Friday, October 31, 2014

The Farris Girls, Three Letters from 1905 - 1932

The Farris Girls are my grandmother and her sister
Mellie is my grandmother and Bertie is her sister. In 1905, my grandmother was 25 and Bertie would have been 18. Both of the Farris Girls were living with other families as hired help. Their step-mother was the original evil one as depicted in the movie Cinderella (probably based on my grandma's step-mother) but that's a different story. I have copied the letters here.
None of the spelling or grammar has been corrected. I do have the original letters in my possession. The Gene in the letter is their brother who also lived in Missouri and would have been 20.

Letter from Bertie to Mellie. Postage stamped on envelope, Russelville, MO - June 25, 1905 - 8 am.
Letter and envelope to faded and fragile to scan
Miss Mellie Farris.
Dear sister
I will try to write you a few lines this evening as I have nothing to do. You must forgive me for not writing sooner but I dont think you would be mad if you know how much work I have to do. I will try to give you a list of what I done this week. I made me a blue lawn dress for the fourth washed and ironed done the housework picked awful big patch of raspberries every other day. besides I have went to meetings the last three nights at the Christian Church went to Sunday school this morning and to meeting at the Baptist church. Mrs and Mr Short are camellights or Christians. I dont think they like for me to go to any other church but I am going to any church I want to. Mrs. Short is always talking about religion, She said she believed the Christian church was nearer right than any other. I told her yes everybody thought their own church was the best. She has been trying to get me to join. The preacher has been here two nights and two days he give me a good talk this morning. I dont think it is any better than some others.
When are you and Mollie coming down. I can meet you at the depot any time you get ready to come. You must come for I want to see you both. Cant you both got to Olean with me for the fourth. You can get on at Enon. Me and Daisy Musick are going on the train together. I have me a blue lawn dress to wear trimmed in lace insertion a new corset and corset cover embroidery and insertion and trimmed in blue ribbon a new underskirt to tom in embroidery white ribbon for my hair neck and waist 2 new handkerchiefs am going to get me some white gloves and some slippers. You and Mollie mus be sure and go with us. Daisy is an awful pretty girl. She is as good as can be. We are big chums. She just lives a few steps away from here.
i got a letter from Gene did you. He said he was going to write to you. he said he wanted to come to the fourth. It would be nice if we could all go together. Write and tell me if you can go. There is not going to be any here. Papa was here to see me Thursday. he done the only bragging on me I ever heard him do. He said I was always good when I was at home and minded him well. I was awful glad to see him. I got letters from Maggie and Beulah. Well I must close and tell you the rest when I see you.
Write soon.
From your loving sister B

Letter from Mellie to Bertie. Postmarked stamped on envelope, Van Buren, Arkansas (registered letter) April 6, 1912
Mrs. Bertie Enloe
Bagnell, Mo
Van Buren Ark
March 6, 1912
Dear Sister Bertie
How are you. I am well. I read your card you wrote to Maude Allard. Would not give Maude the money to send for you. So Maude said I don't think she wants him to, you know how they are. Do you sill want to come down here if I was not here. I would not come. I may go to Cal next week. Write and tell us if you still want to come. If I were you, I would not say another word to Maude about coming nor mother either. They think they are smart but don't say anything. Me and Gene will try to send for you after awhile if I don't go off sometimes. I just think I wont stay in this town.
I may come back to Mo after strawberrie time. I have been working for a woman here, worked eight weeks but I am through now. I am going to send you two dollars and want you to get on the train and go down to Enloes and stay till you can hear from me again or you can go to uncle Enoch and stay. Aunt wrote to me and told me she would give me two dollars a week and you need not be afraid to go the Enloes for he told me you are welcome any time you wanted to come. If they have someone it no difference you can go there and you go say I wrote to you two letters you never got. I sent you a valentine and a letter and you never said anything about it and ask why I did not answer your letter.
Gene and Delia and my self are going to move this week. Be sure and write to me as soon as you receive this. I will send envelope and stamp and tell us all about it. Don't stay any longer if you are in trouble. You wont get any better and I would go if I was aiming to soon. Do just as you please about coming here but mother is not able to do nothing but if you had the money to come or was here you could make a living this summer.
I will close. Write soon, kiss Jewell for me. Your sister, Mellie

