112 Years Ago Today

Isaac Agee

On September 7, 1900, one hundred and twelve years ago today, Isaac Agee (1811-1900), my 5th great grandfather, died in Gopher Valley, Yamhill Co., Oregon, USA at the age of 88. He was buried in Agee Cemetery in Yamhill Co., Oregon.

Isaac was born in 1811 in Smith Co., Tennessee the son of Matthew Agee (1787-1856) and Sarah Mary Coats (1792-1836). In 1831, he married Cordelia Thornton (1815-1893) in Callaway Co., Missouri. Following their marriage, Isaac and Cordelia had fourteen children. On April 6, 1852, Isaac, his wife, and children left Missouri for the Oregon Territory, traveling along the Oregon Trail and finally settling on a donation land claim in Yamhill County. In addition to being a farmer in Yamhill, Isaac was also involved in local politics, serving as a delegate and running for county commissioner. At the time of his death, he was, as his obituary notes, “a highly respected citizen.”

Isaac Agee (1811-1900) and Cordelia Thornton (1815-1893) are direct ancestors of Lois Beatrice Agee (1897-1983), my 2nd great grandmother who married Wilhelm Percy Wellin (1895-1977) and was the mother of Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985), who married Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955).

Isaac Agee Headstone (front and side views)

33 Years Ago Today

On September 4, 1979, thirty-three years ago today, Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979), my paternal great grandfather, died in Sherwood, Washington Co., Oregon at the age of 71. Delmar’s funeral was held on September 7, 1979 at St. Francis Catholic Church. He was buried on September 7, 1979 in the Garden of the Last Supper at Skyline Memorial Gardens in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon.


Delmar was born in Portland, Oregon in 1908 the son of George Edward Kernan (1884-1960) and Maudena Elizabeth Stearns (1885-1936). In 1929, he married Maxine Elizabeth Davis (1912-1992), with whom he had two children (Deldalyn and William) before their divorce. In 1950, Delmar married Pauline Katherine (Rains) Rowlands (1913-1997). Before his retirement, Delmar was a salesman of prefab-homes.

154 Years Ago Today

On July 22, 1858, one hundred and fifty-four years ago today, Betsy “Bettie” (Seely) Williams (1858-1947), my 3rd great grandmother, was born in Sparta, Monroe Co., Wisconsin, USA.

Headstone of Bettie (Seely) Williams

Bettie was the daughter of Boyd Ferguson Seely (1835-1909), a Civil War Veteran, and Rebecca Allen (1837-1923). In 1877, she married Patrick H. Williams (1854-1936) in Dunn Co., Wisconsin, USA. Following their marriage, Bettie and Patrick had seven children together, five of which lived to adulthood: George, Lillian, Mary (“Linnie”), Frank, and Leo. At some point between 1887 and 1891, Bettie and Patrick left Wisconsin for Oregon, settling in Portland. By 1900, Bettie and Patrick’s marriage ended in divorce.

By 1920, Bettie and her children founded Williams & Company, which made Williams Saratoga Chips. By the 1940’s, they had locations in Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco. Her two sons, Frank and Leo ran the business, and more so as Bettie got older. The successfulness of the company enabled Bettie to enjoy a more affluent lifestyle than she had, owning homes in Portland and San Francisco. She died in 1947 at the age of 88 in Hillsboro, Washington Co, Oregon, USA.

The following are some photographs, advertisements, and potato chip bag, some with recipes, for Williams Saratoga Chips:


Bettie (Seely) Williams was the mother of Mary Magdelene “Linnie” Williams (1883-1968), who married William Phylitis Davis (1876-1960), my 2nd great grandfather. Linnie and William were the parents of Maxine Elizabeth Davis (1912-1992), who married Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979). Maxine and Delmar were the parents of my paternal grandfather, William G. Kernan (LIVING).

115 Years Ago Today

Lois Wellin (ca. 1960’s)

On June 30, 1897, one hundred and fifteen years ago today, my 2nd great grandmother Lois Beatrice (Agee) Wellin (1897-1983) was born in Wilbur, Douglas Co., Oregon. Lois was the first of four children born to Otto Agee (1868-1904) and Tirzah Stephens (1873-1967).

On December 2, 1914, she married Wilhelm Wellin (1895-1977) in Vancouver, Washington. Together, they had four children, though only three lived to adulthood.

Lois Wellin (ca. 1980’s)

Although I never had the chance to get to know her, I am told by many that she had a bright and happy personality, and a wonderful gift for playing the organ, particularly during family gatherings in Oregon when she would play songs such as “Alley Cat.” Lois passed away in 1983 just before her eight-sixth birthday.

Lois is particularly interesting to me not only because she seems like she was a really fun, full of life person, but because she was born on the same day as me (and my faternal twin brother); and she is one of two 2nd great grandparents and the only 2nd great grandmother that were still alive in my lifetime.

Happy Birthday Great Great Grandma Lois!

60 Years Ago Today

An Article about their Marriage (1952)

Sixty years ago today my paternal grandparents were married. On June 28, 1952, William G. Kernan (LIVING), the son of Delmar Kernan (1908-1979) and Maxine Davis (1912-1992), married Margaret Ann Lapham (1936-2004), the daughter of Theodore Lapham (1910-1955) and Alice Wellin (1916-1985), at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Their wedding was reported in The Milwaukie Review,  a local paper in Oregon. The service was held at St. Peter’s in the company of family and friends, and was officiated by Rev. Patrick J. Dooley. Margaret was given away by Willard Graber, her stepfather. She wore, the article states, “a white slipper satin gown with two panels of lace down the front.” Her bouquet was of white orchids, carried upon a white prayer book. The maid of honor was Gloria (Lapham) Graber, Margaret’s older sister. Her bridesmaids were Deldalyn Kreisman, William’s sister, and Carol Morgan, her cousin. William’s best man was Robert Kreisman, his brother-in-law. The ushers were Donald Rowlands, William’s stepbrother, and Calvin Wellin, Margaret’s uncle.

