Happy Birthday Mom…Remembering the Small Things

My mom, Bonnie Lee Schwegler Lane would have been ninety-one today. Like most moms, she had a tremendous impact on my life. But it is the little things I remember most about her.

Schwegler, Bonnie (l) Betty (r), 1943

Mom, left, and her twin sister Betty about 1943.

I get my love of reading from her. When I was four or five she would read stories from our beautifully illustrated book Grimms Fairy Tales. Today the stories are considered too graphic for young children but I loved them. I remember the story Snow-White and Rose-Red, two sisters living in the woods with their widowed mother. One winter night they let a bear come into their house. Night after night the bear comes and stays overnight until spring when he says he has to go away to guard his treasure against a wicked dwarf. That summer the girls encounter the dwarf who is always in trouble and each time they rescue him from his travails. And each time the dwarf is ungrateful for their help. Then one day they come upon the bear who is about to kill the dwarf. The dwarf pleads for his life to no avail. The dwarf is killed and the bear turns into a handsome prince. The dwarf had put a spell on the bear when he stole some of the princes’ jewels. Snow-White marries the prince and Rose-Red marries the brother of the prince.

While the details of the story are fuzzy in my mind, I remember curling up on the bed with my mom in the middle and my brother on the other side of her. Despite the hard work she did, she had beautiful nails. I would run my little finger over her nail, back and forth, feeling the beautiful oval. Not too far into the story, my brother would squirm, being too young to appreciate the beautiful story unfolding before us. It would take several days to finish the book. She read many books to us, curled up in that bed, over the next several years. These are memories I cherish.

Mom died at the age of seventy-five leaving many moments in time for me and my brothers to remember.

Minnie Mae Perry and Putting the Bits and Pieces of Memories Together

Lane, Minnie Mae Perry

A Poor Picture of Minnie Mae in Later Years

Childhood memories float in our minds like ethereal pictures of bits and pieces of our experiences…bits and pieces that may or may not accurately reflect the true happenings of the moment. Such is my memory or lack of memory of my great-grandmother Minnie Mae Perry. 

Minnie Mae Perry was the mother of my grandfather, William (Will) Everett Lane. Her parents, Joseph Calvin Perry and Irene Reville/Revels were from Martin County, North Carolina. They migrated to Crockett County, Tennessee sometime around 1868. Minnie Mae, the fourteenth and last child of Joseph and Irene was born on 26 February 1875 in Maury City, Crockett County.  

Joseph only had two sons. All the remaining children were girls. In 1880, Joseph was farming the land with the help of his girls who ranged in age from nine to twenty. Minnie Mae, at the age of five, was too young to help. Unfortunately the 1890 census records were lost in a fire so we have no record of Minnie during that time-frame. Most likely she followed in the footsteps of her sisters in helping on the family farm until she married or until Joseph died sometime before 1890. 

Minnie Mae and my great-grandfather, Edgar Lane married in Crockett County on 20 July 1894. Minnie was nineteen, and a cradle robber, as Edgar was only fifteen. On 13 June 1895, my grandfather, Will was born. 

It could not have been a happy marriage. Edgar was known to be a gambler and it’s calculated that sometime around 1898 he disappeared. He may have walked away from gambling debts and family responsibilities too heavy for his young age of nineteen. It was possible back then to disappear and start a new life somewhere else. Or, as some family members believe, he came to a premature end due to his unsavory life style. However the cause, he was gone from Minnie and Will’s lives forever.

In those days, family helped to pick up the pieces of a shattered life. Fortunately Minnie’s mother Irene lived across the river in Gayoso Township located in Pemiscot County, Missouri. She was living with her son John, her widowed daughter Mary Mullins and Mary’s son Lloyd. Most likely Minnie and Will moved in with her extended family after Edgar’s disappearance as they are shown living with the family in the 1900 census. Minnie helped John with the farming and Mary helped with the domestic work.

Cosey, Sam picture with mules

Sam Cosey and Charley Bowers, 1901

The next year Minnie married Samuel Cosey on 3 August 1901 in Lake County, Tennessee. Sometime before or after their marriage, Sam and his neighbor, Charley Bowers, took a break from pulling logs to have their picture taken. The picture was subsequently published years later in an unknown newspaper and, fortunately, the clipping was saved by the Lane family.

