maternal grandmother, Alberta (Sebok) Hamilton (LIVING), was raised in Protestant churches, particularly the Pentecostal Church. As for my great grandparents, I am less certain what role played in their lives. From what I have uncovered on this topic, it appears that religion didn’t play a major role. This, of course, is not to say that they didn’t believe in God or attend any religious services.

My paternal great grandmother, Maxine Elizabeth (Davis-Kernan) Smith (1912-1992), appears to have been raised in a Baptist home, but her first husband, Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979), was raised in a Catholic home. It is unclear, however, if Maxine (or Delmar) ever really participated in either of these. The same is true of my paternal step-great grandmother, Pauline Katherine (Rains-Rowlands) Kernan (1913-1997), who was Delmar’s second wife. My other paternal great grandmother, Alice Lucretia (Wellin-Lapham) Graber (1916-1985), was raised, it seems, in a Baptist home, but married her second husband, Willard Pershing Graber (1918-1989), in a Methodist church. Her first husband, Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955), was raised a Seventh-Day Adventist, though it is unclear if Alice (or Theodore) ever participated in this church.

My maternal great grandmother, Goldia “Goldie” Mae (Worthington) Hamilton (1912-2006), and her husband, Harry Carl Hamilton (1891-1960), do not appear to have been involved in any particular church, though they were (according to oral history) Methodists. My other maternal great grandmother, Irene Vera (Balla) Sebok (1913-2006), grew up in a Protestant home that attended Baptist, Presbyterian, and Pentecostal churches. Her husband, Albert Sebok (1903-1968), grew up in the Hungarian Reformed Church, but appears to have attended Pentecostal church when they went to church. Later in her life, she briefly consulted with members of the Christian Science church, but never converted or attended their services.

As for serving their church in some capacity, the closest any of my female ancestors comes is the involvement of my 2nd great grandmother Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham (1875-1951), who often went by Annie or Margaret, in the Seventh-Day Adventist church. Even at a young age, faith was important to her. As a biographical sketch in a funeral booklet states, “at the age of 14 years, she was converted and joined the United Presbyterian Church,” like her parents. However, “about four years later, she overheard a strange man make the remark that ‘You can’t find between the two lids of the Bible that the Sabbath has ever been changed.’ That deeply impressed her as she had been taught that it was changed when Christ rose. So she went to her Mother and asked where to find it in the Bible, and her Mother said, ‘I don’t know, but it’s in there somewhere.’ She said, ‘Well, I’m going to find it.’ She had a reference Bible with a brief concordance. She started her search, which lasted for months. She didn’t know there was such a thing as a Seventh Day Adventist Church, or any one who kept the seventh day. Her folks didn’t hinder her, neither did they help her. She studied it out alone with God’s help. Not that she wanted to keep the seventh day, but she wanted to know where the Bible said it has been changed, but finally decided that whoever made the change, it wasn’t God. And in order to be a Christian, she must obey God. So she told her folks that she couldn’t help what they did, but she was going to keep the Sabbath; she didn’t know the that she would ever have any one to keep it with her; she started keeping it alone, but when her folks saw how very much in earnest she was, they decided to keep it with her. One day her Father met the man in a store that made the remark, and found that he was a Sabbath keeper, and had a wife and five children and there was a woman and two children in town. So they all got together and organized a Sabbath School. That was indeed a happy day for [Annie], and she was always glad for the experience of studying it out for herself, and always thanked God for revealing it to her.”

Margaret Lapham
Margaret Lapham

Anna Margaret was an active member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church for most of her life, in Nebraska, Oregon, and Idaho. Some of her involvement included reciting or other ways sharing her Christian poems. A number of the poems in her Courage and Comfort (a collection of ninety poems she wrote in the 1940s), were published in “Gems of Faith” by the evangelist R.H. Nightingale, in “Quiet Hour Echoes” by the evangelist J.L. Tucker 1943, or in “Gleaner,” which appear to have been church newsletters or magazines. Some of these poems were also recited or broadcast by evangelists J.L. Tucker and R.H. Nightingale many times at church gatherings or over the radio.

The following is a page from Anna Margaret’s Courage and Comfort featuring a poem called “By Faith” that is noted to have “broadcasted by Evangelist J. L. Tucker.”

"By Faith," a Poem from Courage and Comfort by Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham
“By Faith,” a Poem from Courage and Comfort by Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham

185 Years Ago Today

On March 15, 1828, one hundred and eighty-five years ago today, Ann (Forsyth) Leishman (1828-1896), my 4th great grandmother, was born in Shotts, Shotts, Lanarkshire, Scotland the daughter of William Forsyth (1785-1856) and Margaret Marshall (1794-1866).

Family of William Leishman and Ann Forsyth. Ann is pictured front row far right holding a baby
Family of William Leishman and Ann Forsyth. Ann is pictured front row far right holding a baby

Ann was the wife of William Leishman (1825-1901), whom she married in 1846 and with whom she had fourteen children. Ann, William, and their children immigrated to the United States in 1870. Ann is the grandmother of Anna Margaret Leishman (1875-1951), who married Horace Iriving Lapham (1869-1927), the father of Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955), who was the father of my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004).

