Sunday, August 20, 2017

Anna Tangen Allen Speaks of Losing Son in Airplane Crash in 1973

Today I was looking through another file folder of letters and came across a Christmas card and letter to my parents from my mother's aunt, Anna Tangen Allen, from December of 1973.  Anna was four years older than her brother Ole Tangen my mother's father.  It was a surprise to me while reading her well-wishes for the Season to hear her first hand account of the death of her son Norman on July 23, 1973. The first section was written on the inside of the card; the second was from an additional note enclosure. Added are links to news articles covering the event.

Dear All,

            Hope 1974 will bring us all good health and happiness.  My best wishes to you and your family for Christmas and the New Year. Thanks for the nice picture you sent last year as I don’t think I have wrote you about it.  I like to hear from you at Christmas time as its like reading a whole paper for the year.  Thanks a lot. I think of you folks often.  I wish you lived closer by us.
*     *    *    *    *     *     *     *     * 
Enclosure ~~
Dear Bernadine, Robert & All,
            Thanks for the card and letter and all the addresses you sent me.  I should have called you folks when Norman was killed in that Plane Crash but it was such a shock to all of us that I couldn’t think of anything so it seems I couldn’t get at writing until just lately.  I sent LaVonne a letter and a clipping out of the paper after Norman’s funeral.  He had a military funeral.  It was so nice.  He had always told Viola, that’s his wife, that’s what he wanted when he died.  He was coming home to celebrate my 88 birthday.  He had planned on that so much as his sister from Utah was here so we all were going to have such a nice visit as we all were going to be here and Artis had spoken for the shelter at the park. So we was going to have supper there.  But he didn’t get here.  Clayton, Maxine, Mildred and some other ones went to the Air Port to meet him as we hadn’t heard anything about the crash.  They told them to go home as the plane was going to be 2 hours late but in the meantime Viola had called here and said she heard  that the plane has crashed but that’s all she knew at that time, so it sure was a shock to all of us.

            Will write you again soon.  I’m sending you a picture of myself.  It was taken awhile ago. (no picture with this card now).
Here is the inside of the card with Aunt Anna's writing and below a photo of her as a child from the family photo.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

WWI Blog Follows 100 Year Old Journey

George Stevens Sherwood
Almost a year ago I came up with the idea for a second blog  that chronicles as much as possible all the postcards and letters of my Uncle George sent home to his family while he was "Somewhere in France" until he came marching home as they say.  He joined the 108th Army Engineers as was part of the American Expeditionary Forces fighting the Germans in the Great War.  The goal is to post them 100 years to the day that he wrote or mailed them.  That blog is dedicated to his experiences in and around that war.  I decided to post part of that information here but to expand some of the family history not elaborated upon there.  A trickle of posts have been done but the wave of missives will begin in earnest in September of this year.  
*     *     *     *     *
George Stevens Sherwood's mother, Ella Jane Richardson Sherwood, had been born Julia Eldora Welch to Mary Elizabeth Richardson and Evi Welch both of Vermont.
Mary Elizabeth Richardson Welch Dexter
Evi died before their daughter was six months old.  Mary Elizabeth later married Martin Dexter and they had five more children two of whom died young (apparently from lung disease - possibly cystic fibrosis). 
Ella Jane Stevens/Julia Eldora Welch was likely taken at the time of her adoption.
Mary Elizabeth's sister, Rosina Jane Richardson (who went by Jane)  and her husband David Eastman Stevens, had no children.  When Julia Eldora was six years old, she was adopted by her aunt and uncle Jane and David.  Her name was changed to Ella Jane Stevens.
 Rosina Jane "Jane" Richardson Stevens
David Eastman Stevens

  Ella Jane Stevens later married William Sherwood and they were the parents of George Stevens Sherwood.   
At the same time that he was considering a future in the Army, George's great uncle Robert Richardson was writing to his sister, George's great aunt Eva (known as Nellie).  Robert and Eva were the only two remaining of 8 siblings, and were the eldest and youngest siblings of Jane, George's late grandmother.
Robert Fletcher Richardson II.  This Robert was not a Jr. because the former Robert Fletcher Richardson was his grandfather.  His father was Robert A Richardson
This is Eva (Nellie) Richardson Thompson with her foster daughter Myrtilla.

