Thursday, November 20, 2014

Howard Farris Rhea 1919-2014

My uncle died this week and I am sad on many levels. He was a big part of my life growing up and the last living member of my father's family. As a family history fanatic, it is a big loss because he had information he took with him. As an uncle, he was always very good to me and I have fantastic memories. As a member of the human race, his loss will be felt by many. 

Howard Farris Rhea was born in 1919. He was 95 years old when he passed away. He leaves a wife of 67 years, a daughter and two sons. He had another daughter and son who left us too early. 

He was a successful attorney who, like his brothers, was a workaholic. He was a good provider and his kids benefited from his labors. He was a good husband, son, brother, and so much more. 

The photo was taken at Christmas 1962 at my grandparent's home in Billings, Montana. Standing are: Uncle Ralph and Aunt Bernice, Uncle Howard and Aunt Anne, and my dad Ernest and my mom Ruby. The front row is my cousin Gary (who passed away as a youngster at age 14), my cousin Patty, Me, my Grandpa William, my brother Marlin, my cousin Stuart, my granny Mellie, and the most adorable cousin Billy. This picture makes me smile because we had a lot of fun that year. 

Uncle Howard will now be reduced to dates. His birth date, marriage date, census dates and death date. All of those are important but the dates don't define who he was. Uncle Howard died on November 17, 2014 but he lives on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him. So, let me show you a little about him. 

                        
Top, at age 93 and as a baby. Below that is the three boys as kids. The bottom is camping with our family in Sequoia, middle, Howard with Aunt Anne (not sure if they were dating or married), and on the right, paying chess with my dad. There are tons of other pictures showing him in various stages in his life all of which will be posted on Ancestry.com and other sites so he will continue to live in memory.

Today, as we get ready for Thanksgiving, I will be celebrating his life and all of the family, living or already gone because when we gather together to ask the Lord's blessing, we know we have already been blessed.

Prayer of Thanksgiving


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

Description: http://www.awltovhc.com/image-2103840-5902068Description: http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=10&pub=5574636337&toolid=10001&campid=5337535548&customid=4075552-29036123&uq=1900+lawn+dress&mpt=150820737
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. 



Find a Grave

Search 117.0 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search:
Surname: