Saturday, December 12, 2009

"No One Would Want to Hear About Me..." - Ardis Cynthia Hutchens Waddoups Ruffell

When asked by her daughter why she never wrote a personal history or journal, Ardis answered, "No one would want to hear about me..." With forty-seven descendants and counting, how wrong she was!
Ardis Cynthia Hutchens was born almost at the turn of the century - 20 Oct 1899 in Ogden, Weber County, Utah, to Joseph Arthur Hutchens and Mary Lucina Fife. She was big sister to two brothers, Arthur (1901) and Joseph William (1908). No real letters or diaries were found for her, but we know a lot about her from her daughter. Ardis was a talented seamstress and enjoyed embroidery and lace crochet. Some of her beautiful pieces have survived and been preserved. As a young woman, Ardis was trained as a millner (hat designer) and had an opportunity to study in France, which she turned down to stay with her family. She made her own graduation dress at the age of 15.

In 1920 Ardis married a young veteran of the First World War from the next
county over, Omer Waddoups. One year and sixteen days later they welcomed their only daughter into the world, Mary. Omer worked on his father's farm and Ardis kept house until tragedy struck like lightning. Off on a fall hunting trip with friends, Omer was accidentally shot with his own gun and Ardis found herself a widow with an eight month-old baby. (See "Corporal Waddoups, World War I Veteran" blog entry 6 Sep 2009.) Family sources say that Ardis was never satisfied that Omer's death was truly an accident. Ardis went home to live with her parents in Ogden, Utah, to raise her daughter.

In 1928 Ardis married a second time to New Zealand immigrant, Heber Thomas Ruffell. Heber's sisters did not approve of his match with a woman who was already "burdened" with a child, but Heber paid them no mind. He was a wonderful father to eight year-old Mary, and a year later they enjoyed a daughter of their own, Edith. Edith remembers her mother as a patient woman. She rarely raised her voice and found humor in stressful situations. Stressful situations did not cease to come though. Ardis' youngest daughter had some medical difficulties and it was recommended that the girl live in a warmer climate. Uprooting the family was difficult, so they settled on having Ardis and Edith live in Arizona for a time while Mary and her new husband move in with Heber. It was early in 1941, and Mary kept house for her father and husband while Ardis was away. Soon, though, Mary was expecting and Ardis and Edith came back to await the first grandchild. Mary didn't make it. In November of 1941, Mary was delivered of her first son, but due to what is now considered medical malpractice, the doctor's mistakes ended Mary's young life. Ardis and her family had to take things in stride. Mary's husband died one year later, and due to the age of the paternal grandmother, Ardis and Heber took on the care of their much loved grandson. He knew them as "Mom" and "Dad" and the family was very close. Eventually the family moved to California - land of sunshine and opportunity. Ardis lived to see six of her great-grandchildren before her death in 1977. Those great-grandchildren remembered trips to Disneyland, rides on Grandma's wheelchair, and most of all, knowing that they were always welcome and loved. Each of Ardis' descendants long to hear more about a woman who kept a family together, in love and through loss.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Three Times a Bride: Orpha POLLEY

Orpha POLLEY (POLLY or POLLAY) was born 31 Aug 1804 in Cayuga County, New York, to parents we are still trying to prove. She died 23 Mar 1858 in Oakfield, Genesee County, New York and is possibly buried in Chili, Monroe County, New York. She married (first) Charles Boss VALLETTE on 21 May 1821 in Locke, Cayuga County, New York. He was born 9 Oct 1799 in Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and died there 10 Jun 1835. She married (second) Norman TULLAR in about 1839 or 1840, probably in Genesee County. He died sometime between 1840 and 1846. She married (third) Josiah HOWELL on 29 Jan 1846 in Batavia, Genesee County. He died aged 59 years on 27 Aug 1847 and is buried in Chili, Monroe County, New York.

Orpha apparently had relatives in the Cayuga area, her Uncle Warren and his wife Susannah (Vallette) Rowley. The exact relationship between Warren Rowley and Orpha is unknown. While she was living with them in 1821 her Aunt Susannah’s nephew, Charles Boss Vallette, came to visit. Orpha and Charles married in Locke that spring. They attended the First Congregational Church of Locke, of which her Uncle Warren was a founding member. Charles’ exact occupation is unknown, but it seems may have been involved with fancy weaving like Orpha’s brothers and half-brothers. Charles’ brother William may have also been a weaver, advertising his talents in a Berkshire County newspaper. Regardless of his profession, Charles seems to have needed to travel for work. While Charles was away Orpha continued to live in Locke, possibly with her aunt and uncle. A letter he wrote to her in 1830 finds him back home with his parents in Stockbridge. He mentions a coverlet that they sold at a premium of four dollars. He seems to have been concerned about the neighborhood in Locke and was considering moving his family. He said, “…I want you to write to me when you get this. I want to know something about the people in Locke, you say that it is seems as though the Devil was let loose among the neighbors. I think if Locke has got to be such a place, we had best not stay there. You tell of husbands whipping wives and wives whipping husbands, this sounds like our Irish neighbors here. Tell our friends if they are in this quarrel not to let the sun go down on their wrath.”