Minnie and Sam added to their family when their daughter Gladys was born in 1902 and son Raymond was born in 1907. The entire family was living in Gayoso in 1910 including Minnie’s mother Irene and brother, John. John had changed his profession from farming to carpentry. Perhaps this is where my grandfather Will, fourteen at the time, learned his profession. 

Through the 1920s and 1930s the Cosey’s lived in Little Prairie, Pemiscot County. In 1939 Minnie lost Will to a bus accident with a Grey Hound bus in Caruthersville. The accident was on one of the major thoroughfares of this small town. Perhaps the reminder of the loss of her son each time she passed by this place was too much to bear for in 1940 she and Sam moved to Rombauer located in Butler County, Missouri.  

When I was about five or six I recall visiting “some people” who had mules. I believed that they lived in either Tennessee or Arkansas. I recall a rustic fence with mules inside. There were several older people standing around with my mother, father, brother, and me. My father, laughing, climbed over the fence and jumped on the back of one of the mules. He was immediately bucked off. When he got up, he was still laughing, a little sheepishly though, and climbed back over the fence. This picture of my dad being bucked off the mule is as clear today as it was back then. 

Cosey, Sam portrait

Sam Cosey

The reality of this memory is we visited my great-grandma Minnie and step-grandpa Sam. I didn’t even know Minnie existed until I started my genealogy quest a few years back. We were in Rombauer, Missouri not Arkansas or Tennessee. And Sam was known for his mules. I imagine he got a kick out of my dad trying his hand at riding one of his prize mules.

Sam Cosey died at the age of seventy-five in November of 1954.This was probably a year or so after our visit.  Just a little more than four months after Sam was buried, their son Raymond died of peritonitis of the gallbladder. This was a sad time for Minnie. Minnie lived another nine years joining Sam on 13 December 1963. Both are buried in Maple Cemetery in Caruthersville.  

Through interviews with cousins I was able to put the people and places together to form the accurate accounting of this wonderful memory.  Like all of us, I have a lots of bits and pieces of memories floating around in this old brain of mine. However, this was a reminder to me that I have to check, and re-check those bits and pieces to make sure I relate them as they really were.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

Lane, Talmadge and Schwegler, Bonnie Marriage Picture

Newly Weds, Tom and Bonnie Lane

Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad. Today would have been their seventy-first wedding anniversary. They didn’t make it to their fiftieth wedding anniversary either because my dad died when they had been married forty-six years.

Talmadge “Tom” Hollis Lane came from the small town of Caruthersville, in the flat delta in the bootheel of Missouri. He moved to the St. Louis area in the early 1940s where he took a job cutting shoes by hand. He was to continue at this craft until he retired later in life.

Bonnie Lee Schwegler was born in Maries County, Missouri near Vienna. Being of Swiss descent, her family lived in this area where many Swiss and Germans settled. The high, rolling hills reminded the immigrants of their homeland. By the time she was three her family had moved to St. Louis. The depression loomed and no doubt there were more opportunities to make a living in St. Louis.

Mom came from a large family of thirteen children. They had plenty to eat but with so many children, necessities like clothing and shoes were in short supply. She dropped out of high school when she was in her sophomore year. Mom simply got tired of washing out clothes everyday and having shoes that were falling apart. It’s ironic that she went from having shoes that were falling apart to working for a shoe factory. She began working at Johansen Brothers Shoe factory, located in downtown St. Louis, in 1946.

Dad had a very sketchy track-record when it came to women. He married Nima Tanner in 1936. This marriage produced my two half-sisters, Cleo and Kay. This marriage ended in 1945. He married again in April of 1946 only to have his wife, Mildred Foster, die a tragic death during an operation on the first of July. On the 17th of  August, a month and a half later, mom and dad were married by a justice of the peace at the St. Louis County Courthouse. Why they married so quickly after Mildred died is a mystery to me. He was a handsome man and perhaps offered a way out of her situation at home.

wedding-1335649_640Dad died on 22 January 1993; she followed nine years later on 29 June 2002. When mom died her thin gold ring was worn down to a band the thickness of a piece of spaghetti. It reminded me of their long, rocky marriage that had worn them down during the years. But there is no doubt in my mind that they loved each other despite the trials and tribulations they put each other through. Today, and every August 17th, I remember them and honor them for giving life to me and my brothers. Through thick and thin, and good and bad, they hung on until the end.