Robert had lived his entire life in Vermont. Eva, born and raised in Vermont, married, moved to Minnesota, divorced, remarried, moved to the Dakota territories, took on the foster care of three children,  moved to Washington Territory (Palouse) and lived there until her husband George  Thompson died in 1914.  In 1915 Nellie as she had become known, moved back to Wisconsin to be near her dear niece, Ella Jane, George's mother. 
When I came across this letter today while working on a future WWI post I realized that this letter did claim its place in the posts dedicated to WWI.  Robert, and his wife Rosetta Dexter Richardson (who added a long postscript) were also serving their country in their own way struggling to keep their farm going when all the young men who might  have helped them were going off to war.  I love hearing the voices as their words of 100 years ago are read, knowing that they had weathered the storms of war before and knew of what they spoke. 
1917-0624 – Robert & Rosetta Richardson to Eva (Nellie) Richardson Thompson
Washington, VT, June 24, 1917
Dear Sister Eva[1],
            I realize that I have owed you a letter for a long time but I find but little time for aught else only to do the necessary work on the farm; had had only one days work since last fall.  No help to be hired at any price.
            12 young men from our town have enlisted within a few days, are gone and other are soon to follow.  Charles Henry[2] has enlisted as chemist and mineral expert ready to be called on at any time for government work.  This is a terrible war and peace seems to be a long ways off.  I do not expect to live[3] to see the close of the war, for old people in Vermont are fast passing away. We have had the coldest winter and spring in Vt. that has been known since 1843.  The season is five weeks behind times, a short season unless a late fall.
            Mother and I are fast growing old, cannot expect to stay here much longer.  How are you and do you feel that you are growing old faster than when younger?  Henry’s widow Lilla[4] is expecting to get a pension[5] in a short time. Do you get more favorable news from your pension[6] of late?  Government works slow in all matters of late.  Your birthday is near at hand and hope you will enjoy it and many more.  Please write us often and I will try to answer.     
                                                          With much love,

[1] Eva was the youngest sibling of the Robert and Rosina Richardson children.  Robert F Richardson was the eldest of the 8 children, six of whom reached adulthood. 
[2] His son.
[3] Robert F Richardson did, however, live until 1922.
[4] Lilla M Keyes was the fourth wife of Henry Carlton Richardson, Robert F. Richardson’s brother, who had passed away on August 15, 1915.
[5] Civil War pension as Henry Carlton Richardson was a veteran of that war and had been wounded twice. He enlisted on December 2, 1861 and was discharged on July 17, 1865. 
[6] Eva (Nellie) was the widow of George Thompson who was also a Civil War Veteran.

June 24, 1918
Dear Sister Eva,
            I will try to write a few lines to add to Robert’s letter, he wished me to address his letter to you and I take the liberty to write a few lines.
            If I have not addressed it right please tell me how to address letter to you when you write next time. My memory is getting treacherous and I am forgetting how to spell the words, also how to shape some of the letters.  Do you wonder when you think that I shall be 85 years old if I live to the see the 2nd of next December.  I can hardly realize that Robert and I have lived together 60 years the 9th of this month.
            I have not been very well for more than a year.  I got through the winter alone but I had a neighbor come in and help me one forenoon and two afternoons this spring.  I have done my washings alone thus far but do not think that I can much longer.
            Henry was home for a few days but is now doing geological work in Vt is to return to Syracuse NY to teach a summer school before the college opens in Sept.  I think he is working too hard.
            My brother Avalyn and his wife spent the winter in California, but are now visiting relatives in different states.  He wrote me that he should be here this week.  Walter Burgin has bought my father’s old farm with much other land; he has two boys grown up to help him.
            Brother Lewis spent the winter in Fla for his health.  His trouble is a leakage of one of the arteries of the heart.  I expect him here in a few days.  He does not think he can ever do any more pastoral work. 
                                    Your loving sister, Rosetta
Please kindly remember me to Ella Sherwood.  I should dearly love to step into her home for a few days visit.  It is raining hard here just now. 
*     *     *     *     *

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Terry Hill - October 16, 1956 to January 27, 2017