Charles and Orpha welcomed their first daughter, Maria Elizabeth, into their home on 8 Jan 1826 and then a son, James Madison, on 9 Aug 1832. As they were expecting their third child, Charles’ health began to fail, and he moved his little family to his native home of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to live with his parents. Some of the family felt Charles was lazy rather than sick. Contrary to their opinions, he died on 10 Jun 1835, only 35 years old. Orpha was only 30. Their youngest daughter, Sarah, was only 9 months old at the time of her father’s death, having been born in Stockbridge on 27 Oct 1834. It was reported that Charles’ Aunt Sarah Smith, who seemed to believe that Charles was truly ill, insisted on a post-mortem exam. The exam revealed that he had died of “valvular ossification of the Heart.” How were Orpha and her children cared for then? The family reports that there was a feeling at the time that a woman without means could not be responsible for the care of her own children. Under-aged children were often “farmed out” or apprenticed out through the Guardianship courts after the death of a father, especially if a financial provision had not been made for them. Orpha’s granddaughter relates, “…So Maria was bound out to Mrs. Sexton she was to have a good common school education and her clothes and board and when she was 18 years old was to recieve [sic] a good outfit & $100 which she was cheeted [sic] out of. James Madison was given to Charles’ sister Mrs. Phebe Manchester when they went west but must have stayed with his grandfather’s family and his mother untill [sic] then, for he was 7 years old when he came to Wheaton Ills. and he was with his mother and Sarah in Locke after she went back there.” Orpha lost the opportunity to care for Maria (age 9), but kept James (age 3) and the baby Sarah.
Charles’ parents and a number of his siblings moved out west to Cook County, Illinois, sometime around June 1838. Family letters to Orpha survive from this time, revealing a continuing and tender relationship between Orpha and her in-laws. “Father [Vallette] wishes me to send his best wishes to you and yours. I sometimes think that he has more regard for you than for his own children,” Orpha’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth Vallette, says playfully, “He feels grateful to you for your great kindness and attention to him and our family … Your lot may have been hard in former days…but look forward to better things to come.” It seems that by the time of the first letter in June 1838, Orpha’s children James and Sarah are still living with her, now in Byron, Genesee County. By September of 1839 little James has moved to live with the Vallettes in Illinois. They wrote to her to tell how he was doing and to congratulate and advise Orpha on her engagement to be married. She is addressed as “Mrs. Norman Tuller” by July 1840. The end of the letter is directly addressed to Norman Tuller, and from it we conclude that this is at least his second marriage as he is answered about his daughter living in Wisconsin. Orpha and Norman welcome a baby boy into their marriage, and named him Elbridge G. Tuller (or Tullar). He was born 4 Aug 1841, but died just after his sixth birthday on 30 Jan 1848. To complicate Orpha’s life even further, she had been widowed again before 1846. This time, she was merely 42.
Orpha married the third time a widower, Josiah Howell, in January 1846. Orpha’s “hard lot” doesn’t seem to have diminished though. Josiah died on the 27th of Aug 1847 and is buried in the North Chili Rural Cemetery. They had no children together. According to Orpha’s granddaughter, “Mr. Howell’s youngest son was not of age and Orpha stayed at the Howell home for about a year she recieved [sic] an annuity from the Howell estate of $100 per year. After leaving the Howell place she and Sarah moved to Cary (now Oakfield) Gen[esee] Co. N.Y. where she bought a home.”
On 4 July 1850 Orpha’s youngest daughter, Sarah, married James Kennicutt Whitman, and they came to live with her in the home she owned in Oakfield. Orpha was 46 years old at the time of Sarah’s marriage. To provide herself an income, Orpha ran a “student’s club” out of her home, providing shelter and cooking meals for the students attending the local Cary Seminary. The Seminary attracted students from all over the nation, and even boasted some international children of royal houses. Sarah is said to have been a student at the Cary Seminary, and her husband James certainly attended in 1847. James, who is trained as a mason, was also a common school teacher, perhaps even at the Cary Seminary.
Orpha’s health began to fail and she suffered paralysis, perhaps from a stroke, in the fall of 1856. She had to walk with a cane thereafter. Perhaps she needed money for medical bills, or perhaps she wanted to secure her property for her daughter’s family because in December 1856 she deeded her home and property to her new son-in-law, James K. Whitman. Orpha continued to live in the home with Sarah and James, and enjoyed welcoming four of their seven children into the home: Celia (b. 1851), James Adolphus (b. 1854), Frances Jesse (b. 1856), and Alvirus (b. May 1858, d. Jul 1858). Orpha finally succumbed to cancer and died at home on 23 Mar 1858 at the young age of 53. She is said to have been buried in Chili, New York. Orpha suffered and lost more loves in her life than most. She kept close to her family, through letters and by keeping as near to her children as possible. She was respected for her kindness to family, and remembered fondly by her granddaughter and namesake, Celia Orpha Whitman. Perhaps the counsel of her sister-in-law reflected Orpha’s own life motto. Elizabeth Vallette said, “I presume none of us will find substantial happiness in this world…[but] May peace and prosperity reside in your domestic circle, which we have every reason will be the case, as it is the reward of the virtuous.” Whether Orpha's life was virtuous or not, I don't know, I just know that she and her tumultous life have always facinated me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Keeping History a Little Bit Safer