Remembering Vernon Everett Lane on Memorial Day

It all started with Decoration Day. On May 5, 1868 Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared May 30th as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers.¹  At the first remembrance, at Arlington National Cemetery, small flags were placed upon the graves of the fallen. Over the years the day has morphed into Memorial Day, a national holiday, and has expanded to include all who died in American wars.

Today is Memorial Day and a good time to reflect on the holiday. As time goes by more and more of our World War II veterans have passed away. All of my mother’s brothers who served have been gone for several years, as have the relatives of my husband who served in the war. These families were lucky; all of their loved ones returned. Perhaps with mental scars, but at least they returned with bodies intact.

Lane, Vernon, Navy

Vernon Everett Lane

My Uncle Vernon was not so lucky. He lost his life in the Pacific Ocean. I wrote about Vernon in a previous blog. I knew Vernon had two sons, Bill and Dick. Several years ago Bill surprised me when he came to my mother’s funeral. I had never met him and I was extremely touched by his attendance. He gave me his phone number and I promised to call him. Family responsibilities and a demanding job got in the way and I never contacted him. Prior to Christmas 2015, when I was addressing Christmas cards, I came upon Bill’s phone number and decided to call him. This phone number had been sitting in my address book for fourteen years. Against all odds, Bill still had the same phone number. We met again and this time he brought his genealogist brother Dick with him. It was a great reunion talking about his father and our Lane family. At a subsequent meeting, Dick brought along the medical records from my Uncle Vernon which told the rest of the story.

Uncle Vernon was red-haired, brown-eyed, and twenty-five when he was inducted into the Navy as an apprentice seaman on April 7, 1944. He was five feet, six inches tall and weighed one hundred and forty-one pounds. He was employed as a primer assembly machine adjuster by a company in St. Louis that manufactured small arms. Within a week of induction, Vernon was sent to the U.S. National Training Station in Farragut, Idaho to receive training.

During World War II, the U.S. government didn’t mess around. By mid-July Vernon was transferred to the U.S. Naval Receiving station in Adak, Alaska and on July 22, 1944 he joined the USS Kimberly. On March 1, 1945 he was promoted from Navy Seaman to Seaman 2nd class.

Vernon was good at writing letters to his loved ones at home. Several of his letters to my grandmother, Ruberta, were found in her purse after her death (see Maw’s Purse). After reading these letters I wondered if Vernon had a feeling that he wouldn’t survive the war because he always reassured my grandmother that he would be alright. Or perhaps, because my grandmother had lost her husband William Everett Lane in 1939, her anxiety came through in her letters to Vernon and he was trying to help ease her fears.

During the last week of March 1945, the U.S.S. Kimberly was taking part of “Operation Iceberg.” The purpose was to take Kerama Retto, an island about twenty miles from Okinawa. The U.S. Navy wanted to establish a naval seaplane base and sheltered anchorage prior to the invasion of Okinawa. On March 26th, the U.S.S. Kimberly was proceeding to her picket station off Kerama Retto.²

Operation_Iceberg_-_Kerama_Retto_-_1945The navy had surprised the Japanese but they were able to send out two Japanese D3A airplanes used as carrier-based bombers and dive-bombers, in other words Kamikaze. The Kimberly’s lookouts saw the planes and opened fire turning the planes away. The planes veered off but then headed toward the USS Kimberly again.³ You can imagine the noise and the sound as the guns blasted away at the approaching planes. Eventually one of the planes went out of control and fell vertically on the ship. From accounts of the intensity of the explosion, it was indicated that there was a bomb onboard the plane.

Call it bad luck, or just doing his job, Vernon was in the area of the explosion. From the medical records we know that he received burns to his face, neck, arms, chest, and legs suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 75% of his body. Within four hours he was transferred to the USS Rixey, a casualty evacuation transport ship. His care was crude compared to the care burn victims receive today, but the best he could receive at the time. He must have been in terrible pain and hopefully the morphine he was given helped to alleviate that pain. For four days he was in shock, was restless and irrational, and had an increasing temperature. Despite the effort of the naval doctors, Vernon lost his battle at 8:38 am on March 30th. He was buried at sea at latitude 26° 14’ North, Longitude 127° 11’ East at 4:30 that afternoon. A headstone at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis County commemorates his death. Records indicate fifty-seven men were seriously wounded, four died from that attack, and Vernon was one of them.