Mellie with Ralph 1918
Bertie with Eugene 1911

Letter from Mellie to Bertie, Postmarked December 22, 1932 
Wm Rhea, RR2, Billings, Mont
Mrs. Bertie Rasmusson
Metzger, Oregon
Dear Sister Bertie and family
After a long time I will write you a few lines. Well here it is Xmas again how time flies why dont you write. I was sure I wrote after I was up there in June but now I am not so sure. It is almost as easy for me to take a trip to Portland as to write a letter and you know how hard it is to take a trip. How are you all by now. We have colds so much flu here now. The weather has been very cold but is warmer now. What are you all doing by now. Wm still works be we cant sell anything we raised. Have so many squash here just shriveling. I have been render lard today. We killed a hog have three more to kill, they are sure cheap. I am getting about a dozen eggs a day. They are thirty cents per dozen now.
How is times there? Now we had quite a political change in (unknown). Did Eugene vote? How is all the children. Now is Soren still planning to go to Alaska? Have you heard from Genes, what are you planning for Xmas? Guess we will stay at home may go to the show or to church. We have a nice car and plenty to eat and a warm fire for which I am thankful. With you could be with us Xmas. I am sending you a dollar buy something you want. Wish I had more to send but we still have to put our middleboard up and the floors are not all down. Well I must close. Hope to hear from you all soon. Love and best wishes for a merry Xmas.
Your sister,
Mellie Rhea

PS there is a dime for the three little folks.

Mellie and Bertie, Billings, Montana 1950's

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Sherman set The WABAC Machine to 1884"

As a child, my favorite cartoon was Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Actually, it still is. 

Mr. Sherman and Peabody

What does this have to do with the Rhea/Farris family history? Quite a lot really. 

On the Worldwide Genealogy site, there was a post titled Rear View Mirror. It caught my attention so I had to go see what it was about. Basically, it referred to a post on History Today titled Mirror Year: How old are you really?  OK, even more interesting, what is a mirror year? 

According to the articles, a mirror year is as far back into the past as you are old. For example, I am 65. If I take my birth year (1949) and subtract my age, the WABAC Machine sends me to 1884. We tend to define modern from our birth year but the past holds surprising information that impacts who you are today. 

For instance: September 21, 1884 - My great grandfather was murdered by John Brewer. My grandpa was 2-years-old and my great grandmother was expecting the 8th child. That event changed the family dynamics. What if John Carter Rhea had survived the gunshot? We will never know but it shaped our family and who we are today. 

Harry Truman (the 33rd President) was born in Missouri on May 8, 1884. He was the sitting president when I was born. Although I don't remember him (my memory of president begins with Eisenhower) Truman had a big impact with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. He changed the world forever. His actions also plunged us into the Cold War and all those years we ducked and covered expecting to be vaporized by Russian bombs. Watch this cheerful public service film made for the schools of New York. 

Other 1884 events that are a part of my life. 

May 19, 1884 - the premiere of the Ringling Brothers Circus

May 31, 1884 - "Flaked cereal" patented by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg

July 4, 1884 - Statue of Liberty presented to the United States in Paris, France and on August 5th, the cornerstone for the statue was laid on Bedloe's Island in New York City. 

December 1884 - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was published in England. 

As far back as 1884 seems to me, there were many things that happened that are so much a part of our lives, it seems inconceivable that they weren't always there. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Abijah Rhea, Abijah Ray

My great grandfather's brother was Abijah Rhea. It is difficult finding information for him. He was born in 1836 in Hancock County, Tennessee. He was a Confederate soldier in the 29th Tennessee Infantry. On January 9, 1862, he was captured by the Union army at the Battle of Mill Springs in Kentucky.

This is where the water gets a little murky.

On the "Selected Records of the War Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War 1861-1865". he is listed as Abijah Ray. One has to guess that his name was listed phonetically and not as it was spelled at the time. It has the right infantry division and the right county. The time frame is correct.

However, if you search the records, there is another Abijah Ray. Without careful consideration, it is easy to confuse the two although they are related.

The Reverend Joseph Rhea was born in 1788, the son of John Elijah Rhea Sr. Joseph had a son named James Northcross Rhea born in 1816. His son is the "Other" Abijah born in 1864.

The Reverend Joseph Rhea had six siblings.

John Elijah Rhea Jr. born in 1803, married Lucy Jones and they had 11 children. My great grandfather, John Carter Rhea, was born in 1842. He married Martha Jane McCollum and they had nine children. My grandfather, William Ogden Rhea, was born in 1882. He married Mellie Farris and moved to Montana where my father was born.

The other sibling that figures into this is:

Martha Pricilla Rhea born in 1790 was also a sibling of the Reverend Joseph Rhea. She married John McCollom. They had a son in 1820 named James Northcross McColloam. The reason James Northcross McColloam figures into this mix is because he married Mary Polly Gray and they had three children. One of them, Martha Jane McCollum, married, John Carter Rhea. They were kissing cousins.

There is a pattern here. It is meant to confuse future family history researchers. Both of the siblings named their children with the same name, born 4 years apart. The McCollum's also spelled their name any way they wanted. So with two Abijah's, two James Northcross' and the McCollum's spelling, getting this right was an issue.