Terry in October of 1983
Our dear friend, Terry Hill, went home to be with the Lord on January 27, 2017.  This was such a surprise although maybe it shouldn't have been.  Last May she had experienced a double brain aneurysm and had apparently suffered these at home on a Monday afternoon or a Tuesday morning.  She had called in sick on Monday, but not Tuesday, and had not shown up to work.  Coworkers called the police, but due to lack of any probable cause for entering, they had declined to force entry to her condo .When she still hadn't come back to work on Thursday, her very concerned coworkers, this time called the fire department who fortunately thought they might have "heard" something and went in. They found her there and she was taken straight to emergency surgery at Harborview and then to a long recovery. When I first saw her she was quite unresponsive and struggling with what turned out to be pneumonia.  Back in the hospital and as part of that treatment she was given a tracheotomy so that the congestion in her lungs could be suctioned out easily, something she couldn't do with coughing on her own.  Slowly she began to recover and recognized relatives and friends and over time began to greet us with a "hi!" Eventually making amazing progress from such  a devastating event and complications. On October 16th a group of us friends celebrated her 60th birthday with her with cake and ice cream and presents.
To our delight, even with the tracheotomy, she could talk, eat cake and ice cream and even peanut butter pretzels of all things! She was quite coherent with a few little gaps here and there and could even remember and sing worship songs.
Terry has always been an adventurous and hardy soul and I thought throughout her ordeal that if anyone could overcome these challenges it would be her. A few weeks after her birthday she even had the trach removed and was able to eat and swallow, talk and breathe all on her own.  Her sister-in-law had said at the end of October that she would likely be moved to California "soon" because that is where her cousin, who had been appointed her guardian, lived.  Several of us began talking on the 27th of January of making another group trip down to Tacoma to see her.  When we contacted her sister-in-law to verify where she was so we could visit, we were informed that she had had another aneurysm on the 18th of January and had been moved to hospice.  She died the very day we were making these plans -- Friday, January 27th. 
Terry with our newly adopted twin daughters.
Back in the day, Terry and my husband and myself were all a part of a  sizeable group of young adults at Calvary Fellowship in the northern part of Seattle.  We attended service and Bible study classes and home fellowship groups together.  We also socialized with hikes, pot luck dinners, prayer sessions, trips to Denney's for coffee and spent time hanging out at Greenlake, Gasworks and Golden Garden's parks.  It was a lot of fun spending time together and the hours spent together slowly morphed into relationships, marriages, children and careers.  Terry and I were close friends for many years and stayed in touch for many more. We both worked for Continental Mortgage for several years -- she in loan processing and I at Thomas Escrow. 

In June of 1988 my husband had transferred to Ohio and our furniture had recently followed him, I stayed behind to finish working through July 1st. We were in process of adoption and to our delight we were "chosen" by our daughters' birth parents before we actually moved. Because my husband was off training for his new job, I called friend Terry and asked if she wanted to help me escort our new babies home!  Early Friday morning we got up, drove to Yakima and got to meet the adorable babies for the first time. Terry got to see the babies before their dad did!  It was such a fun trip, even more because rather than come back to Seattle, we drove from Yakima to Portland where my dad was having his huge retirement party after 16 years working for State Farm Insurance.  He and mom said that the babies were his "best present ever." 

Before we  had known we were going to be instant parents right before moving, Terry had already been planning to spend part of her vacation driving with me across country to Ohio and then she would fly back to Seattle after our road trip. Once we had the babies and had finalized the adoption (in case any of you were getting anxious about that) my folks offered to drive Terry and I and the girls from  Oregon to Ohio in the motor home and tow the car behind.  That sounded like a lot of fun and so we adjusted our plans!  Terry was always up for an adventure and off we all went.  It was quite the journey and included a fender-bender along the way, a side trip to Yellowstone and a racing a storm to the camp ground in Wyoming.  But we all survived and the rig remained drivable and so we did make it safely to Ohio. 
Terry at Yellowstone Park in July 1988.
A few months later we flew back to Portland for Christmas because, seriously, the grandparents had waited for years for grandkids and it only seemed fitting that they get to enjoy them.  We of course invited Terry down for Christmas too. The girls always loved it when "Aunt Terry" came around.