Lane, Vernon E, Western Union Telegraph

A sad day when this telegram arrived.

A letter from the ship Chaplain, Lindley E. Cook, was sent to Vernon’s wife Evelyn the day he died. The chaplain reported he didn’t suffer too much because he was unconscious most of the time. He kept repeating her name. Who knows how long it took for Evelyn to receive the word. My grandma learned of Vernon’s death via a telegram advising her Vernon had died and was buried at sea with full military honors. Evelyn later received a letter from the Secretary of Navy authorizing the Purple Heart to be posthumously awarded to Vernon.

On 3 May, 1945, an article in The Sikeston (Mo.) Herald listed Vernon as one of the fourteen men from the southeast Missouri area that were killed in combat. I can’t imagine the heart-break again that Evelyn and my grandmother must have gone through if they saw the name of their loved one in the newspaper. Somehow that would make it all too final.

According to Wikipedia over 291,000 U.S. soldiers were killed in combat during World War II. Bill and Dick’s dad, and my Uncle, was one of those 291,000 people. So while you enjoy your time-off, please remember those who gave their lives to free the world of tyranny so many years ago. ⁴


¹ Memorial Day History. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp : accessed 24 May 2017.

² Picture – By Beans, Bullets and Black Oil by Admiral Worrall Reed Carter, USN – HyperWar, Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18291758

³ Excerpted from USS Kimberly, (DD-521), Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Kimberly_(DD-521)

⁴ Excerpted from World War II casualties, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=World_War_II_casualties&oldid=721786950 : accessed 24 May 2017.

Turtle Cookies

turtle-cookies1

Turtle Cookies, Forground

Cookies are a mainstay of Christmas. We bake them for family and share with neighbors and friends. We leave a plate of delicious cookies for Santa to nibble on as he fills stockings and places presents under our tree. The aroma of baking cookies fills our home and elicits memories of Christmases past.

We are a melting pot of ethnic groups that have brought their customs and favorite recipes to our country including their cookie recipes. When I was a child my mother baked the usual chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. But her favorites to make were turtle cookies. These maple flavored treats with pecans and chocolate icing were made in the shape of turtles. Years ago I made these cookies and decided that they were too troublesome to make. Being a good wife my sister-in-law makes these cookies for my brother every year. A recent conversation with her inspired me to try my hand at making the turtle cookies again. Success!! They turned out as I remembered them.

I have often wondered where this cookie recipe came from. Through the years I have become more proficient in the art of baking and every year try a new cookie recipe. I buy magazines with cookie recipes, save the food section of local newspapers whenever they feature cookies, and have a cook book with one thousand cookie recipes. I have never come across the recipe for turtle cookies in any of these resources.

My maternal great-grandfather came from Switzerland. Could this recipe be Swiss? The recipe is listed below in hopes that someone out there can help me.  Have you ever seen this recipe? Are turtle cookies part of your heritage? If so please let me know. If not, give them a try. They are yummy!

TURTLE COOKIES (Makes about two dozen)

 ½ cup of butter (one stick)

½ cup brown sugar

1 egg yolk (save the whites)

¼ tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. maple extract

1 ½ cups sifted flour (you really need to sift the flour)

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven at 350°. Grease cookie sheets.

Cream butter and add brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, vanilla, and maple extract. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Chill dough for one hour. To form the turtles use one pecan for the head and two pecans for the legs. Roll dough into small balls using a teaspoon or small scoop. Lightly beat egg whites. Dip each ball into the egg whites and place on the pecans shaping the ball like a turtle. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely and ice with your favorite chocolate icing.

Paw Prints in the Pie

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where food is prepared to nourish the family, where kids do their homework, and where family congregates to share the happenings of the day. It is where memories of everyday life and holidays past and present reside. And so it was with the Lane family kitchen.

 Our little family lived in a four room house until I was eight years old. The house, most likely the servant’s quarters for the large house at the front of the property, consisted of the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bath. There was no basement or foundation. It was small but cozy.