There is something very special and unique about being able to touch a piece of our family's history. One very unique piece that I have is the James Kennicutt Whitman family bible. (James Kennicott Whitman, Family Bible Records, 1850-1932, The Holy Bible, Rochester, NY: Wanzer, Foote & Co., 1851. Privately held in 2008 by Rebecca Whitman Koford [address privately held].)

There are three very important things to do with such a historic document: 1) reproduce, 2) transcribe, 3) preserve. In this case, the reproduction was done digitally, with scans of the family marriages, deaths, and other pages. The transcription with copies of the digital scans should be sent to family members and to repositories who collect them (such as the NSDAR), and finally, the artifact or fragile document should be preserved. Preservation for the Whitman family bible was done with Archival Method's ( Collection Edition Boxes and archival tissue. The museum-quality acid- and lignin-free materials will keep the fragile 150-plus year old documents safer than other more popular "some where in the attic" options.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Corporal Waddoups, World War I Veteran

How could the boys of the 145th Utah Field Artillery really know what it meant to become part of a "World" war? Omer and friends, like many american boys, sought the adventure and patriotism that enlistment would bring. His regiment was organized at Fort Douglas, UT, and then the troops were sent to Camp Kearny (near San Diego), CA, for training. Off they went and across the Atlantic to France in December of 1917. With them they carried a banner emblazoned, "Watch Your Girls - We're from Salt Lake."
France was a mess. Omer was there from August 1918 to January 1919. Despite their anxiousness to "enter the fray" the 145th never really saw battle. Fourteen of the soldiers of the 145th died from the Spanish Flu while stationed and training off the front lines at Camp De Souge, 600 soldiers in all were afflicted with it. They had just finished their training at De Souge when the Armistice was signed, and they were mustered out within a month.

Omer looked very good in his uniform - he was 5 foot, 6 inches tall, with brown hair and deep brown eyes, with a dark complexion. What girl wouldn't fall for a man in uniform, fresh from the War, and handsome, too? Ardis certainly did. Omer and Ardis were married in the Salt Lake Temple on 4 February 1920. Omer worked as a Farm & Dairy man on his father's farm. A year later, they were happy to be announce the birth of their own little girl, Mary Ardis Waddoups. The family was living in Ogden.

Sometimes the best things don't last however. Omer, with his friends Louis Whitesides and Jim Morgan and another friend, went into the hills near Howe early in the moring to hunt deer. Louis left the party to work his mail carrier route, and the others soon separated to pursue their game. As Omer carefully ascended a small hill Jim called to him. Hushing his friend, Omer let Jim know that he was tracking something. Jim waited behind, and eventually heard the expected shot. He waited for the second shot, a signal that the prey had been taken down but it did not come. Jim went in the direction he'd last seen Omer, and as he crested the hill he saw Omer down. Sliding into unconsiousness, Omer's last words to Jim were, "I fell...water." Assuming Omer wanted water, Jim rushed to get some, only to find that Omer had passed on in his short absence. Officials suspected that as Omer had been closely following the deer, he was walking with the gun cocked. The inquest held a few days later determined that he evidently slipped and fell and the gun was thrown behind him. As it discharged, the bullet entered the back right shoulder and exited the chest. Funeral services were held in Bountiful and he is buried in Ogden. He was 25 years old.
Years later Edith, Mary's younger half-sister, discovered this picture on the wall of the Yellowstone National Park lobby labelled as "Campers in the 1920s." She had found the only known picture of the Omer and Ardis family with baby Mary before Omer's unexpected death. The tent is erected over what looks like an early model Ford with beds perched on the car. With the Waddoupses are some old family friends. This accidental photo opportunity becomes a treasured family memory to their descendants.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My friends call me Betsey.

