Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Nyleta Powell 1926-1987

Nyleta wasn't given a middle name by her parents, Ernest and Julia (Davis) Powell, when she was born on May 1, 1926, in Hartshorn, Texas County, Missouri. She wasn't named after a grandmother, an aunt, or any other family member alive or dead. The name was more common in Australia but very rare at that time in the United States. It makes me wonder how Ernest and Julia, a farming couple from the Ozarks, came up with the name for their second daughter, my maternal grandmother.

Growing up, Nyleta was called by the nickname Tooter. Given to her as a child when she was working really, really hard to learn to whistle, the name stuck with her throughout her life among family and close friends. When I was a little girl, I thought her real name was Tooter because that's all I'd ever heard her called. I discovered her "real" name when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My dad had filled in the simple family tree in the front of my parent's wedding Bible, my first genealogical discovery!

Nyleta (Powell) Cobb, wedding portrait taken in Dec. 1944
My grandparents were married in Kansas City, Missouri in December of 1944. Leroy Cobb was born in 1927 in West Plains, Howell County, Missouri and was only 17 when they were married, requiring the consent of his parents, Kay and Hattie Cobb. Nyleta was 18 and considered "of age". In the Spring of 1945, Leroy enlisted in the Navy. He was discharged a year later and the young couple settled down to begin their family. They lived in downtown Kansas City in a home with Roy's parents. It was there that daughter Louise came in 1947, followed by Julia in 1949, and Ronald in 1952. Nyleta worked some odd jobs during that time to supplement the family income. She packed tomatoes at the City Market and worked for her Uncle Joe Fisher at his downtown restaurant.

Leroy and Nyleta Cobb, about 1950,
at a Cobb family gathering.
In 1956, Leroy and Nyleta bought a home of their own in the Gladstone area of Kansas City. It was a small home, but even after son Randall came that year, it was roomy enough for their family of 6. When I was little, my grandma worked in the Farmland cafeteria. I think it was mostly a cafeteria for the Farmland employees, but I remember going with my mom to have lunch at Grandma's work. She worked there until she retired.

Nyleta Cobb with her daughters, Louise and Julia.
Taken in Hartshorn at her parent's home about 1951.
My grandmother enjoyed having her family near. She loved to host everyone at her house, cooking meals to feed as many as could cram around her big dining room table. In the 1970s and 1980s, three of her four children moved their families out of state. My grandma really hated that her kids were so far away, but the worst was that they took the grandchildren with them. Our family vacations were always to my grandparent's house to visit, and they made trips to see us, too.

Leroy and Nyleta Cobb, 1981
at my parent's house in North Bend, WA
Nyleta was diagnosed with cancer at age 59 and died two years later after a long, tough struggle. She was as special as her name was unusual, and is so fondly remembered by her family.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Great Aunt Ernestine - an artist who lost her vision

Edna Ernestine Allen Dvorak (1908-2005) was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and artist. Born in 1908 in the farming community of Outlook, Washington, Ernestine was immersed in the arts from a young age. To entertain themselves, she and her siblings were encouraged by their parents, Elam and Rena Allen, to be creative. They learned to play instruments, sing, write poetry, draw, and paint. After graduating Salutatorian of her Kiona Benton High School class, Ernestine made the decision to pursue art studies at the Derbyshire School of Fine Arts in Seattle. She also studied poetry writing under the tutelage of Lucile V. McCurtain, publishing several pieces in literary magazines. A charter member of Artists United and a member of the Seahurst Workshop Gallery in Burien, Ernestine created many marvelous paintings and won numerous awards. Ernestine's husband, Don Dvorak, worked behind the scenes in movie theaters, running the projectors to bring the movies to the big screen for viewers. Ernestine and her children were always among the first to see the newest films. It's fair to say that Ernestine's life revolved around the world of art.

Don and Ernestine Dvorak
photo courtesy of Rene Rodgers.

I met my Great Aunt Ernestine only once. My cousin Rene and I arranged a visit to see her in the early 2000's. I don't recall the exact year, but the visit itself is a clear memory. Ernestine gave us a tour of her home, pointing out her artwork as we passed each framed canvas. This tour was from memory; Ernestine was blind. Her sight had faded gradually as she aged due to hereditary glaucoma and she had been blind for many years. When I met her that day, she wore dark glasses and had been listening to the Bible through headphones. There was a stack of religious audiobooks on the table in front of her. It appeared that this was how she now spent much of her time. In her 90s, Great Aunt Ernestine was still sharp as a tack. She shared some stories of her childhood and told me about my grandmother, her younger sister Helen. As a story-teller, she was also a bit of an artist. Adding flourishing details, she animated the tales she told and I can vividly recall them today.