The kitchen table is where we congregated waiting for mom to finish cooking dinner, where we ate, and where we did our homework. After dinner mom and dad would move to the living room and listen to the radio. When we were older they watched the television . My brother Bill and I would sit at the kitchen table and finish our homework, or color in our coloring books. Some evenings, we knew when we heard the words, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow Knows,” that it was time to go to bed. First the radio program, and then the television program, scared the life out of me.

Even though we lived modestly, we were fortunate to have a television. Television has a strong influence on kids. One of the times when I got into big trouble was when I helped myself to a large dollop of lard to create the Alfalfa look in my hair. Anyone who grew up on Our Gang and the Little Rascals knows that Alfalfa had a spike of hair that stood up straight on the top of his head. It worked for him; not so much for me.

When I was eight my parents purchased their first home. It was larger but still modest with two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and bath. It also had a much needed basement. My parents converted the dining room into their bedroom so my brother and I could have our own bedrooms.

lane-thanksgiving

That little kitchen is full of memories. I remember the glass shelves in the window with my mother’s collection of souvenir cups and saucers. The refrigerator sat in a cubby hole. Above the refrigerator was a cabinet where the Christmas presents were hidden each year. The room was so small, that while we were eating dinner, I had to move if someone needed something out of the refrigerator. I can still hear my mother tell me when I washed dishes to slow down, do it right the first time so I wouldn’t have to do it again.

black toy poodle puppiesIn the summer of my fourteenth year my little brother Dennis was born. Shortly after his birth, my mother received a phone call from my Aunt Goldie. She lived in Indianapolis and was going to be coming to St. Louis for a visit. Her full-bred, miniature poodle had given birth to puppies and she wanted to know if we wanted one. I’m not sure what my mother was thinking when she agreed to take one of the puppies while having a newborn in the house. The puppy’s was named FiFi. This black little fuzz ball was cute as can be but chewed her fair share of shoes or anything that was left on the floor. That Christmas, as she did every holiday, my mother baked a pumpkin pie the day before. Refrigerator space was at a premium so the pumpkin pie was covered with a dish cloth and placed on the kitchen table. The next morning, after we opened presents, I went into the kitchen where I discovered paw prints in the pie. Somehow FiFi had climbed onto the table and had walked on the pie forcing the dish cloth into the pie leaving little indentations. Her goal was the full bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and the pie was inconveniently in the way. She ate every peanut butter cup, paper included. FiFi survived the chocolate, but I’m sure she was one sick little puppy for awhile. And by the way, we didn’t let that pie go to waste.

green-tomatoesMom liked to garden. The summer, when Dennis was three or four, she grew tomatoes. Hearing her pitching a fit, I went into the kitchen where I saw perhaps twenty or thirty little green tomatoes piled upon Dennis’ high chair tray. He had “helped” her by picking all of the tomatoes off the vines. He was a handful so we kept an eye on him. How he got all of those tomatoes off the vine without anyone noticing is still a mystery. A little later that day we couldn’t find him. Eventually I found him in my brother’s bedroom squeezed between the wall and the chest of drawers. When I asked him what he was doing he said, “I’m hiding from the police. They are coming to get me.” We all had a good laugh.

That little kitchen has so many memories for me; the turkeys, the pies, the meat and potatoes, my mom getting up at the crack of dawn to make breakfast for my dad before he left for work, and so many more. The kitchen is where memories are made, where generations come together and share traditions; it is where love resides. I hope my children and grandchildren have fond memories of time spent in our kitchen. How about you? What are your memories?

 

Maw’s Purse

The pursuit of my family history has been a wonderful journey. Not only have I found new cousins, but have reconnected with cousins I haven’t seen for many years. My cousin Carla is one of those cousins. She is the daughter of my father’s sister Helen. Carla was closer to my age than other cousins so it was natural for us to play together. Not too long ago I visited Carla. We had not seen each other for many years. I had anticipated that Carla might have pictures that I didn’t have and I had pictures to share with her. Unbeknownst to me, she had a treasure in her possession, maw’s purse.

maws-purse

Maw’s Purse

As I mentioned in an earlier post about Ruberta, my paternal grandmother, she was not a warm and fuzzy person. In fact she came across as a cold. I really didn’t know her and, in the half-dozen times we visited her, I was never to know why she was unable to show the slightest bit of warmth to me or my brother. It is only through talking to my cousins, and finding records about her, that I have come to understand her better.

