Tag Archive for: genealogy

Wait… I have an extra Aunt?

As the Wishkah Flows
by Bethany Maines

I don’t have that many shows that rate the “I have to be home to watch” treatment (aside from Castle), but I have to admit that one of the shows that I will make time for is the show about famous people researching their family tree – “Who Do You Think You Are?” I know that the stars researching their genealogy are spoon fed the information and I know that the show is pretty much just one extended commercial for ancestory.com, but I don’t care! It suckers me in every time! The stirring saga of generations, combined with the detective work makes for storylines I love. (Yeah, I’ve watched Thorn Birds, why?)

My mother’s mother does genealogy with even more fervor than she does crosswords; she’s got us tracked back to England where some ancestor we’re connected to some how signed the Magna Carte, thus setting a precedent for Democracy and striking a blow for freedom (you know, if you were rich). So up until last weekend I thought that a TV style reveal of a deep family secret was not to be because Grandma has got all our details pretty well sorted out. But I should have remembered… that’s for her side of the family; on my Dad’s side the details are a bit fuzzy.

Dad’s mother hated her hometown of Wishkah, WA and was notoriously evasive about her past, up to not “remembering” how many brothers and sisters she had. (How do you not remember that?) Dad had poked around, but he was never able to get very far. Then last week a friend pointed me to the Washington State Digital Archives. Between the archives, ancestory.com, and familysearch.org I managed to cobble together my Dad’s family tree and uncover a few family secrets!

The biggest secret began to take shape after a week of pulling at threads, and hunting down birth dates and maiden certificates. Between the records and a few hints from other family trees on ancestory.com I began to suspect that Grandma’s mother, Daisy, had been the victim of a serious crime. When Daisy was 12 or 13 (about 1898) she was kidnapped by her 53 year old uncle and they lived on the run from posses in the wilderness near Aberdeen for nine months before he was captured. By the 1900 census Daisy was 14 and back living with her parents and her baby, Ivy, and the uncle was living in the Walla Walla State Pen. By 15, she was married to a man named Walter (my grandmother’s father) and settling down to hopefully live happily ever after, but little Ivy is nowhere to be found.

If I wrote such things in a book, my editor would tell me to tone down the melodrama and try for a little more realism! No wonder my Grandma was slightly evasive about the number of her siblings; it’s possible Daisy never even told Grandma about Ivy or her origins.

I will continue to track down my mysterious Great Aunt Ivy – I can only hope this is one mystery that won’t be lost in time.

Honoring One’s Ancestors

Years ago, my sis did our family genealogy–and was generous enough to make a book for all of us which included copies of old photos. While reading about the family line, immediately questions popped up. On my father’s side, my great-great grandfather John Crabtree at 17 married a 12 year-old-girl. This was after the Battle of New Orleans. From that time on they moved from one state to another, and having children in each one.

Finally they left Brownsville TX, and with several children aged 7 to 18, crossed the Rio Grande and from Monterrey they traveled across Mexico to Mazatlan. There they caught a steamship that took them up the coast to Monterey, CA. Because of a small pox outbreak on board ship, no one was allowed to go ashore, so in the middle of the night, the Crabtree family jumped overboard and swam ashore.

They lived in Monterey for two years, then they traveled across the San Joaquin Valley and finally settled where Springville is today. In the late 1800s they were awarded a 640 acre land grant from President Grant. I wrote an historical family saga about the family called Two Ways West which has sold wonderfully well, especially here in Springville.

Eventually, they ended up selling most of the land, thanks to being unable to pay their taxes–and the town of Springville came about.

The town park was recently redesigned and renovated by volunteers and Friday night a dedication ceremony was held. The idea was to have a Native American hand over the deed to me and my family (representing the Crabtrees)–unfortunately the Indian was there, but left when the ceremony didn’t take place on time, so the whole thing began with me. I then handed it over to the next family who actually owned the parcel the park is on today, and then to the next person who owned it, and so on, until finally the deed was given to the town.

I managed to convince different members of my family to show up for the occasion and stand up with me, my next oldest daughter, her oldest daughter and her daughter (four generations of us) and my son’s daughter along with my youngest daughter’s son who now lives with us. It only took a few minutes, but I was pretty proud of my family.

There was a huge crowd (for Springville) because they had a concert in the park immediately afterward with dancing. It was the first time anyone was allowed on the newly planted grass. Folks brought folding chairs, picnic suppers, etc. and made an evening of it.

That’s the kind of excitement that goes on in the little town I live in. Saturday night, hubby and I took tickets for Cellars and Chefs another outdoor event held in the parking lot of the local inn. Seven wineries and about the same number of restaurants were on hand with samples. Most people managed to make their evening meal out of the offerings. It’s an annual fund raiser for the Chamber of Commerce. I belong but don’t do a whole lot, so this was my contribution. Hubby just got roped in like he does for most everything–but had a good time anyway.