Group Photo taken at their Wedding, from the newspaper article (1952)

William and Margaret met about two years prior to their marriage, when Margaret was babysitting with one of her cousins, whose boyfriend at the time was a friend of William’s. Soon after, they began dating and eventually realized that they were meant to spend their lives together–it was, as William put it, “love at first sight.”

William and Margaret’s marriage went on to last nearly 52 years, raising five children together.

Remembering Maxine

Maxine’s High School Photo (c 1929)

In addition to my great grandmother Goldie, this year also marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of my paternal great grandmother, Maxine Elizabeth (Davis) Smith (1912-1992). It also marks the 100th anniversary of her adoption, and 20th anniversary of her passing.

Maxine was born on January 25, 1912 in Portland, Oregon the only child of George Beeney (1890-1970) and Gladys Cook (1894-1957). George and Gladys’s marriage was not a happy one and it ended in divorce about a month after Maxine’s birth, with Maxine being put up for adoption. She was adopted by a couple that always wanted a child but up to that point did not have one of their own, William Davis (1876-1960) and his wife Mary “Linnie” Williams (1883-1968). They adopted Maxine on February 29, 1912.

In 1929, Maxine married Delmar C. Kernan (1908-1979) in Portland, Oregon. Together, they had two children, a son named William and a daughter named Deldalyn (or Del for short). Like her biological parents, Maxine and Delmar’s marriage wasn’t a happy one, and it ended in divorce in about 1948. In 1951, she married Oscar Smith (1902-1976), a World War II veteran who had also been previously married. After their marriage, they moved to Vancouver, Washington.

Weathered Copy of “Mr. Fixit’s Column”

Growing up, Maxine didn’t know she was adopted until she came across her adoption papers while helping her mother clean out a closet. Putting it aside in her mind, she didn’t think about it again until she was about 43 years old. Having little else than the name of her parents (George and Gladys Beeney), which William and Linnie told her, Maxine turned to the “Mr. Fixit’s Column” in the Oregon Journal, sending a letter containing what she knew about her biological parents and the circumstances of her adoption, leaving out specific names.

In the letter she stated that she had “wondered about the mother who had given her away, but it was not until she was married and had two babies of her own that she realized what that gift must have cost and wished she might find out who and where the mother was who had  made  such a  sacrifice.” Soon after its appearance in the Oregon Journal, Maxine was notified that her biological mother (Gladys), who was remarried with two children, had responded to the paper, and a meeting between them took place soon afterwards. By all accounts, the meeting was a “joyful reunion.”

Maxine (center), Gladys (right), and Linnie (left)

Wanting to meet her biological father, Maxine took the opportunity to ask questions and learned a few details about him, but Gladys did not keep in touch with him. From that point on, Maxine kept searching for her biological father, but never was able to find him or learn anything about his family. I suppose she didn’t know that he had left Oregon and returned to his home state of Ohio, where he died in 1970. Six years after his death, as irony would have it, she moved with her daughter and her family to Springfield, Ohio, which is about 86 miles away from where George had died and was buried in Newark, Ohio.

Maxine passed away from pneumonia in 1992 in Phoenix, Arizona. She was buried next to Oscar in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.

Happy (belated) 100th Birthday Great Grandma Maxine!

Six Generations of First Daughters (1965)

In 1965 what could be best described as a rare moment occurred in my family, with the taking of a photo that went on to be published in a local news paper in Oregon, USA. The article was entitled “Six Generations of First Daughters,” as the photograph consisted of six generations of women in my family that were first daughters. The following photograph is the one that appeared in this article.

Six Generations of First Daughters

Seated in the front row from left to right are: Crystal (Graber) Friederich, Tirzah (Stephens) Martin, Gloria (Lapham) Graber, who is holding Tracy Friederich. Standing in the back row from left to right is Alice (Wellin) Graber and Lois (Agee) Wellin.

The Six Generations of First Daughters is as follows:

  1. Tirzah Olive (Stephens) Martin (1873-1967), who first married Otto W. Agee (1868-1904) and later John Martin (1865-1931), her third husband. Tirzah and Otto had four children together: Lois, Althea, Clarence, and Leonard.
  2. Lois Beatrice (Agee) Wellin (1897-1983), who married Wilhelm Wellin (1895-1977), a Swidish émigré. Lois and Wilhelm had four children together: Alice, William, Calvin, and Herbert.
  3. Alice Lucretia (Wellin) Graber (1916-1985), who first married Theodore Lapham (1910-1955) and later Willard Graber (1918-1988). Alice and Theodore had three children together: Gloria, Margaret, and Jacqueline.
  4. Gloria Lois (Lapham) Graber (1933-2008), who married Daniel Graber (1930-2009), the nephew of Alice’s second husband. Gloria and Daniel had two children together: Crystal and Steven.
  5. Crystal (Graber) Friederich (1950-2011), who first married Armo Friederich and later Rodney Major. Crystal and Armo had one child together, Tracy.
  6. Tracy Lynn Friederich (LIVING).

I’ve always liked this photo because not only is it unique, but it also shows my great grandmother (Alice), my 2nd great grandmother (Lois), and my 3rd great grandmother (Tirzah) all in one photo.