Maw knew heartache. She lost her father, Aub Hood, about the age of fourteen. Not too long after that she married John Wayson, a man who was forty-one years of age. By today’s standards it’s hard to understand how her mother could allow her marry someone twenty-seven years her senior. The family was poor so perhaps marrying her off provided one less mouth to feed. The marriage didn’t last as Ruberta was back with the family in 1910.

On March 12, 1913, Maw was married to my grandfather William Everett Lane. Between 1914 and 1924 six children were born to the couple. Life was difficult. The great depression was going strong, beginning in 1924 and ending in 1939. Jobs were difficult to come by. Grandpa Lane was a carpenter and through the years the children picked cotton to supplement the family income.

The life of the family changed on June 4, 1939 when Will was instantly killed when his car was struck by a Greyhound bus. There was a settlement with the bus company that provided some relief to Maw, but I’m sure she would have given anything to have Will back with the family.

Tragedy struck again when my uncle Vernon was killed aboard a ship that was hit by a Kamikaze plane in the Pacific Ocean close to the end of the war. Maw had lost her husband and her son in the span of six years.

When Carla brought out Maw’s purse, I was amazed at the discoveries waiting for me. The purse was stuffed, and I do mean stuffed, with what appeared to be every receipt that Maw received during her lifetime. There was a receipt for a car that Grandpa Lane purchased in 1922; an Overland automobile that was already fifteen years old at the time he purchased it.

There were receipts for lumber, windows, doors, nails, and other items for use in the building of houses. There were insurance receipts, a delayed marriage certificate, grandpa’s social security card, mortgage papers; receipts that obviously meant something to Maw.

And the most poignant treasures in the purse were four letters from Vernon written to Maw while he was at sea in the Pacific Ocean. Written two weeks before he died close to the end of the war, he was responding to the fact that Maw had visited his wife Evelyn and two sons recently. In his letter he said, “Did you think the boys had growed [sic] very much? I would give anything in the world to see them but I guess it will be some time yet before I get to see them.”

He told Maw there was nothing to worry about. Was he trying to reassure himself that he would be fine as he wrote those letters to comfort her? We will never know. The saddest of all was the telegram advising Maw of his death at sea; the words so black and final upon that piece of paper.

The letters have been reunited with Vernon’s sons. My cousin Dick, who was a baby when Vernon died, told me after reading the letters he felt, for the first time, he was hearing his father’s words.

Perhaps Maw had so much loss in her life that she kept herself at arm’s length from people to insulate herself from extreme loss again. Did the receipts from her life somehow give her a feeling of closeness to the events that represented her life and the loved ones she had lost? Whatever the reasons, the contents in Maw’s purse assured me that she was a feeling woman, just not one to wear her heart upon her sleeve.

July is Blackberry Picking in the Midwest

Blackberries 1024

The extreme heat of this July has resurrected memories of blackberry picking of my childhood. Long before I ever picked my first berry my mother had spent many a summer in the county of her birth picking the deep purple, luscious fruit with her mother and siblings. Most likely out of need, the Schwegler family would travel to Maries County, Missouri where they would visit with family. In July, when the fruit ripened, they would don their “picking” outfits and go to their favorite thicket of bushes and spend several hours filling their buckets to the brim. Long-sleeved shirts and pants were called for or long, angry scratches were the result of reaching into the brambles for those plum morsels of blackberry goodness. After the trek, hours were spent in the kitchen brewing jars of blackberry jams and jellies that would last into the next year.

 My family spent many summer weekends traveling to Osage County where my grandfather, Wright Schwegler, had a clubhouse on the Gasconade River. My mother continued the tradition of picking blackberries. And oh how I hated that tradition. I can’t think of anything worse than putting on long sleeves and pants and hiking in the heat of July. Our picking crew consisted of my mom, my brother Bill, and me. My dad would drive us to the same location every year since my mom didn’t drive. We would hike up a long hill to a massive thicket of Blackberry brambles hiding their jewels among their thorns. By the time we would get there, I would be soaked in sweat; not a comfortable feeling for a city-bred, teen-aged girl. No matter how hard I tried I still wound up with long slivers of red scratches on my arms, despite the long-sleeves, and my hands were covered with wounds from the long thorns of the bushes. I don’t ever recall my mother making jams or jellies so we must have eaten the fruit over the course of the next few days.

