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.


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.



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.


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.


WEEK 10 – 2015: Clay Squire, struck by lightning

“Stormy Weather” is this week’s theme for the 52 Ancestors challenge, which seems fitting now that warmer weather has finally made a comeback in Wisconsin. It brings to mind of those quick, and often violent, thunderstorms that roll across the midwest during the Spring and Summer months. So this week’s post is a short and sad story of how stormy weather impacted the life of one of my husband’s ancestors.

Elizabeth Mariah Dutton, is the 2nd great grand aunt of my husband. She was born in 1855 in Missouri to William and Elizabeth (Lenox) Dutton. On September 13, 1874 she married a young man by the name of Clay Squire in Texas County, Missouri. Clay and Elizabeth settled to a life off farming on some land near his parents, Henry and Emmaline Squire 6 miles south of Summerville, Missouri. They had 2 sons born on their farm: William in 1876 and Albert in 1878.

One morning in May of 1881, Clay got up and went out into his fields to get the corn planted for the year. The day must have started out beautiful and sunny. However, unknowing to Clay, there was one of those springtime thunderstorms brewing. It must have rolled in quickly, while Clay was out planting his corn, taking him by surprise. He probably was trying to get back to shelter, when a bolt of lightning struck him, killing him instantly.

He is buried in the Oakside Cemetery in Summerville, Missouri, alongside his father Henry.

Elizabeth was left as a young widow with 2 small children at the age of 26. Two years after Clay’s death, she married David Fry in Howell County, Missouri. She and David were married for many years, and had 6 sons together. Elizabeth died on July 10, 1926 in Thayer, Missouri. She is buried in the Thayer Cemetery alongside her second husband, David.

18. Ralph Dutton – His account of World War II


Letter from Ralph Dutton to his parents. The Houston Herald, September 16, 1943. Houston, MO.

I knew that I wanted today’s 52 Ancestors post to be about someone who served in the military in honor of Memorial Day. My husband’s family has so many members who have served, so I thought it would be a tough choice. However, while going through some newspaper clippings that I had saved in my files, this one stood out from the rest. 

My husband’s grand uncle, Ralph Dutton, was born in Angelo, Wisconsin, on July 23, 1923 to Walter and Pearl (nee Davis) Dutton. His father, Walter, had served in the Army during World War I. So, it was no surprise that 4 of his sons followed in his footsteps when World War II erupted. Eldon enlisted in the Navy, LaVern joined the Marines and Ralph and his brother, Kenneth, enlisted in the Army. Eldon was present at the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while his brother, Kenneth, died of wounds he received in France in 1944.

I think Ralph’s words will speak for themselves. It really shows the hardships that these young men endure while serving our country. Today, we honor him, and all of our other ancestors and current day family members who have served.