Terry in Portland, Christmas 1988
Terry was always very creative and crafty and made gifts to sell at craft fairs around the area.  Children of her friends benefited from all of Terry's largesse!  She made wonderful crib blankets for the twins during their first year and they got lots of use! 
Here the elder twin shows off Terry's handiwork -- the quilt (which has the recipient's name embroidered down the side), the cross-stitched bear and the "primitive doll" were all Terry's work.  The gifts came at different years.
 This is the quilt, cross stitched bear and the other primitive doll belonging to the other twin.  Years later we moved back from Ohio to Sequim, WA and Terry would occasionally make the ferry ride and drive to visit us there as well.  And we would sometimes pack up the group and come visit Terry on the east side of the Sound.
Terry and the twins at Hurricane Ridge when we lived in Sequim.  Note the quilted table cloth that Terry brought along.
One year Terry gave us a Christmas gift of twelve cross-stitched heart shaped ornaments.  These are some of my very favorite ornaments and they are all unique.  I took these photos just a month ago when we were taking down our tree decorations.  I wanted to show them to Terry to remind her of these ornaments if she had forgotten about making them. I wanted her to know how much we enjoy them every year. Little did I know that I would not have that opportunity. I can console myself with my best of intentions (and that, of course, always reminds me of my father's oft-quoted phrase "the road to hell is paved with good intentions!)"  I'm not finding that old adage very comforting! 
Later on I began quilting as well - inspired by Terry's example.  While my husband was in the Coast Guard stationed in Sequim, one of the ship captain wives taught those of us who were interested how to quilt.  I completely bought into hand quilting, but transitioned pretty easily to choosing machine piecing.  However, as far as I know, Terry remained very much the hand piecing and hand-quilting master!  Now I have been having difficulty finishing (because of wrist issues)  a 100 X 100 inch quilt that has as it's center a compass rose surrounded by a pattern known as "storm at sea."  While on vacation in Wisconsin last May, just days before I learned of Terry's aneurism, I had just had this "brilliant idea" to ask Terry to finish the hand-quilting for me (about a third of the quilt).  I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of that years ago and almost right away it was no longer an option.  Sigh.  Sadness.
 Tangen family from Hanlontown, Worth County, Iowa around 1900.
Our other great shared love is family history and genealogy.  We both have lots of extended family that lived in Worth County, Iowa a hundred or more years ago.  Since Worth County isn't THAT big and since we both have dozens of extended family, it seemed to both of us that we MUST have someone in common, some cute little couple that would have married and tied our two families together in some little corner of the County somewhere.  So far no success -- although our then-contemporary family members at least knew each other just as a part of daily life. 
Some of the Tangens and the Trustems from Worth County (those were in WI at the time)
My dear Terry-- I know that you have always had great trust in the Lord and I know that it was part of His will that this day has come.  He says in Isaiah 57 that "the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil." I know that you were living one day at a time for the past eight months, working your hardest to recover completely.  I didn't notice any particular complaining from you although there must have been things that bothered you a lot.  But now that is all past it must be a blessing to not be shackled with a body, but also a mind, that wasn't working so well any longer.  For myself, though, I am sad.  I have thought a lot over the past year about my myriad failings as a friend in general.  I think of thoughtlessness, busy-ness and inertia that resulted in not being as thoughtful and generous with time and resources over the years.  I think of other friends with whom I have mostly lost contact and connections over the years.  I can see my selfishness, my lack of thoughtful priorities and sometimes my lack of care. It's easy to make things all about me.  I'm glad that overall we didn't lose track of each other and I'm glad and kept our conversations going on Facebook.

I am glad I had and took several opportunities to visit you last year and wish I had made it at least one more time after the New Year. I promise not to forget you  and I will always remember the fun times we have had.  I'm going to keep looking for the family connection so we can be "cousins" as well as nearly lifelong friends.  I'll keep on praying for those things and people that I know are still important to you.

You've probably already met up with my folks who thought of you as a daughter.  They were likely eagerly waiting in line to greet you when they heard you were on your way home.  We've had several friends over the past decades that have passed on and you and they are all no doubt catching up on events of your lives and comparing notes on the ability of God to work all things together for good for those that love Him.  And maybe you and Tom have already met and are even now discussing what he meant when he told Jack  in wonder all those years ago, "We didn't know what color was!!!"