 Some of my best memories of those days at the clubhouse include warm salads made with fresh greens and tomatoes picked from my grandfather’s garden smothered in Viva Italian dressing. A short walk up the road would result in fresh ears of corn to be boiled and slathered with butter. And best of all, catfish tails from the fish caught on the trotlines from the night before were covered in corn-meal and deep-fried to golden perfection. My brother and I weren’t allowed to eat the other meat of the fish; it had to be the tails since my mother was afraid we would choke on the bones from the other parts of the fish. There were many things we weren’t able to do, which is a testament to my mother’s will to see us safely through our childhood.

 Unfortunately, the tradition of blackberry picking wasn’t passed on to my sons. Today, if one wants, you can have blackberries on the menu most days as they are grown all over the world and shipped to the United States for consumption. I’m not sure the blackberries we get today are as good as those picked straight from the source, but they sure are easier to come by. And despite being uncomfortable, I still have fond memories of those days so many years ago spent with my family in pursuit of blackberries ripened in July.  

 

Finding Edgar Lane and Doing the DNA Happy Dance

Edgar Lane lived a short life. And he was my great-grandfather. He was born to John C. and Marietta (Vaughn) Lane about 1878 or 1879 most likely in Dyer County, Tennessee.

I searched for Edgar in census records for a long time. And finally I found him in 1880 living in Crockett County, Tennessee in the home of George Vaughn, enumerated as G. W. Maugham¹. Edgar was between the age of one and two years of age. His brother Isaac was four months old. Their mother, Marietta, had died before the census was taken leaving their father John with two very young children.

Like all good genealogists I questioned many times whether I had the correct person; there were so few documents for Edgar. One day, while looking for Lane’s and Vaughn’s in Crockett County on the GenWeb.com website, I found a link to people who were listed as contacts for surnames. This led me to Jean, my genealogy angel. She was listed as a contact for the Vaughn family surname. I took a chance and emailed her. And lucky me, she replied back. In the beginning we shared family stories, and the more we communicated, the more we felt that there was a family connection. A year later I sent my DNA to FamilyTree and eagerly awaited the results. The happy dance commenced when I found that Jean was listed as one of my matches. I was on the right track.

TonyaandJean

Tonya (left) with genealogy angel and cousin, Jean in Crockett County, Tennessee.

Edgar married Minnie Mae Perry on 19 July 1894 in Crockett County.² He was about fifteen, which seems very young to be married. A year later, my grandfather, William Everett Lane, was born. Why did he marry at an early age? Perhaps his age was incorrectly enumerated, perhaps he was a wild child, or people just got married at a young age back then. We may never know.

A relative told me that Edgar liked to gamble and disappeared one day. Speculation was that he owed someone money and wound up in the river as fish-food; a gruesome thought. Or it’s possible he was one of those men who shirked their responsibility by leaving their families and taking up a new identity somewhere else in the United States.

Life went on for Minnie Mae and their son William Everett. She married Sam Cosey in 1901. In a probate document recorded in June 1906, after the death of George Vaughn, was the sentence “Due on settlement to be equally divided between Minton Vaughn and the Lane minor heir of Edgar Lane deceased.”³  All of the clues, plus the DNA, have confirmed to me that indeed John and Marietta Lane and George Vaughn are my ancestors.

I was fortunate to meet my genealogy angel, and cousin, Jean  last year when she and her husband Jim met me in Crockett County. They took me to the location where the Vaughn homestead once stood and to Lebanon Church Cemetery where Richard Vaughn, my gggg-grandfather, and other Vaughn family members are buried. She has been so kind in sharing her well-researched genealogy with me.

And recently I enjoyed another happy dance. I located a cousin, via DNA and Ancestry.com that connects me to John Lane. Life is good!