Meet Elizabeth KENNICUTT (WHITMAN). You can call her Betsey, everyone did. Betsey was a girl growing up in the slow rolling hills of Western New York. She is said to have been born in Batavia, Genesee County, NY in 1801. She was the third of 12 children, and the eldest girl in the family. Her grandfather, Daniel KINNICUTT, was a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War and lived until Betsey was about 16. Can you imagine the stories she might have heard from her grandpa? Betsey met James Wescott WHITMAN and they were married by a Justice of the Peace in 1819. Betsey's own children began coming in Nov 1820. She had a total of eight children (and possibly nine) between the years 1820 and 1844, all born in the Avon area of Livingston County, NY. In about 1846 she and her husband moved to the then-prosperous hamlet of Oakfield (also known as Cary), just outside the county seat of Batavia, Genesee County, NY. They owned a little house just a block or two from their church, St. Michael's Episcopal. Betsey seems to have been literate, and certainly valued education as she sent both her sons and daughters to the Cary Collegic Seminary, where they would obtain an advanced education. This picture of Betsey was probably taken in the mid-1860s. Don't blame her for her grim expression - photographs in that day had long exposure times, and smiling would twitch and unfocus a face. The photo may have been taken after Betsey had recently been beareaved; she and James lost their youngest son, Edward, to a terrible Union defeat in 1864. She had already buried one and possibly two toddlers back in Avon in 1824. Only two daughters lived in a nearby county, other children lived in Iowa, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and California. Betsey passed away, leaving her husband a widower, in 1873. We do not know for sure where Betsey and James are buried, but it is likely in the two unmarked graves between their son Edward and daughter Anna in the Oakfield/Cary
Cemetery. The obituary of Betsey is from the The Progressive Batavian, 27 June 1873.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Meet James Wescott WHITMAN

James Wescott WHITMAN was born
"near Troy" in either Saratoga County or Rennsselaer County, NY probably in about 1794. He may have fought in the War of 1812, and was reported to have done so by a granddaughter, but no records prove his service. He moved into Western New York and married Elizabeth "Betsey" KENNICUTT (born 1801, NY) in Ontario County (now Livingston), NY on 17 Oct 1819. They were married by a local Justice of the Peace, Judge Riggs. The county lines changed in 1821 and they found themselves in the new county of Livingston. They are reported to have lived in Avon and/or York. All of their eight known (and possibly nine) children were born in the Avon area. One little daughter, and possilby another child, were taken from the Whitmans at a young age. By about 1848 James moved to a growing new town known as Oakfield in the county of Genesee, NY. James worked as a master mason, and even advertised his services in the local gazeteer. His sons learned the trade as well. James and Betsey seemed to have valued education as many, if not all of their children were literate. A few of his children were known to have attended the Cary Seminary, a highly regarded private school. His daughters Maria, Anna, and son James K. were teachers there at some time. James and Betsey's family attended the St. Michael's Episcopal Church not more than a few blocks from their home. The family weathered the Civil War, and President Lincoln's funeral train came through their town. They lost their youngest son, Edward, to the brutal Battle of Cold Harbor in June of 1864. He was only 20 years old, and had been sending money home from his postings at Harper's Ferry, WV, and Fort McHenry, Baltimore. Their children began to move away in the 1850s and 1860s. Some children moved to Iowa, others to Pennsylvania, to Washington, DC, and one son went all the way to California. Betsey died, perhaps unexpectedly, in 1873, and her obituary mourns the fact that "Mr. now left alone to travel the remaining journey of life." Anna, an unmarried daughter, who was a teacher and accomplished soprano, came home to care for her father. James died not too many years later in 1878. Who was James Wescott WHITMAN? He was a father, a talented bricklayer, a religious man, a grieving widower, a man who is still part of us all.
For more details or source information on this short biography, please contact me.