It wasn't long after our visit that Ernestine died. I have often thought of her and the challenge it must have been to lose her eyesight, and with it, her ability to create her beloved paintings. I could still see the pride on her face as she led that tour through her artwork. She could recollect when and where she had painted each one and the awards and recognition that had followed. Newspaper clippings of her accomplishments were lovingly saved in scrapbooks. As Rene and I thumbed through them, Ernestine was following along from memory. When she spoke of her sadness at being forced to give up the hobby she so loved, I said a little prayer asking for my sight to remain until I die.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The first Ambrose Cobb

Generation 1: Ambrose, an oft-repeated name in the Cobb family in America, started with Ambrose Cobbs, born circa 1565 in Eastleigh Court, Lyminge, Kent, England and died between 1605-1607 in Petham, Kent, England. He was my 11th Great-Grandfather. His son Ambrose (1603-1655/56) was the first American immigrant in my Cobb line, arriving in Virginia in the early 1630s.

All Saint's Church, Petham, Kent, England
The burial place of Ambrose Cobbs (1565-1605/7).

Generation 2: Ambrose the Immigrant was the second son of Ambrose and Angelica Hunt, so he wasn't likely to inherit land in England. He had two uncles, his mother's brothers, who were some of the first Jamestown settlers. Perhaps it was their encouragement, coupled with his "second son" status, that led to his decision to leave England. He and his wife, Ann White, with their young son Robert and daughter Margaret, arrived in Virginia about 1634. They had at least two more children after they settled, Ambrose in 1635 and Thomas in 1637.

Generation 3: Robert Cobbs, son of Ambrose and Ann, married Elizabeth Thorpe in Bruton Parish (Williamsburg) about 1655. They had at least five children, one of them to be named Ambrose.

Generation 4: Ambrose Cobbs, son of Robert and Elizabeth, married Frances Elizabeth Pinkett in 1687 in Bruton Parish. Ambrose was one of the founding vestrymen of Bruton Parish Church, a building that still stands in Williamsburg. Ambrose and Frances had several children, one of them was a son named Ambrose. Their son Robert, though, was my direct line ancestor.

Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, Virginia.

Generation 5: Robert Cobb, son of Ambrose and Frances, was born in 1687 in Bruton Parish, Virginia. He married Crosia Frith by 1725. Of their many children, a son named Ambrose is in my direct line.

Generation 6: Ambrose Cobb, son of Robert and Crosia, was born in 1729 in Bruton Parish. He married Sarah (last name may be Howell) and had at least eleven children. One of those was a son named Ambrose, but my ancestor was a younger son named James, born in 1770. Ambrose and Sarah moved to Lincoln County, North Carolina, where Ambrose died in 1797.

Generation 7: James Cobb, my 5th great-grandfather, is the one that broke the Ambrose tradition in my direct line. He had at least three sons, but none carried the family name as far as I can find. James married Sarah Beach in 1790 and died young, in 1805, leaving his widow with several young children to care for. Sarah died in 1823.

The name Ambrose continued, however, in other lines. Vintner, another son of Ambrose and Sarah, named a son Ambrose. Another of their sons, William, named a daughter Ambrosia. I haven't researched all of the family lines, but I would bet that I'd find another Ambrose somewhere along the way.

Note: I have done a lot of work researching the Cobb family from James to the present, but the research into the earlier lines is not my own. Credit goes to Cobb and Cobbs, the Kent Cobb Families, and research done by Robert S. Cobb, which is included now on the Cobb and Cobbs website in its entirety.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Duffield/Sisson Postcards No. 56

Postcard 56, like the last one, was sent from Lyle Green to his sister-in-law Edith (Duffield) Sisson to update her on the condition of her little sister Eva following an operation.

City Hall and Court House, Chicago
The Cook County Building, which houses the City Hall offices and the County Court House, is still in use today. The building was designed by Holiburd & Roche, Architects, and constructed in 1910.

Postmarked April 6, 1913, at 1:30 AM in Chicago.
Addressed to:
Mrs. Edith Sisson
408 Marcy St.

Dear Ede,
Everything all O.K.
Eva started to eat 
to-day appetite good
and pains growing
less every day.

Duffield/Sisson Postcards No. 55

This postcard is the 55th in order by date from the collection of Edith (Duffield) Sisson, my husband's great-grandmother. The collection was saved by Edith's daughter, Edythe (Sisson) Brown, and after she died, her son Warren became the caretaker. When he passed away, I was lucky to have the chance to rescue many family treasures from being tossed out, including this great collection.

Edith's little sister Eva (Duffield) Green has authored a several of the postcards in this collection so far (3, 28, 29, 30, 31, 41, 45, 49). This one and the next are penned by her husband, Lyle Green. It seems that Eva has had an operation and Lyle is sending updates. The Green's lived north of Ottawa in the community of Dayton and operated a dairy farm. They must have been in Chicago, however, for Eva's surgery. Both postcards are postmarked in Chicago and feature subject matter of the city.

No. 809, V. O. Hammon Pub. Co., Chicago
The S.S. Christopher Columbus was a steamship designed by Scottish immigrant Alexander McDougall, inventor of the whaleback hull shape. It was the longest Whaleback ever built and the only one built for passenger service. At the time of this postcard, 1913, it was running a daily service from Chicago to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Postmarked in Chicago, Apr 3, 1913, 3:30 PM

Addressed to:
Mrs. Chas Sisson
408 Marcy St.

