About Me

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Just to tell you a little about myself, my name is Vickie and I was born and raised in Kentucky. The majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a courthouse and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Francois Kerby I

The ancestor I will be telling you about this week is from my husband’s side and is his third great-grandfather on his Mom’s side of the family.  His name was Francois Kerby I and he was born October 3, 1793 in Saint Helier on the Isle of Jersey in the Channel Islands.  Francois was the son of Jean Kerby II and Marie Metivier who were also from Saint Helier.  I only have one picture of Francois Kerby and it is the following, we had only had the head shot of this photo until I found this one of the full picture at www.familysearch.org

The following is a brief history of our Kerby family on the Isle of Jersey that has been passed down.  The Kerby family may have come to the Isle of Jersey in the early years of the 18th century as I don’t know, nor have I found where the first of our line, Farthingaudo Kerby I, was born, but I do know that all of his children and his descendants for a number of years were all born on the Isle of Jersey.   Farthingaudo Kerby I, 1684-1747, and his sons, Philippe Kerby, 1710-????, and Farthingaudo Kerby II 1712-????, were garrison soldiers.  Jean Kerby I, 1737-????, was a privateer and his son, Jean Kerby II, 1766-????, was a clock and watchmaker and silversmith and his business was taken over by his son Francois Kerby I, 1793-1884.  Francois Kerby II, 1821-1914, was a college graduate who spoke fluent French and was a painter and glazier as well as a clock and watchmaker.  The first Francois left Jersey and went to Wiltshire, England and continued his profession.  The younger Francois went to Yorkshire, England for a few years and then immigrated to the United States, settling in the Utah Territory where he died.  Farthingaudo Kerby I is the furthest we have back so far on our Kerby line.

For those that don’t know the Channel Islands set in the English Channel between France and England.  The following shows a map of the islands in the channel and the next map shows the different parishes within the Isle of Jersey itself.  Though English is the national language spoken here, French is also quite prominent and the Kerby’s spoke both English and French fluently.

Francois Kerby I, was the only son and the middle child of the five known children, born to Jean Kerby II and Marie Metivier in Saint Helier.  The four daughters and siblings to Francois were the following: Anne Kerby 1789-???? who married Francois Le Marquant; Jeanne Kerby 1791-???? who married Clement Sorel; Mary Peggy Kerby 1797-???? who married Phillip du Heaume and Elizabeth Kerby 1799-????.  I haven’t followed any of these girls yet, so that is why I don’t have any death dates or much information about any of them at this time.

Francois Kerby I as well as his son Francois Kerby II, learned the occupation of clock/watch maker and were also painters and poets.  Family stories always said that they would paint the picture on the front of the clocks they made and on the back of the clock they would include a poem.  A cousin of my husbands was at an auction in Southern California a few years ago and saw a clock that said made by Francois Kerby, Isle of Jersey with the year, if I remember correctly.  She got very excited, because she knew this was her great-great-grandfather, but kept her composure and bought the clock, which indeed included a poem on the back.  She never said how much she had to pay for the clock, but I know if it had been me, I would not have left the shop until I became the new owner.  I know I have a picture of the clock she bought, somewhere, but so far I am not finding it.  However, I do have a picture of one of his son, Francis II’s clocks that is still on the Isle of Jersey. One of my mother-in-law's cousins had this picture and she let me scan it so that I could have a copy of it as well.

Francois Kerby I, soon meet his future wife and on July 13, 1816 at the Parish Church in St. Helier, Francois married Jeanne Guilleaume, who was born March 15, 1791 also in St. Helier and she was the daughter of Clement Guilleaume and Marie Rachel Arrive, who were from St. Helier as well.  I have two pictures of Jeanne, one when she is younger and one when she is older, and they are the following, again just head shots, but I wish I could find the full pictures like I did for Francois.