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, [Well, NOW you do] you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:6-9

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Visiting Castle Gate, Utah

Guy Lindsey in Castle Gate
I have had the amazing privilege of reading old letters from my Great Aunt Dora to my grandmother and my great grandparents Will and Ella Sherwood living in Wisconsin. Aunt Dora had married Guy Lindsey almost 105 years ago on February 15, 1912 in Pocatello, Idaho. She wrote to her parents ten days after that:

"I wish you could realize how thoughtful and good my boy is to me in every way. I am sure you will all be happy to know that I am no longer wandering alone in the world but that I can be guarded and cared for.  In spite of my years, Mrs. Cox and the regulars here have always called me their little girl and you have no idea with what interest they have followed the little romance of “love at first sight” which began with the Carlyle Fire Nov. 15 and culminated at the same Carlyle just three months later.  For the short time we have been here we both have so many friends here and those who know us both are so delighted.   At the same time we were able to go out together so little that our friends on the outside were greatly surprised.  I would not recommend that younger persons or those who had seen less of people and the world should be quite so hasty.  As Mrs. Cox said, you are both old enough to know what you want, and any one can see that it was a case of infatuation on both sides.  You who knew the “school marm” so sedate would scarcely recognize the unrestrained, carefree, girlishness of the bride in #22 and perhaps not wonder so much at her being called the “little girl.”
At that time Guy was a detective on the trains and spent his work hours protecting trains from attempted robberies or trying to get back things (most likely payrolls) that had been stolen.  Dora had a dream one night that one of the detectives had been shot so she wouldn't let Guy go to work. That day someone did get shot so after that he heeded her intuition.  Being a train detective was not a particularly safe sort of job and so I'm sure she added pressure in general to get out of it all together.

Later Guy wrote to his in-laws that:  "My work isn’t the best in the world as I may be called out at any time and gone for days at a time.  And then there is more or less danger attached to it.  Because I know most every crook and box car robber from coast to coast and they all know me and something may happen some day.  Dora worries so, every time I step out of the house, that I have made up my mind to quit in a very short while."
While the event  of the placard above happened years before Guy started working in Castle Gate, I am sure that the community memory of the event of the visit of Butch Cassidy and friends to Castle Gate continued to make everyone nervous!  So Guy began doing a variety of things to make ends meet for his growing family.  I'm not exactly sure what his jobs were at several of these old ghost towns of Utah, but he and Dora at various times lived in Tucker, Castle Gate, Rains, and Price and maybe at Gillouly and Soldier Summit.  My husband and I took a trip a few years ago to try and find what was left of these little towns.  Tucker was completely gone, buried now  under tons of crushed rock carrying the highway high above where it used to be.  Gillouly is a bend in the road with no sign of prior habitation.  Rains is inaccessible on private land. Guy and Dora's daughter Margaret was born in Tucker.  Francis and Marjorie were born in Castle Gate.  We were happy to see that there was SOME sign of life Castle Gate even if no one actually lived there.  Now (2010 we visited)  it was a coal fired electricity station. 
 Recently I came across some photos from Castle Gate that the Lindsey family sent off to their family in Wisconsin.  It is a treat to actually see what Castle Gate looked like at the time.  Captions for each photo are on the back.   If I had these photos when we visited I would have tried to match landmarks and tried to figure out where the miner's houses were. Next trip!
This bit of terrain actually matches up with the photo above! We can picture the rail cars laden with coal laboring their way up the mountains! 
Another train coming through Castle Gate.  I always have feelings of nostalgia when I have occasionally heard a steam train -- an event becoming even more rare as time goes by.
It seems that this bit of terrain would have been easy to match up if we had known -- or had randomly faced the camera in the right direction!  We were told that the miner houses were all moved to Helper, Utah Although there is a blog that appears to be a pretty good description of the terrible mine explosion that took place in 1924. 
 (I'm not advocating hauntings -- but the blog seems to have a good description of the terrifying and sad events.)  Dora and Guy lost at least one family friend in the mine disaster, a  John L Davis, whose family moved to Salt Lake and Dora mentioned getting together with his family in June of 1927. Guy and Dora Lindsey had by that time already moved on to Price before they finally settled in Salt Lake City.
This same winter Dora's parents came out to visit (as they loved to do) and Grandpa Sherwood showed that he was still young at heart!
Little Margaret goes sledding behind their house in Castle Gate..
Castle Gate remains a part of our extended family history.  But Guy and Dora eventually moved on to live out most of their years in Salt Lake City.