52 Ancestors: Storms


Many of the ancestors on my tree led remarkable lives, but only one had a tragic death. He managed to cross the country in a wagon train, mine for gold, and settle in a small town, only to die a sudden death in a landslide.

My 4x great-grandfather John Thrush was born in 1819 in Dauphin, Pennsylvania.

John Thrush 1820-1890
John Thrush

On 11 May 1840, he married Elizabeth Trimble in Clark, Missouri. They would live in Iowa for a while, where my 3x great grandmother Sarah was born in 1844.

thrush trimble marriage
John Thrush and Elizabeth Trimble’s marriage record.

According to information found on Find A Grave, the family traveled by to California in 1854, in search for gold. Their daughter Elizabeth was born in California in 1855.

The Early Oregonian Index states the family arrived in Oregon in 1856, three years before statehood. On the 1860, the family lived in Canyonville, south of Roseburg.

thrush 1860 canyonville
1860 United States Federal Census in Douglas County, Oregon.

They settled in Randolph by 1870, a town along the southern Oregon coast, located about seven miles north of modern-day Bandon.

thrush 1870 census
1870 United States Federal Census in the county of Coos, Oregon, showing the movement of the Thrush family via places of birth.

On  1 February 1890, a landslide occurred in the town of Randolph. The book Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties, Or: Heroic Deeds and Thrilling Adventures of the Early Settlers, by Orvil Dodge (published in 1898) recounted the event. According to this history, at three o’clock in the afternoon a landslide occurred, crushing the Thrush house and carrying it into the town. John Thrush and his granddaughter Mary Russell were killed. He is buried in the Hultin Thrush Cemetery on the former Thrush property.

John Thrush

Randolph now considered a ghost town, with no remaining structures. The post office closed in 1893. According to my research, the cemetery still remains, but takes some effort to get to and the graves are unmarked, an unremarkable resting spot for a remarkable man.

If you are interested, you can find the rest of my 52 Ancestors posts my clicking the tag at the top of the post.

Until next time,






52 Ancestors: Taxes


Quite a bit of my mom’s family tree has been very taxing for me. She knew the names of her grandparents, but after that the information was pretty limited. She is only a second-generation American, and it can be difficult finding information in other countries.

For the longest time (I am talking years), I was stuck on Nathan Dayton Stoughton, my 3x great-grandfather. I had found him on some Canadian censuses, but never U.S. ones.

He was born around 1800 in Herkimer, New York, but at some point before 1834 moved to Canada. He had seven children, including my great-great-grandma Margaret.

A few weeks ago I was poking around on Ancestry and checking out some DNA matches, when I saw a Stoughton name. This person has a Stoughton ancestor who was born around the same time and in the same place as mine, and upon a little research, I discovered they were siblings! This unlocked a whole new branch of my tree, and I finally had a name for Nathan’s father: William.

One of the ways I checked to see if William Stoughton was in the area and of the right age was to check both the census and tax records. For the 1800 and 1810 censuses, only the head of household was listed, and there is a William Stoughton in Herkimer, New York. The census lists one white male under the age of 10, which presumably would have been Nathan.

1800 census
1800 United States Federal Census.

The New York Tax Assessment Rolls from 1799 and 1800 also list William Stoughton living in Herkimer. He is listed as owning a home and lot.

tax 1800
1800 New York Tax Assessment Rolls of Real Estate and Personal Taxes.

He is also listed on the same tax roll in 1804.

On the 1810 census, William Stoughton is still listed in the area, now with one white male aged 10 to 16, and two under the age of 10. I assume that since 10 years had passed, Nathan would now be 10 or 11.

1810 census
1810 United States Federal Census.

Uncovering this line has been important to me. Having the name Stoughton led to my relatives (incorrectly) assuming direct lineage from William Stoughton, judge for the Salem Witch Trials. This had been repeated over and over, but since he had no children, a direct line is impossible.

