52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2018 #17 – Cemetery

Cemeteries are the best place to find people. Really! My husband and I have spent countless hours walking through many, many cemeteries, and when I can not get to the cemetery of my choice I use the FindAGrave web site and someone else will walk through a cemetery for me and take a picture of the requested gravestone like this one from the Hudson Valley in New York of my father’s paternal great grandparents William and Margaret Frimpter.

mixed genealogy pics from disc 094

Of course walking sometimes means hiking. Cemeteries don’t always have the groomed green grass of a modern city like this Gold Camp Cemetery photo where Soapy Smith is buried in Skagway, Alaska. What a hike, and the bugs were terrible!

Gold Rush Cemetery Skagway

In St. Louis while looking for my husbands McMahon family grave site at Calvary Cemetery, we took a pre-mapped guided tour of the 300,000 burials. Some famous St. Louis people are here like Tennessee Williams, Dred Scott, Pierre Chouteau (founder of St. Louis) and H. Soulard.

Some cemeteries, like the Elbert cemetery here in Colorado show the natural beauty of the wildflowers. Both the Edwin Squires family and the Robert S. Foreman family are buried here.

Sometimes if you are having trouble finding the cemetery like we did in Catawisa, Missouri, street signs help. We knew we were close to finding my husbands great, great grandfather John McNamee here:

Intersection of McNamee Rd and McNamee School Road

At the Chesed Shel Emith Cemetery in St. Louis, the cemetery that suffered damage from vandalism when more than 100  grave stones were toppled last year, (they caught the guy last week) we found a picture of my husband’s 1st cousin twice removed embedded in the gravestone and also my husband’s great, great grandmother Jennie, which provided me the opportunity to learn a little Hebrew.

Riverside Cemetery here in Denver, one of the first cemeteries, hosts the graves of 13th cousin Silas Soule. Silas refused the orders of Chivington to shoot and kill the Indian women and children at the Sand Creek Massacre. Later, after testifying at the trial of Chivington, Silas was gunned down on the street near 15th and Arapaho in Denver.  Remember George Soule is our Mayflower ancestor.


Gravestones can provide a lot of information. We were looking for the birth date of Elizabeth McNamee Godfrey. Thought we would find it on the gravestone at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, but it wasn’t there. However, we did get the names of two of their children engraved on the back side.

David and Elizabeth Godrey

I love exploring cemeteries. So much history and so many stories.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2018 #16 – Storms

Vernon, Colorado

Carol Singer, Gloria Hartman Clark, Mary Foreman Hartman
Carol Singer, Gloria Hartman Clark, Mary Foreman Hartman

Mary Hartman! Mary Hartman! The opening lines of a prime time Emmy Award winning soap opera back in 1976-1977.

This was my first thought when 20 years ago my mother said we needed to go to Wray, Colorado and visit Mary Hartman. Our fist visit was in 1999. She was excited to have company and welcomed us to look through her photo albums and pictures. She brought the Foreman family history alive with her stories of growing up in Vernon, Colorado just 10 miles south of Wray.

Mary Geneva Foreman Hartman was first cousin to my grandmother Mary Frances Foreman Hancock. Both ladies were good friends from childhood until 2000 when my grandmother died. For years they would send letters back and forth to each other several times each month.

In 2000 my mother and I went back to Wray for “Vernon Days” which is held each August.  Tractor pulls, tractor parades, very old tractors on display, good food, flea market and the historic school building open for displays with quilt shows and WWII memorabilia or whatever the featured subject was for that year.


Mary Hartman checking out the old post office boxes and clerk’s window. She pointed out the box that belonged to her family.


Quilts on display.

In 2001 I went back to Vernon Days to visit Mary Hartman. My mother had passed away and on this trip my grandmother’s brother Robert Foreman joined me.  Mary Hartman was delighted to see her other cousin. Mary added a grand tour of the area around Vernon, showing us where all the Foreman’s had homesteaded and several of the cemeteries that held family members from Wray to Idalia. We even searched through a freshly plowed field turning over the big chunks of dirt looking for the headstones of Harriet Foreman Long and her husband. Never found it, we were in the wrong field!