If anyone has information about this cast of characters that are my ancestors please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

My Lane genealogy line is:

Great, Great-Grandfather, John Lane b. abt. 1859, d. abt. 1898
married Marietta Vaughn b. 1860, d. abt. 1880

Great-Grandfather, Edgar Lane b. abt. 1879, d. abt. 1898
married Minnie Mae Perry b. 26 Feb 1875, d. 13 Dec 1863

Grandfather, William Everett Lane b. 13 Jun 1895, d. 5 Jun 1939
married Ruberta Hood b. 14 Oct 1894, d. 5 Feb 1969

Father, Talmadge Hollis Lane b. 21 Nov 1914, d. 22 Jan 1993
married Bonnie Lee Schwegler b. 25 Mar 1927, d. 29 Jun 2002

 

 


¹1880 U.S. census, Crockett County, Tennessee, population schedule, Maury City, enumeration district (ED) 007, sheet 240-C, dwelling 121, family 121, George Maugham (Vaughn) household, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Mar 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1249.

²Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, indexed database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 Jun 2015), Crockett, 1894, image 3 of 4 : Edgar Lane to Minnie Mae Perry.

³Crockett, Tennessee, Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927, 3: 235, George W. Vaughn; FHL film 179819001, Image 415 of 524, Settlement record for George Vaughn.

 

Sam Had His Fifteen Minutes of Fame

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” [I]

Andy Warhol

Sam had his fifteen minutes of fame. He was ahead of the times. Sam was a duck, my duck. He was one of those Easter presents given to children back in the 1950s. My brother Bill was given a duck too. I’m sure the gifts were the result of Bill and me begging for the ducks. There probably was very little expectation on the part of our parents that our ducks would survive. Bill’s duck died within a short period of time, but Sam survived and thrived. The practice of giving ducks and chicks to kids is frowned upon today for good reason.

Baby Pekin Duck

By Jimpingmaniac – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7780714

I was about twelve when Sam was given to me. Sam was a creamy, white domesticated male duck, a Pekin Duck. Full grown he was about two and a half feet tall. We kept Sam in an area between our house and the fence of our next door neighbor. Anyone who knows about ducks and chickens know that they are not the cleanest animals. Being a child of twelve I never thought of the implications of keeping a duck penned so closely to our neighbors; they were saints. And most likely my dad was the one who kept the pen clean, because I didn’t.

Toward the end of the 50s and the 60s, several St. Louis-based TV shows geared toward children were being aired; shows like Cookie and the Captain, Captain 11, and Texas Bruce. One of these programs, unfortunately I can’t remember which one, featured pets. You could send in a picture of your pet, and if they chose yours, you could take your pet onto the program. Dogs, cats, turtles, and a host of other pets were paraded across the TV set with the camera following close behind. I was so in love with Sam that, with the help of my parents, I sent off a picture to the TV station with hopes they would find Sam so alluring that they would invite me to the program to show him off.

Lane, Talmadge and Sam the Duck - 2

My dad, Tom Lane and Sam. Not the best picture.

I recall coming home from school one day to the news that my duck had been chosen to appear on the show. The day arrived. I was so excited. My dad prepared a box, with holes, to transport Sam to the station. I’m sure my mom did her best to make me as pretty as I could be. So off we went me, my dad, and Sam in his box. The first thing we did when we got to the station was to take Sam out of his box for the television staff to preview. Sam quacked, waddled around; he was so cute. But unfortunately he left a “present” on the floor. The immediate decision was made that Sam had to stay in his box when he and I went on air. Sam had his debut, but no one could see the full glory of this fellow viewed from above looking down on him. Where other kids could parade their pets around my pet had to stay in his box. Talk about being disappointed.

We kept Sam for about two years. He had a tendency to bite me. If you have ever been bitten by a duck you know it hurts. I don’t know if my dad got tired of cleaning out Sam’s pen or the fact that he was beginning to be aggressive, but the decision was made that Sam had to go. One Saturday morning my dad put him in the car and took him to a “farm.” I always had my suspicions that he was being taken somewhere to be someone’s dinner, but my parents assured me he would be happy in a farm setting with other ducks.

So you see, my duck had his fifteen minutes of fame long before Andy Warhol penned the phrase. He surely was a duck ahead of the times.

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[i] 15 minutes of fame. (2016, April 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:08, May 16, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=15_minutes_of_ fame&oldid=714389059