Francois and Jeanne became the parents of eight children all born in St. Helier and they were the following: Jane Mary Kerby 1817-1899 in Warminster, Wiltshire, England, married Jean de Gruchy; Jean Francois Kerby 1819-1821 in St. Helier; Francois Kerby II (Francis) 1821-1914 in Wallsburg, Wasatch County, Utah, married Marie Le Cornu (My husband’s 2nd great-grandparents); Mary Durell Kerby 1823-1887 in Paddington, New South Wales, Australia, married Edmund Reuben Parker; Esther Kerby 1825-1915 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand, married Robert Bartley Jr.; Sophia Kerby 1826-1893, in Warminster, Wiltshire, England, she was a school teacher and never married; Charles Kerby 1830-1879 in Pukehinau Stream, Shellback, Thames, New Zealand, married Caroline Down and Rachel Nankivell and Harriet Kerby 1833-1911 in Warminster, Wiltshire, England, married Thomas John Ryall.

I don’t know how they did it, but four of their eight children left home, one for America and the wilds of the west in Utah Territory in 1857, which was my husband’s ancestor, the other three left in 1854, for New Zealand and a couple of them went to Australia for a time searching for gold and one stayed in Australia where she died.  You know that in those days, letters would have taken months to get to family back home and you knew that once they left, the odds of you ever seeing any of them ever again would have been almost nil.  As far as I am aware Francois and Jeanne never saw these four children ever again.  I don’t have pictures of all of their children, but I do have the following:  Francois Kerby II (I have others of him when he is older), Mary Kerby Parker with her husband and a couple of her children and then Charles Kerby.  I wish I had some of the rest of the children but I don’t.  The reason I have the ones of Mary and Charles is because some of their descendants who still live in Australia and New Zealand found me a few years ago and sent me information on them, including these pictures.

Sometime after the 1851 census was taken in St. Helier, Francois and Jeanne and some of their children left the Isle of Jersey and went to England, settling in the town of Warminster in Wiltshire.  From Francois Kerby II’s journal, I know that his parents, are in Warminster before 1855, because he has stopped to pick up his daughter, Mary, from his sister Jane de Gruchy’s, where she had been attending school.  Jane and her husband Jean de Gruchy had a school where Jean de Gruchy was the head master and Jane and her sister, Sophia Kerby, taught school.  When Francois Kerby II was writing in his journal he mentions that his parents, Francois and Jeanne, had received a letter from their daughter Esther, saying that their daughter Mary was getting married, and Esther and Mary and their families, as well as Charles were leaving Australia and going back over to New Zealand.
Francois Kerby I, was listed as a watchmaker on the 1841 through 1871 census records on the Isle of Jersey as well as in Warminster, England but by 1881 he is listed as deriving income from dividends.  I am not sure exactly what that means, but I am assuming it means that he may have placed his money in some kind of an account and was now living off the proceeds from said accounts.  I know that the family while on the Isle of Jersey and in England as well, were quite well to do for the time period, not wealthy by any means but they weren’t hurting either.

Like I said their children starting getting married and four of them moved far away and Francois and Jeanne got older, as we all tend to do, and soon, Jeanne passed away in Warminster, on June 15, 1875 of acute bronchitis and was buried two days later at the Non-Conformist Church Cemetery on Boreham Road in Warminster.  Francois continued living in their home on Silver Street, but had moved to Emwell Cross, also in Warminster, not far from his home on Silver Street, where he passed away on December 3, 1884 and was buried two days later by his wife at the Non-Conformist Church Cemetery on Boreham Road in Warminster.  The cause of death is listed as senility and decay, with contributing factors of inflammation of the bladder, he was 91 years old.

This ancestor was better off financially then most I have written about, but I am sure it did not make you feel any better knowing you would never see some of your children ever again in this life at least.  Four of his children were half way around the world from them, never to be seen again, he and his wife did have three of their daughters close by though.  They all knew how to write thankfully, so they could correspond with each other, even though it did take months to receive replies to their letters.  Can you even image not knowing how to write and possibly never hearing from your children again.  Francois was living with his widowed daughter, Jane Mary de Gruchy and his single, daughter Sophia Kerby when he passed away.

