One thing this project has taught me is how lucky I am to exist. Writing down stories of ancestors who survived wars, unfortunate accidents, and of ancestors who came from all over the globe, it truly is a miracle that I was born.
I am constantly amazed that my parents even met. My dad’s family has been in the United States for hundreds of years, traveling the Oregon Trail and settling in the middle of Oregon. My mom’s family, on the other hand, traveled to the United States at the turn of the century, from Germany and Canada. Part of her family settled in the Midwest, while others traveled across Canada and settled in Washington.
My maternal grandparents met in San Diego, where my grandfather would dock while in the Merchant Marines. It was only after the war when he could not find a job in Seattle when he moved his family to Oregon. My parents met at college.
It really is a miracle that everything fell into place. Thousands of ancestors had to be in the right place at the right time. One death, one movement to a different place, and things would have been totally different.
So today I am thankful for each of my ancestors. For the ones who left home and came to a new country and the ones who stayed close to home. Every one of my ancestors was right where they were supposed to be.
I have written quite a bit about my great-grandfather Chester Crowe, but the most surprised I have been in my research was learning where he died.
Chester and Myrtle were big outdoors people and would go camping at all times of the year, something that is unusual for Oregon. And it was during one of these camping trips where on December 2, 1972, Chester died of a heart attack. They were camping in the Santiam Wilderness, in the Cascade Mountains.
Even more surprising, the box for hour of death on his death certificate is marked with a question mark. Myrtle woke up and found that Chester had died in his sleep. He was pronounced dead at 10 AM.
And they weren’t camping in an RV; they were in a tent. My mom assumes they were in a campground, as Myrtle didn’t drive, but there is nothing nearby now.
Oregon camping is usually limited to the summer, so seeing this on his death certificate was rather a shock.
I had a hard time finding an ancestor with facial hair, as I seem to come from a long line of clean-shaven individuals. The few I found, I had already written posts about.
I did find one mustache worth noting, that of my 2nd great uncle Neil McCallum.
Neil was born 12 October 1869 in Grey, Ontario, Canada, three years before his brother (and my great-grandfather) William. Neil was the sixth child of Thomas and Margaret.
Neil lost his mother at the age of 7 and his father at 16. He spent some time living in the United States around the turn of the century, even marrying his wife Margaret Stoughton in Eden Prarie, Minnesota on 12 January 1899.
Soon after they married Neil and Maggie settled in Vancouver, Canada, where they had three girls: Maud (born 14 June 1900), Bessie (born 12 November 1901), and Mabel (born 19 September 1903).
My grandpa was close with his cousins Maud and Bessie, visiting them often, even later in life. My mom recalls many visits to Vancouver throughout her childhood. I wonder if my grandpa even named my mom after his aunt Margaret.
This is a short but sweet post, mainly to show off Neil’s great mustache.
Today I would like to share the story of my 2nd great uncle, the brother of my great-grandma Myrtle, Lester Erwin Sanford.
Lester was born 5 September 1896 in Woodburn, Oregon, the oldest of the eleven Sanford children. The family moved around a lot when Lester was growing up: as far north as Yakima, Washington, and south as San Jose, California, and even for a time along the Oregon Coast at Bandon.
Lester served in World War I, leaving Hoboken, New Jersey on 24 January 1918 bound for Le Harve, France. On 5 February the ship he was traveling on, the Tuscania, was hit by a German torpedo. The Tuscania took over four hours to sink, at 10 PM. 230 were lost, 201 American troops and the rest crew. It was the first ship carrying American crews to be sunk. It wasn’t until 11 February that Lester’s mother Mabel was informed her son survived.
The entry from Lester’s diary, 5 February 1918:
Everyone ordered on deck with life belts on, as we were nearing the grave yard. had dinner, went back on deck, were told any one seeing a submarine, would be given $25.00 by the Captain of the boat. Had a boxing & wrestling match as the sea was smoother, was 5:00 p.m. so went down to my bunk to get my towel & soap & washed, was just combing my hair, when I heard an awful explosion, the lights all went out. we all scrambled on deck “saying take your time.” then I realized we were hit, we were in the Irish Sea between Ireland & Scotland it was 5:50 p.m. when we were hit and was pitch dark now so we fell in our places and the boats were lowered. my boat come down and before I could get in, it was full of other fellows that didn’t belong there. boats samashed to peices on the side of the boat and ropes broke. it idn’t look good to me so I stayed on board. men were jumping over board and were never seen again, men were floting around drowned. it was sure a terrible sight. so in about 2 hrs & 15 minuets three torpedoe boat distroyers came along side of us and we slide down ropes on them. I went down the Star Board Side on to a boat called H.M. Pigeon and we left for Port. we lost most of our clothes. we arrived at a place called Brunclanie, nearly frose from being wet, we marched to an Irish camp in Ireland 4:00 a.m. in a hurry.
Among the survivors with Lester was Harry Randall Truman, who died on Mt. St. Helens during the eruption on 1980 (Harry is in all the footage prior to the eruption, and quite a character here in the PNW).