Eva is getting along
all right. had the operation 
at 8:30 yesterday morning.
She is in considerable
pain but that is to be
expected for a few days.
Will write again in 
a day or two.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Isaac Baumgardner family of South Ottawa, Illinois

Isaac Baumgardner and his wife, Barbara (Shank), moved from York, Pennsylvania to South Ottawa township, LaSalle County, Illinois about 1856-1857. Their daughter Mary was almost 4 years old and baby Sarah was born as they traveled to their new home. Isaac and Barbara would welcome two sons, Albert and Harry, and another daughter, Daisy, in Ottawa. The family made many friends among the residents in the community, including the Duffield family. 

Edith A. (Duffield) Sisson kept in close contact with the family and considered them her dear friends. She received a postcard from Mrs. Baumgardner in 1912 after the death of Sarah's husband Charley. She mentions an upcoming visit from her friend "Mrs. Challis from Ulysses, Nebraska" in a 1922 letter. And when Isaac died in 1918, he had added Edith Sisson to his will to receive $100 in appreciation for the many and valuable favors in the past years (Illinois Wills and Probate Records, Ancestry.com). Learning of these relationships, it was no surprise to find the following photographs in Edith's collection. 

Sarah E (Baumgardner) Challis
Sarah Eve (Baumgardner) Challis, (1856-1942)
Photographed in Ulysses, Nebraska,
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
 Charley Challis
Charles H. Challis (1853-1912),
husband of Sarah E Baumgardner.
Photographed in Ulysses, Nebraska.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
 Guy Challis, front
Baby Challis, believed to be Guy Challis (1880-1882), son of Charles and Sarah.
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
 Guy Challis, Back
Labeled Baby Challis, believed to be Guy Challis (1880-1882), son of Charles and Sarah.
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
 Blanche Challis
Labeled Little girl Challis, Blanche E. Challis (b. 1882). Married Lloyd Jackson.
Photographed in Ulysses, Nebraska.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
Albert Baumgardner, front
Thomas Albert Baumgardner (1858-1927). Married Anna Nistel.
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
 Albert Baumgardner, back
Thomas Albert Baumgardner (1858-1927).
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
Harry Baumgardner, front
Harry P. Baumgardner (1866-1890).
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
 Harry Baumgardner, back
Harry P. Baumgardner (1866-1890).
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.

Daisy Baumgardner, front
Daisy Maude Baumgardner (1872-1948).
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
 Daisy Baumgardner, back
Daisy Maude Baumgardner (1872-1948).
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
Daisy Baumgardner
Daisy Maude Baumgardner (1872-1948). Married W S Hayward.
Photographed in Ottawa, Illinois.
From the collection of Edith Sisson.
Please contact me if you are a descendant of Isaac and Barbara Baumgardner and would like to have these photos.

Duffield/Sisson Postcards, No. 54

This next postcard from the collection of Edith (Duffield) Sisson illustrates that, in 1912, friendships endured over distance, families stuck together when times got tough, and being neighborly was the right thing to do.

Postmarked Jun 3, 7 PM. The year and post office city didn't show up.

Addressed to:
Mrs Charls Cisson

south side 
(The Sisson's lived in South Ottawa)

Ulyses Neb
Jun 2 -12
Mrs Sisson
We are still here trying to 
sell evry thing I am so tired 
of the place Sarah is going to 
live with us she must sell 
evry thing it takes time to get 
rid of it I know you are tired 
taken care of hour home but 
we did not inteng to stay so 
long but will try and come home 
midle of next week if arangements 
can be made Love to all
From Mrs Baumgardner

Mr. & Mrs. Baumgardner lived a short distance away from Edith (Duffield) and her husband Charles Sisson in Ottawa, Illinois. The Baumgardner and the Duffield children had grown up attending the same schools. Sarah Eve Baumgardner, born in 1856, had married Charles Henry Challis in 1879 and moved to Ulysses, Nebraska. Charles was the editor and publisher of the Ulysses Dispatch until his unexpected death in May of 1912. These photos of Sarah, Charles, and their children were found in Edith's collection, and I know the families kept in touch even after Sarah moved to Nebraska. She was almost nine years older than Edith, but it seems they were friends despite the difference in age. In one of Edith's letters written in 1922, she mentions that Mrs. Challis will be coming to visit.

Sarah (Baumgardner) Challis,
Photographed in Ulysses, Nebraska,
From the collection of Edith Sisson.

Sarah's parents were about 80 years old when they traveled to Ulysses to help her settle the household after her husband's death. Edith stepped in to care for their home in Ottawa while they were gone. This note tells us that Sarah was planning to go back to Ottawa to live with her parents. She probably helped her parents a great deal until their deaths. Her mother died in 1917, followed soon after by her father in 1918. After their deaths, Sarah moved to Scotts Bluff, Nebraska to live near her daughter, Blanche, and son-in-law, Lloyd Jackson. Sarah died in 1942 in Scotts Bluff and was buried next to her husband in Ulysses.

Before Mr. Baumgardner died, he made an addition to his will. His five surviving children would inherit his estate, but he also wanted to leave $100 to Edith Sisson in appreciation for the many and valuable favors in the past years.