Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Memory-Grandma Osgood's collections

Ever since I can remember, my Grandma Osgood (my mom's mom) was a collector. I don't know if she was earlier in her life, but I sure do remember her enjoying her collectibles. But I have many memories of Grandma's various collections. This is a photo of Grandma on Christmas in 1976. You can see a gift on her lap that she is getting ready to open. Perhaps it is going to add to one of her collections?

For a long time, it was understood that Grandma collected frogs. All kinds of frogs. Wind up frogs that would hop across the table, frogs that would swim in your bathtub, glass frogs, stuffed frogs, you name it. I don't know why she liked to collect them, but she did. I remember going through her frog collection with her when we were visiting in the summer. So whenever we would see a frog item, it had Grandma's name written all over it. At some point as I got older, somehow word got out that Grandma was kind of tired of frogs.

The next collection I remember was her collection of cartoon glasses. Hanna Barbera cartoons, to be exact. I seem to vaguely recall that there was some kind of promotion at a local store or fast food place that got this collection going. Mom told me over the Thanksgiving holiday it was in soap boxes. They were great glasses, perfect for that one soda we were allowed each day from her vending machine in the back. She had all the characters: Bugs Buggy; Daffy Duck; Pepe LePeu; Speedy Gonzales; Elmer Fudd; and that rooster whose name escapes me now. After Grandma died the brothers and sisters (my aunts and uncles) got together and divided up some of the personal property. Mom came home with a couple of these glasses. Sometimes when I'm at her house and I'm helping myself to a drink, I see them in the cupboard and a flash of memory of grandma goes up. It's nice. Without even knowing about this post, Mom had them out on Thanksgiving for us to use.

The collection I most identify with was Grandma's doll collection. I have a bit of one of these myself. ;-) I remember in the early 1980's being enchanted with her Prince Charles/Lady Diana wedding set. Jr. High girls like me were enthralled with Lady Di and her story of becoming a princess. Another one that jumps to my mind is Scarlett O'Hara. It was around Jr. High that I became a history buff, and the Civil War was one of my favorite subjects. The glamour of the Southern Belles, of course, was enchanting to me as well. So once I saw the movie, "Gone With the Wind" I fell in love with Grandma's Scarlett doll. (I fell in love with the movie too, its probably my all time favorite picture.) Scarlett was dressed as she was when she is going to the Wilkes' barbecue/ball. Grandma told me that "Gone With the Wind" was a movie that she and Grandpa went out to see on a date. That made it even more special to me.

She had other dolls too. I remember mom getting her a Madame Alexander doll that looked like Betsy Ross. When I went to the Provence region of France for the first time, I got her a local doll called a Santon. Grandma kept most of the smaller dolls in a cupboard with some wavy glass over it. So you couldn't really see the dolls unless she would open up the case and show you. It was a highlight of a trip to Idaho to have Grandma display her dolls for us.

There probably were other collections too, but these were the ones I most remember.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Guy's Grandfather, John Graham.

Another gem in the mail from the Missouri Historical Society. It's a death announcement for my 3rd great grandfather, John Guy Graham. It gives me the perfect opportunity to share a little bit about what I know about him.

He was born in Wythe, Virginia, in 1811, the son of Robert Craig Graham and Catherine Crockett. As mentioned in a previous post, Robert and Catherine moved their family of 7 children (ranging in ages of the eldest, John, at 22 to the youngest, Mary, being about 3 years old) to Missouri in 1833 with a few household possessions. The overland trip of over 560 miles took the family forty-two days. (That's about 13 miles a day) They spent the winter in Boone County and later moved on to Johnson County.

John Guy married Nancy Hobson in 1838 when he was 27 years old and she was 16. Nancy's father, Joseph Hobson, gave the couple a 6 year old slave girl named Ann as a wedding present. I found an 1850 slave schedule for the Federal Census that shows John Graham as owning a 16 year old female slave. Family lore says that Ann had 2 children of her own and continued to live in a little house on one corner of the farm until her children were grown and married. John and Nancy had 12 children, 11 of which grew to adulthood.

According to a County History of Johnson County published in 1895, at the time of his death, John owned 540 acres of land. He possessed the "sturdy and fearless qualities necessary to the pioneer, and met all misfortunes bravely. His death on July 3, 1878 was felt to be a public loss and his old friends and neighbors still hold his memory dear." I wonder what misfortunes they encountered? The County History does mention John and his brother, Samuel, helping their father clear the land of trees and farm it. There were also conflicts with the Osage Indians in 1837 and the "Mormon troubles" in 1838. Of course, in his elder years, the nation was held in the grip of the Civil War. It was particularly brutal in Missouri, a border state that had both Confederate and Union units-not to mention guerrilla gangs with shifting allegiances.

The Journal-Democrat newspaper from Warrensburg, Missouri printed this on July 12, 1878 on page 3, column 7:

"DEATHS-GRAHAM-At his residence near Centreview, in this county, on Wednesday, the 3d inst.. John G. Graham, in the 68th year of his age. Mr. Graham, (or "Uncle Guy" as he was familiarly called) was one of the oldest citizens of Johnson County, having resided on the farm where he died exactly forty years, on the day of his death. His preeminent virtues may be epitomized in the statement that Johnson county never had a better citizen. We hope next week to publish a biographical sketch of the good man, from the pen of Rev. S.H. McElvaine, who is well qualified for the task."
It is interesting that he was known as "Uncle Guy." We know John had siblings who all had their own families. There must have been a lot of nieces and nephews around at the end of his life for him to be known by such a nickname. Or perhaps he was just the kind of person that everyone felt a connection to that the moniker spread.