Thanks to Kaye for contacting me and the the rest of the Ray clan for inviting us in. With their help, I finally get all of this!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

23andMe and Ancesty DNA, trying to track down relationships

I have now done the and 23andMe DNA. I had hoped it would be more helpful but has yet to meet my expectations. With that being said, it did spur me on to check for a name. Faye, a new"family" member at 23andMe, contacted me to see how we're related.

She sent me a list of family names. The only one I could find was a Collins.

Ida Belle Tyler, my 1st cousin, 2x removed, (meaning, she was the daughter of my great grandmother's sister), married Landon Haynes Collins and had one child, Robert Jesse Collins. Given the relationships, Robert is my 2nd cousin, 1x removed. None of them live in the places Faye mentioned but it didn't stop me from doing a little more research.

Landon's father was Bailey Collins, 1868 - 1897. He is related to me by marriage so that throws off the DNA as far as the Collins goes. However, doing a little more research, I discovered that Bailey Collins married Melissa Rhea. The name was familiar so I did a little more digging.

Melissa Rhea is the daughter of Samuel Rhea. Samuel Rhea is my 1st cousin, 3x removed. I had to figure this one out step by step.

John Elijah Rhea Sr married Febra Northcross. They had 7 children.

Joseph Rhea is the 1st child. He is the father of Samuel who is the father of Melissa who married Bailey Collins.  

Martha Pricilla Rhea is the 3rd child. She is my 3rd great grandmother and married John McCollom. Their son is James Northcross McCollom.

John Elijah Rhea Jr. is the 4th child. He is my 2nd great grandfather. He married Lucy Anderson and their son, John Carter Rhea married Martha Jane McCollom, the daughter of the above mentioned James Northcross McCollom.

This is where I stop because I just can't think about it anymore.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Meet Mellie Farris

Mellie Farris is my grandmother. She was a spitfire in a small body and no one messed with her. She was loving but ruled with an iron hand. This photo is probably around 1914 when she married my grandfather.

My dad, uncle, and Granny taken about 1942 in their home in Billings, Montana. 
The Granny I remember with the smile that brightened a room. 

Mellie Farris was the oldest child of Oliver Valentine Farris and Matilda Jane Pitchford. She was born in Eldon, Missouri on January 20, 1883. We have no documentation on her birth nor do we know if Mellie is her only name. On one family tree, they have her name as Mellicene but no documentation to back it up. 

Her childhood was less than ideal and I will cover that later. In the end, she created a life that suited her and I think she was quite content. To me, she was just Granny and a major part of my life. 

Changing the blog name

This started as Yeakley/Rhea, my parent's names. Then I changed it to Rhea/McCollum to add my grandpa's family. Now I see that it was wrong to begin with. I have a new blog called Yeakley/Jones which is my mom's parents. I see now it would have been more accurate to have started this one as Rhea/Farris for my grandparents. So on March 1, 2014, it will include my grandmother's Farris family too.

Genealogy is hard enough without confusing the families. Fortunately, I did the Yeakley/Jones right to start with. This blog is a hodge-podge of different families. In the beginning, I also did my husband's biological family but eventually created a website and blog for him. I switched to my great grandparents in 2013 for the Family History Writing Challenge. I have just completed the 2014 challenge and am satisfied that I now have the bones to write the story of Martha Jane McCollum.

Now that the Challenge is over, I am heading towards the Farris side of the family. I am also working on the Yeakley's on a different blog. I've spent a very long time on the Rhea's and am satisfied with what I have although I know it will never be completely done.

The Farris family, like the Yeakley's have been ignored while researching the Rhea's. On Ancestry, I have all the facts but none of the details that make them real people. It will be an interesting adventure.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 28 - Recap

Last year when I did this challenge, I wrote whatever came to mind. I wrote some things well, others were just lists.

This year, I tried to put it all in order to see if I had enough to write a short story to share with family. I have about 24000 words so I looked it up. I have too many words for a short story and too little for a novel. However, with technology, novelettes are back in favor. When Jane was living, many stories were serialized and the word count would fall between those of a story and a novel. Novelettes were very popular.

Then I went back and looked at the different days. Some have dialog and others are just stating facts. All that will need to be redone but I have something to work with. The next it creative non-fiction or have I crossed enough lines to have to consider it historical fiction? While I would like to think of it as creative non-fiction, I already know the answer.

My goal for next year is to move on to another family line. It's time to look at Farris/Pitchford, my grandmother's side of the family. I have a second cousin making a trip to England this year to the Pitchford Castle. She will come back with lots of information to share. I also know a little bit about the Farris side and there are some interesting characters there.

The Rhea/McCollum story will continue to grow as little pieces pop up. Each new piece challenges what I thought I knew and that's what makes family history exciting.

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