Judge William Stoughton. Not my direct ancestor.

My Stoughton ancestors moved to Canada. William died in 1845 in Picton, Ontario, and Nathan died in 1886 in Arnprior, Ontario. It would be Nathan’s grandson William McCallum who would immigrate to the United States.

That’s all I have for this week’s prompt!

If you are interested, you can find the rest of my 52 Ancestors posts my clicking the tag at the top of the post.

Until next time,



52 Ancestors: The Old Homestead


The closest thing to an Old Homestead is my maternal grandparent’s house. My grandpa died when I was 4, and my grandma when I was 9, but yet I remember many things about their house. My strongest memories involve the kitchen and the large yard.

William and Pauline McCallum lived in the country, about 30 minutes from our house, in the house my mom grew up in.

The McCallum house in the snow.

I remember their house being green with white trim. Although they had a front door, we always entered through the shop alongside the garage. We spent a lot of time outside in the summer.

Green with a white trim and a gravel driveway.

They had a sprawling yard with a large garden and a barn.

The barn.

I would pick dandelions in the yard and present them to my grandma, who would always place them in a vase in the kitchen window.

My grandma by her kitchen sink. The window above it looked out to the front yard.

They had a large garden as well, growing all sorts of things.

My grandpa and me. I wish the cabbages in my yard looking like that!
My grandparents in their garden, 1976.
Myself, Mom, sister, and Grandma (holding my brother), 1985.

As she got older, my grandma became a hoarder. She had stacks and stacks of newspapers in her living room, so that room was always off limits. After she died, we spent weekends there for months, and as stuff was removed, I was able to see the details I missed. I especially remember the wooden beams across the living room (and watching “Captain Planet” on the old tv in the room on Saturday mornings.)

My mom practicing piano under the wood beams.

The house and property was sold as part of the estate, and now it is a part of a housing development. In the last couple years I went by for the first time since it was sold, and was shocked to see the small yard that was left.

Thank you for reading! This post has inspired me to better categorize my photos and scan them! I know there are so many more photos I would love to preserve.

If you are interested, you can find the rest of my 52 Ancestors posts my clicking the tag at the top of the post.

Until next time,



52 Ancestors: Maiden Aunt


This was another tough one for me. I debated telling one family story, but instead decided to take this prompt in a different way. Let me tell you a little about my maternal grandpa’s aunt, Minnie Moore.

When I say little, I mean it. We know very little about her. However, she was always a presence in our home. A portrait of her hung in the stairwell of our home, so every time you went down the stairs she greeted you. Obviously she was important to my great-grandma; she had this portrait of her and passed it down.

Portrait of Minnie Moore.

Minnie was born 15 November 1876 in Perth, Ontario, Canada, the second daughter of Alexander and Catherine Moore. She was two years younger than my great-grandma Etta. In 1882, their brother Lawrence joined the family, and in 1884 their brother James was born, but died shortly after. The next month, Catherine died.

Alexander remarried two years later, and they had eight more children.

Minnie’s trail, however, has gone cold. Last week I found her on Find A Grave, buried in the same town she was born. She died in 1914.

The glass on the frame broke, and the portrait has sustained a little damage, but is still in good condition.

I wish I knew more about her. I do not know if she was maiden or married, or anything about her life. But I know of her face, thanks to the portrait. I will continue to search for more records on her, in order to tell her story.

You can find all my 52 Ancestors post through the tag above.

As always, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can also email me: familyhistoryfood [at] gmail.com.

I also have a vintage site: familyhistoryfood.etsy.com.

Until next time,



Easter Cookies

Mom's Easter CookiesThe most unique cookie my mom makes is for Easter, a recipe she pulled out of The Oregonian in the early 1990’s. So good slightly warm, with the chocolate a little gooey in the middle, and good cold, with the softness of the dough against the hard chocolate.