I am excited at the prospect of a larger biographical sketch of John. I plan on contacting the reference specialist there who found this for me to see if she can find the article mentioned in this death notice.

  • Yet another thanks goes to the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website for the photograph in this post. One of their volunteers in Johnson County made several trips to local cemeteries to get dozens of photos of Graham gravesites.
  • The County History mentioned is available on the Missouri Digital Heritage website. (A fantastic site, by the way). The book also gives some information on other Graham's who lived in the County. It is called "Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis Counties Missouri. Containing Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the Counties. Together with Biographies and Portraits of all the Presidents of the United States." Chicago, Chapman Publishing Co. 1895

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Happy Announcement

As a member of the Missouri Historical Society, I am able to request newspaper announcements at a reduced rate from the Society. I got a copy of the marriage announcement for my great grandparents in the mail today that I wanted to share with everyone:

Warrensburg Journal-Democrat
March 4, 1904, page 4, column 3

"GRAHAM-SHIPP-On Thursday evening of last week, Mr. Guy Graham to Miss Jennie Shipp, both of Centreview. The ceremony took place at the home of the bride in Centreview and was performed by Rev. J.W. Sullivan. Only relatives and a few immediate friends were present. The groom is a son of Judge R.B. Graham of Centreview township and the bride is a daughter of Prof. W.L. Shipp, county superintendent of schools. The young couple expect to leave for the west soon to make their future home. The best wishes of a host of Missouri friends go with them."

This is a scanned image of their marriage license. Now if someone would find a picture of them on their wedding day and send it on to me..... (hint, hint!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The legal records of Robert Craig Graham

The first of "my" Graham's to come to America was Robert Graham. He came from County Down, Ireland around 1774. His son was also named Robert Graham. Robert Jr. is my 4th great grandfather. He was born during the Revoluntionary War while his family lived in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. They soon moved to Southwest Virginia, to what would become Wythe County. (Incidentally, there still are many Graham's in the area.)

Robert Jr. married into the Crockett family. His wife was Catherine Crockett. There is some family lore that Catherine is related to the famous "Davy Crockett." This may be true, but there were a lot of Crocketts around at the time. I haven't done exhaustive research on this connection, but haven't found any direct relationship there. Still, it would be fun to nail it down sometime in the future.

Robert and Catherine had several tracts of land and there are still many documents in the basement of the courthouse in Wythe, Virginia. What got me started on this angle was a piece of family lore that said Robert was well off financially until he co-signed a note for a friend. He ended up having to make good on the debt, which ruined him financially. He felt that Virginia was no place for a poor man so he took his wife and six children and set out for Missouri around 1834. I thought it would be neat to verify this by looking at some of the recorded documents in Wythe County.

Through a wonderful service called "Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness" a kindhearted volunteer spent several hours and a couple trips to the basement of the Wythe County Courthouse to make copies of the documents that had Robert and Catherine's name on them.

It is good I have a legal background! Reading these old documents was a real exercise, even after being accustomed to legal jargon. Property never was my favorite class in law school. But perhaps if I had to read legal descriptions like this, I would have liked it better. Robert and Catherine are selling 53 acres of land in 1829 to a man named Jezreel Harmon for $62. But check out this legal description (I've highlighted the legal description part) :

This Indenture made this seventh day of February one thousand eight hundred and twenty nine between Robert Graham & Catharine his Wife of the County of Washington & Jazreel Harmon of the County of Wythe both of the state of Virginia witnefseth that the said Graham for and in consideration of the sum of Sixty two Dollars to him in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath this day bargained and sold and by there presents do bargain and sell unto the said Jazreel Harmon a certain tract or parcel of land lying and situated on the waters of the north fork of Holstein River and Bounded as followeth to wit Beginning at a poplar corner of said Harmon land conveyed to him from Solomon McDaniel and from thence S. 72 ½ ° E 100 poles to a Lynn & Beach S. 75° E. 140 poles to a Cucumber N. 14° E 58 poles to a sugar tree S 17° E 62 poles to a beach South 30 poles to a Sugar tree N 72° W. 70 poles to a beach West 47 poles to a beach on the top of a ridge & thence N 72° W. 126 to a stake poles Thence N. 15° E 28 poles to the Beginning with all and singular the appurtenances thereto belonging to have and to hold the said Tract or parcel of land containing fifty three acres by survey be the same more or lefs with its appurtenances to the sole ure and behoof of him the said Jazreel Harman & his heirs and the said Robert Graham & Catharine his Wife for themselves & their heirs the said land free from the claim or claims of all and every person or persons whatsoever unto the said Jazreel Harmon and his heirs forever.
I know its hard to read--the whole thing is a continous run on sentence! Plus, there are spelling conventions that have changed since then. (Like using an "f" in place of "s" in some spots). But isn't it interesting how they reference the area not by metes and bounds or by lot numbers like our modern deeds do. No, they walk you around the property starting at a poplar tree by a river, to a sugar tree, etc.

I've got several documents that this angel/volunteer copied for me. One of the latest in time (1833) is between Robert and Catherine and their son John G. Graham for $1. In it, they give John (also in my direct line), all of Catherine's interest in the estate of her uncle, Robert Sayers.

Someday I would like to travel to Wythe County for myself and be able to peruse the originals!