Month: June 2015

WEEK 25: The Old Homestead – Sparta, Wisconsin

This week’s 52 Ancestors‘ theme is “The Old Homestead.”

Sometime around the early 1960s, Eldon and Harriet Dutton purchased a large Queen Anne-style Victorian home located on the corner of Franklin and Belton Streets in Sparta, Wisconsin for themselves and their 10 children. Over the years, the Dutton family celebrated graduations, weddings and the birth of grandchildren in that house.

Sparta

After the children were grown, and had families of their own, Eldon and Harriet sold the home. Decades later the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, renovated and was turned into a bed and breakfast.

A few years ago, Eldon and Harriet’s three daughters decided to spend a night in their old home. They even stayed in their old rooms.

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WEEK 24 – Dad’s Arrowheads

My Dad had a small collection of arrowheads that he had since he was a boy. I would make him show them to me and loved to listen as he explained that Indians had actually carved the small rocks into points, tie them on branches, and used them as their arrows and spears for hunting. It amazed me that I was touching something that someone had made hundreds of years ago. Earlier this year, my Dad was moved to a nursing home for patients with Alzheimer’s. So, when my mom asked if I wanted my Dad’s arrowheads, i immediately said, “yes.” They are a precious heirloom to me, not only for the historical value, but also for the memories of listening to my Dad explain what they were, and how he had found them. They also fit in nicely with the theme of this week’s 52 Ancestors challenge is “heirloom.”

My Dad grew up in the city. He was raised with his older brother and younger sister in northwest Philadelphia. One of the things he always looked forward to every summer, was escaping the city and traveling north with his family to visit cousins of his mother in Laceyville, Pennsylvania. My Dad had many fond memories of visiting the O’Mara farm, which used to belong to his great-aunt, Mary O’Mara and her husband, John and passed down to their children.

My Dad (in the middle) with his Uncle Albert, cousin Al, Jr., his mother, Emma and his brother, Daniel.

My Dad (in the middle) with his Uncle Albert, cousin Al, Jr., his mother, Emma and his brother, Daniel, on one of the family trips to the O’Mara farm in Laceyville, PA.

My Uncle Dan and his catch.

My Uncle Dan and his catch.

Dad riding a pony at the O'Mara farm in Laceyville, PA.

Dad riding a pony at the O’Mara farm in Laceyville, PA.

My Dad loved roaming the wide open fields with his brother, Daniel and fishing in the nearby pond. And my Dad also got to ride a pony, something that inspired him to get his own horse when he became an adult.

Nearby, was a scenic overlook known as the Wyalusing Rocks. The rocks are almost 500 feet above the Susquehanna River. The rocks were also known as the “prayer rocks” and were used by the Indians as a signaling point. Some of the tribes that had lived in the area were the Susquehannock and then later the Tuscarora, which was a tribe of the Iroquois Indians. My grandfather, who was quite the shutterbug, liked to go there so he could capture some of the scenery on film. My dad like to explore the rocks and the Indian path.

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It was here that my Dad found his arrowheads. No doubt they were left behind by someone who had been standing as a lookout hundreds of years before. Dad came home with 5 arrowheads on that trip. My grandfather built him a shadowbox frame and lined it with green felt, and they glued the arrowheads on that.

hope my Dad would be happy knowing that his childhood treasures will be with me. I intend to get them into a new frame and display them on the bookshelf we have in our family room.

WEEK 23: Mom and Dad – their wedding photo

The theme for week 23 of the 52 Ancestor Challenge is “wedding.” These days, my parents are in my every thought. My Dad is suffering from late stages of Alzheimers, and may not be with us much longer. So, I have decided to honor both him and my mom with in this week’s post.

There was a place in Philadelphia back in the 1950s called ‘Al’s Riding Academy.” It was a place near Fairmont Park, where Philadelphia residents could own and board their horses. A young woman named Lorraine, boarded  her bay gelding named ‘Krimpet” at Al’s.  He was named after the popular snack cake, “Butterscotch Krimpets” produced by local bakery, TastyKake, which is where Lorraine had been employed. In a stall next to Kandy, was a big pinto gelding named “Davy Crockett.” Davy was owned by a young man named Jim, who obviously was a fan of the latest blockbuster of the day. Not only did Kandy and Davy become good friends, but their owners did as well.

Jim and Lorraine eventually married on June 20, 1959 at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia. Many of their friends from Al’s Riding Academy were guests at the wedding, including their friend, Gene O’Neill, who served as the best man.

Jim and Lorraine had two children, and moved to Lehighton, PA where they bought a small farm and raised Arabian horses. The farm was sold several years ago, and is no longer standing. However, Davy Crockett is still buried there, at the top of the hill under the apple tree, where he used to hang out and eat apples to his heart’s content.

WEEK 22 – Eldon Dutton and the commencement of generations.

I am behind on my 52 Ancestors post, because I was out of town to attend a high school graduation. Ironically, the theme for last week is “Commencement.”

However, I was stuck on who to write about as far as “commencement.” So, I decided to search through Ancestry’s U.S. School Yearbooks collection to find some inspiration. I discovered  the yearbook of my husband’s grandfather, Eldon W. Dutton.

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Eldon was part of the 1939 graduating class of Sparta High School in Wisconsin. His profile said that his nickname was “Red” and that he was a participant in “Jefferson 1” and “Oratory 2.”

Eldon enlisted in the Navy on April 2, 1940. He was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1944, and survived. I will save that story for another day. He went on to serve in the Navy throughout  World War II. After his discharge, Eldon returned to Sparta and settled on a farm with his wife, Harriet and started a family of 10 children.

What immediately struck me when i first opened up the page of Eldon’s yearbook photo, was that I could tell who he was, even without looking at his name. I could swear that I was looking at the photo of my stepson.

This immediately prompted me to dig up a photo of another commencement taken only last year to compare the resemblance. It is also a photo deemed to be a classic for future generations, not only because it includes 3 generations (my husband, his son and his father), but also for my father-in-law’s exceptional photo bombing skills.

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