The rest of his diary entries are pretty mundane. Lester spent some time in Dublin and London before being sent to France, where he dug trenches and cut logs during his time. It does not appear that he saw any combat.
Lester returned to Oregon and on 8 February 1920 married Myra Lena Roberts. They had one daughter, Mildred.
Lester went to work for Southern Pacific Railroad as an Engineer. He was at work in Klamath Falls, Oregon on 19 September 1941 when there was an accident. The account of what happened was published the next day in The Klamath News:
According to railroad officials, the heavy freight, pulled by a huge Mallet mountain engine with the cab in front, hit the end boxcar, loaded with box shook, of a string of six standing in front of the express office building at 12:50 a.m. The impact shattered the cab and burst locomotive steam pipes which sprayed live steam on the three men, all of whom were in the Mallet control room. There was no one aboard the boxcar.
Lester was taken to the hospital but died a few hours later. He was survived by his wife, daughter, and both his parents. He was 45.
And thank you to everyone who shared information about Lester on Ancestry! As I have written before, my grandma never mentioned many family stories, and this was one of them.
The thing about coming from a large family is if there is something special about your family, something that isn’t a photograph or something that can be duplicated, only one person can have it. It’s just a fact.
My great-grandma Ida Borchert Gall was the oldest of six kids. Before my grandma Pauline Gall McCallum died, her aunt Katherine (Ida’s youngest sister) gifted her the family bible, which my mom then inherited. I do not know why Katherine didn’t pass it down to her direct descendants.
However, this has created a conflict within the family. Others are upset that they were not given the Bible, while my mom has no problem sharing the content, but does not want to give it up.
The Bible is stamped from Cincinnati, where the last four children were born and the family lived between 1887 and 1897. The pages are coming loose, and there are some momentos (mostly written in German) tucked inside.
The Bible is nothing special: it is written in German and is starting to fall apart. It does list the names and birth dates of all the children, including Katherine’s descendants.
I love this heirloom and being able to see my great-grandma’s handwriting. We don’t have much from her side of the family, so this is really special.
Thanks for reading! With my new menu, on the homepage, you can click on blog and it will dropdown 52ancestors, so all the back postings are easy to find!
My dad was a huge sports fan. Growing up, he played football and wrestled, but his true love was baseball.
His family would go to San Francisco (from Portland) to watch Giants games, but he was always a Dodgers fan.
However, as us kids grew up, our family rooted for the Seattle Mariners (except my brother, who from some strange reason is a Cubs fan). We attended many games at the Kingdome, which was a giant concrete building filled with astroturf and no sunlight.
I remember clearly one night my dad coming home from work and taking me down to Ticketmaster, to try to get tickets to see the Mariners play the Yankees the next day. I was 16.
Since it was last minute, the only tickets we could get for the six of us (my parents, me, my brother, my sister, and my grandma) was the very top row of the 300 level. Right up against the concrete wall. Literally, we sat in bleacher seats and leaned against the wall of the Kingdome.
I do not remember who won the game (I actually had to look it up, but the Mariners lost 5-3, you can see the box score HERE if interested), but I do remember clearly getting the tickets with my dad, running down the concrete ramps with my sister to get player autographs, and how horrible the green turf was. (It was bad. Really really bad.)
The Kingdome was replaced by Safeco Field in 1999, and I remember attending two games there with my dad: Ichiro’s 1st bobblehead day, and Edgar Martinez Day, where the Mariners honored Edgar at his second-to-last game as a player.
After my dad died, it was hard for me to watch the Mariners for a while, but I am back to being a hardcore fan, even going to Opening Day this year with my mom.
So thanks Dad, for instilling my love of baseball. And calling me at work when Edgar retired so I could listen to the press conference over the phone (ah, pre-smartphone days). And although my dad has been gone 11 years, he hasn’t missed a single playoff appearance. Oh, the trials of a Mariners fan.
Thanks for reading my ode to my dad and my Mariners. 🙂
This week I would like to share the story of my 3x great-grandma Sarah Jane Thrush, who was born in the tenth month, October!
Sarah was born on 1 October 1844 in Lee County, Iowa. She was the second born daughter of John Thrush and Elizabeth Trimble. I wrote about John previously, which you can read HERE.
Sarah is one of my pioneer ancestors. Her family traveled to California in 1853, and a few years later settled in Oregon. On 1 September 1857, Sarah married Richard Crow in Lorane, Oregon. She was only 12 years old.
A year later she gave birth to her first child, Cynthia. Over the next 19 years, Sarah gave birth to 15 (!) children, including her sixth child, my 2x great-grandpa Benjamin. Remarkably, all of her children survived infancy, although she had a daughter die at 16.
Her obituary said she was referred to as “Aunt Jane” by her friends.
Sarah died on 17 September 1936, at the age of 91. She outlived nine of her children and was survived by twenty grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren, and eight great-great-grandchildren.
I imagine that she must have been a strong woman, having traveled across the country and surviving a marriage so young, and carrying so many children. Sarah outlived her husband by twenty years, and her son Benjamin by just over a month.
Sarah is buried with her husband Richard in the Crow Family Cemetary in Lorane.
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