Wray Rattler – 1903

As we drove the county roads surrounding Vernon, she pointed out the farms where Foreman’s had homesteaded and talked about who lived there now. What I found most interesting was her concern for the condition of the dry land crops. She would tell us of a storm that moved through the area and completely flooded the field of corn. Sod Soaker’s or Gully Washers they were called!


Wray Rattler – 1923

She mentioned the wheat crops that were destroyed from hail storms years ago when she and her husband farmed near Idalia.


The scariest storms of all were the the tornadoes and high winds.

Bob Foreman and I continued to visit Mary Hartman for Vernon Days until 2007 when at age 90 Bob decided the trip was just too much for him. The same year Mary Hartman had turned 90 and I made a solo trip. I learned that Mary’s daughter Gloria, wasn’t feeling well. Turns out she had colon cancer and died in July of 2008 at age 62. In September of 2008 Mary passed away at age 91.

Boy, I miss those trips to Vernon. I miss Mary Hartman and her stories.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2018 #15 – Taxes

Coming up on my 70th year of life and spending the last 20 years researching family history and building a huge family tree, I can tell you of two things I am certain, death and taxes.

For some, neither is a welcome topic. The mystery or charm of charting someone’s life is truly an investigative endeavor. So many records bear witness about an ancestor’s life from birth to grave.

For death a chiseled granite stone or brass memorial plate announcing the longevity or depth of love marks the last space on earth the ancestor will inhabit.


For taxes the state tax rolls describe the value of a lifetime of work whether it be hardship or profit. Because our early ancestors were mostly farmers think of the backbreaking effort to cut the sod in the fields to plant the corn or oats waiting for the rain to give the seeds life and praying the hail would not take it down in a matter of minutes. Even a lightning strike could doom the crop.

Sid's Steam Engine cutting sod 1898

Sid Foreman with his threshing machine and crew in 1898, cutting sod in Cameron, Colorado

It was the government that became the demon. At death the total worth of property would be listed and valued and taxes must be paid on that value. The census records reveal the widows who lived with their children when taxes could not be paid on the farm.

JF land sale

Some of our ancestral farmers turned to the cities to get factory jobs for wages to either take the place of or supplement the farm. The great depression and dust bowl experienced on the great plains gave measure to the hard work of the farm family.

Bernard Hancock Retirement -35

Grandpa Bernard Hancock at Gates Rubber Company. Retired in 1962.

We are the result of that life. Death and taxes – both a sure thing.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2018 #14 – The Maiden Aunt

Hattie Elvira Totten – The Maiden Aunt

Born 6 June 1871, Haddem, Washington County, Kansas

Died 16 February 1953, Kennewick Valley, Benton County, Washington

Hattie Elvira Totten

Hattie Totten was the fourth child and third daughter of William Totten and Lois Emerette Goodell Totten. Hattie was the younger sister of Mary Phoebe “Birdie” Totten Brace and lived in Elbert, Colorado prior to and just a little after 1910. Birdie Brace was Grandpa Hancock’s grandmother.

Although she doesn’t show up in the 1910 census in Elbert, Colorado she was living there because she owned a Millinery shop in Elbert. Quite the business woman, she kept her clients happy and interested with her ads in the Elbert County Tribune. Not only was she a milliner she made corsets and was a dressmaker.

Hattie ad v.2

Offering a variety of feminine novelties.

Hattie ad v.7

Learned how to spell millinery with this blog! Lulu Hancock Baber, Grandpa Hancock’s mother often worked with Aunt Hattie in her shop.

Hattie ad v.3

Aunt Hattie left Colorado and is listed in the 1920 Census in Kennewick Valley, Washington. She owns her home and her mother Lois Emerette lives with her. Next door is a nephew Leverette Dague with his young wife and Hattie’s sister Edith Dague, her husband and 5 of their children live nearby. Hattie’s occupation is listed as fruit farmer.

By 1930 she is listed as a diversified farmer in Kennewick. She is living alone because her mother died in 1924.  

At age 69 in the 1940 census she is living alone. and no occupation is listed. She was 81 years old when she died 15 February 1953. It was about 3 weeks before they discovered her death. As a result all her possessions were destroyed. Aunt Hattie and Lois Emerette Totten are buried together in Kennewick.