Source: “Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950,” Family Search.

Holiday Family History: My 2nd Great Grandmother’s First Christmas Tree

Newspaper article describing the first Christmas tree my 2nd Great Grandmother had as a little girl.
Newspaper article describing the first Christmas tree my 2nd Great Grandmother had as a little girl.

Although I have a few holiday family history stories for Christmas, one has quickly become my favorite. The story involves my 2nd Great Grandmother, Anna Margaret “Maggie” (Leishman) Lapham (1875-1951), who wrote a letter to one of her nephews recalling her first Christmas Tree when she as about seven years old (so in about 1882) in pioneer Nebraska. Her nephew sent in the story and it was published in a local newspaper, the Wheeler County Independent.

The following is a transcription of the story from the article:

“It was when I was seven. We lived in Wheeler County then. The snow was about knee deep. I don’t know where I got the idea, if I heard someone talking about it, or if I saw a picture, but I had made up my mind that I was going to have a Christmas tree. Of course, there were no trees around there, but Christmas morning I bundled up and got the hatchet. Mother said, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘To find a Christmas tree.’ They laughed but let me go. I waded around in the snow until I found a nice big wild sunflower, one with lots of branches. I pulled the dead blossoms off and dug the snow away, chopped it down, and dragged it to the house. Mother wasn’t going to let me take it in, but father said, ‘Let her alone, let’s see what she has in her head.’ So I took it in, and in some way made it stand up. Then I got my treasure boxes. I always saved every bit of colored paper or tinfoil, and pictures, or cards and pieces of colored yarn. (Father did lots of knitting.) I made chickens, ducks, cats, rabbits, etc. out of pie dough, and baked them hard. I kept them in one box. With the paper and tinfoil, I wrapped the branches, then tied the yarn around the animals, etc., and tied them on the branches, also some pieces of candy, and some little doughnuts that mother had made for us kids, and some popcorn and the picture cards. Your father and uncle stood around and watched me, and made suggestions. They thought it was marvelous. Once in a while, we would stand back and look at it, and decide that something needed changing a little, then I would change it. We played with the thing all day, and I don’t know about the boys, but I got more enjoyment out it than any Christmas tree we ever had before or since. We never had toys or things like that when we were small. If we got an apple or an orange, and few pieces of candy, we were happy.”

I enjoy this story very much. Not only is it a cute story, but it adds a dimension to the life of my 2nd Great Grandmother that would be lost without it. I hope that you enjoy it, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas

61 Years Ago Today

Margaret Lapham

On July 17, 1951, sixty-one years ago today, Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham (1875-1951), my 2nd great grandmother, died in Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai Co., Idaho, USA. She was buried in Forest Cemetery in Coeur d’Alene.

Margaret (she often went by her middle name) was born in Ohio the daughter of Robert Leishman (1847-1900), an émigré from Scotland, and Mary Melinda Everett (1845-1911). She grew up in Nebraska, where she married Horace Iriving Lapham (1869-1927) in 1895. Together, Margaret and Horace had eight children, the youngest of which was my great grandfather, Theodore “Ted” Alexander Lapham (1910-1955).

Faith played an important role in Margaret’s life going back to her teenage years. She was actively involved in the Presbyterian Church until her conversion to Seventh Day Adventist when she was 18 years old, after overhearing and being convinced by a man who said, “You can’t find between the two lids of the Bible that the Sabbath has ever been changed.”

In addition to her active membership and involvement in the church, her spiritual life manifested itself in writing poetry. Between 1940 and 1945, she wrote 90 poems that were published under the title Courage and Comfort. Towards the end of her life, she wrote two more poems that were put together, along with an obituary, in a booklet entitled “Aunt Margaret’s Last Message.” The following are the pages from this later collection:

  

  

The following is a transcription of one the poems, which Margaret titled “Meet Me There”:

On the happy, golden shore, where the faithful part no more,
When the storms of life are o’er, meet me there;
When the night dissolves away, into pure and perfect day,
I am going home to stay, meet me there.

Here our fondest hopes are in vain, dearest links are rent in twain;
But in heav’n no throb of pain, meet me there;
By the river sparkling bright, in the city of delight,
Where our faith is lost in sight, meet me there.

Where the harps of angels ring, and the blest forever sing,
In the palace of the King, meet me there;
Where in sweet communion blend heart with heart and friend with friend,
In a world that ne’er shall end, meet me there.

Meet me there, meet me there,
Where the tree of life is blooming, meet me there,
When the storms of life are o’er,
On the happy, golden shore, where the faithful part no more,
Meet me there.

Margaret was loved deeply by her family, friends, and neighbors. She was memorialized in the following way in her obituary: “her beautiful Christian character, her cheerfulness, even though suffering almost constant pain for many years, and her thoughtfulness of others, will long be remembered by those who loved her, and to know her was to love her.”

Margaret Lapham’s Headstone