EASTER EGG COOKIES: makes about 2 dozen


1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons evaporated milk
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup margarine (it really needs to be margarine, butter changes the consistency)
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 dozen small chocolate eggs (we usually use the Hershey’s creamy ones)

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 T. evaporated milk, 1 t. vanilla. Mix well.

Cream margarine and remaining sugar in a separate bowl (I used a stand mixer). Mix in remaining vanilla.

Add mixture in the small bowl to the margarine mixture. Mix to combine. Add flour. Dough will be stiff. (You can add 1/2 teaspoon of cream if necessary.)

Wrap 1 Tablespoon of dough around each egg, covering egg completely. Space 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until set but not brown.

When they bake, they look like eggs, with a chocolate yolk center!

Enjoy and Happy Easter!



How Do You Record Bad News?

Recently I shared the story of finding out my great-grandfather had served time in prison. It’s a story I find sad, but also a great anecdote. For me, it was a great find and something I had never heard.

However, only after I shared the story I wondered if another one of his decendents would have taken offense to my sharing the story. (For the record, no one has.) I then began to think about hearing bad stories about someone on your tree, and if they should be shared.

A couple years ago someone reached out to me on Ancestry. We had a close match through DNA, but she couldn’t find a common relative. I looked as well, and after exchanging a few messages, our communication fizzled.

Cut to a few months later, when I received another message from her. She had discovered that the man who raised her mother was not in fact her biological father, and thought she had uncovered our link: she thought her grandfather and my great-grandfather were the same person. This claim threw me for a loop. I had never heard any stories, and I was particularly close to my grandma, and I became defensive. Not defensive towards her, but to other family members towards the situation. I didn’t want to believe my great-grandfather would have done such a thing.

It turned out her hunch was wrong, and she was looking at the wrong branch. I was relieved.

When I consider these stories, I wonder just how much family history should be shared. I know a story of a family member, something she spoke of, but I wonder if sharing it might hurt someone else. Is it something I don’t record, because someone else may be offended?

So I want to know, what would you do? Do I share the story, or keep it private? All the individuals directly involved have passed, but I would hate to upset other family members.


52 Ancestors: Misfortune


One of my favorite family history finds was a newspaper article about my great-grandfather being sentenced to prison.

No one in my family knew this. Had my dad known, he would have carried his mugshot around in his wallet and shown it to everyone he met. Some of my dad’s cousin’s kids sent messages went I posted the information on Ancestry, surprised by the development.

Dallas Eby was born on 19 August 1884 in Yakima, Washington, one of nine kids. Dallas lost his father David when he was only 5, and the family lived in various spots throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho as he grew up.

One day I was plugging names into the internet, and came across this:

morning olympian
From “The Morning Olympian,” 21 June 1903.

I never would have found this without looking at newspaper sites. I had never heard a story or rumor about this. So I set out to find more. I emailed the Washington State Archives, and was able to obtain his prison records! They even included a mugshot, one of only 3 known pictures of Dallas.

Dallas maeby mugshot
Dallas Eby mugshot, 1903.

Dallas was convicted of grand larceny for stealing a horse, along with his brother Jesse and a friend.

dallas prison
Handwritten information about Dallas Eby.

These records gave me such insight into Dallas, more than I had found prior or have since.

dallas discharged
Portion of his discharge paperwork.

The information about his scars and missing a portion of his missing thumb helps give a better sense of his build. And the picture is priceless: it is the clearest of the photos we have, and I see so much of my brother and dad in him.

I find this to be a sad period for Dallas. He served 10 months in the Washington State Penitentiary. I wonder how he suffered the injuries listed in his discharge paperwork, if they occurred in prison or before. But having these documents provides invaluable information for our family, which is an upside to this misfortune.

This also shows you never know what you will find on your tree, or were you will find information on your ancestors! Thanks for allowing me to share this story of misfortune.

You can find all my 52 Ancestors post through the tag below.


Until next time,