I wish I knew more about his life, and his day to day dealings, and sometimes I wonder if he kept a diary or journal like his son Francois Kerby II, did.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful if he had?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rhoda Elizabeth Thurman Doss

My next ancestor is from my Daddy’s side of the family, through his mother Jessie Holeman Doss, and this ancestors name was Rhoda Elizabeth Thurman.  She was possibly a daughter of Labon Thurman of Pittsylvania County, Virginia and she was my third great-grandmother.   Rhoda was born in about 1785 in Virginia, probably in Pittsylvania County.  I don’t know of any siblings or her mother’s name yet, though my Daddy looked for years and I have done some looking myself as well, but so far I have not been able to find anything about her life before she was married.  I do know that there is a Labon Thurman getting married in 1797 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia to a Molly Morris Bow, but if this is Rhoda’s father I still don’t know for certain, but Molly would not be her mother.

Rhoda probably married sometime between 1799 and 1804, possibly in Virginia to Phillip Valorius Doss.   Phillip was a son of James Doss and Elizabeth Lester and was born in about 1775, probably in Pittsylvania County, Virginia as well.  Rhoda and Phillip soon became the parents of at least seven known children with the first four being born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia and the last three in Kentucky possibly in Cumberland or Wayne Counties.

These seven known children were: Joel Burgess Doss 1804-before 1880, married Mildred Hurt (my 2nd great-grandparents); James Doss 1805-1860, married Nancy Hurt (sister to Mildred Hurt); female Doss about 1807-after 1841, married to William R. Doss (He was probably a cousin of hers and I don’t know her first name.  The reason I know about her marriage to W R is from his prison record.  He was sentenced to 2 years for bigamy in October of 1841.  The prison record mentions his 2nd wife by name but not his first wife, only that her brother Philip Doss lives in Marshall County and another brother lives in Rutherford County.); Phillip Valorius Doss, Jr. 1807-1864, married to Sina R. Dixon; Labon Thurman Doss 1811-1887, married to Mary Ann Wilkerson; Samuel William Doss 1812-1895, married to Barbara Rogers and then Mrs. Martha A. Boyd; and the last child, Anna Doss 1813-1888, married to William Choat.

I don’t have any pictures for this part of my family, I wish I did.  However, I do have one of Rhoda’s daughter-in-law, my 2nd great-grandmother, Mildred Hurt Doss, 1807-1884, and it is the following.

Rhoda did not have an easy life and apparently Phillip didn’t help out in that area, because in 1804 he was getting arrested for stealing a hog in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.  It is a wonder that he wasn’t strung up for such an offense, because that was almost as bad as killing someone back in those days.  If you stole food from people that could have been a hanging matter and you could have been thrown out of the town or county as well, people didn’t stand for food being stolen, no matter if you needed it yourself or not.  Phillip Doss is on the tax rolls in Pittsylvania County, Virginia from 1799 to 1810 and by 1811, Rhoda and Phillip and their children are headed for Kentucky.

I don’t find Philip Doss on any records in Kentucky other than being mentioned as the deceased husband of Rhoda Doss.  The following record from Wayne County, Kentucky court records, pages 247-248, shows that Philip Doss was dead by June 14, 1814 when the court, "Ordered that a summons be issued against Rhoda Doss, widow of Philip Doss, deceased, returnable here to the next court to shew cause if any she has or can say why the orphans of the said Philip Doss may not be bound out according to law."  Next in Adair County, Kentucky Court Order Book B, page #494, dated January 3, 1815 - Sheriff ordered to apply $15 toward the support of Rhoda Doss, a poor woman of the county.

Rhoda’s boys were being apprenticed to a few different people after their father’s death and family stories say that Rhoda would sneak them away during the night and go hide out somewhere with her children until the courts caught up with her again.  They were being apprenticed out instead of letting them stay with her, to help her out.  This was a very common practice and it didn’t matter if the father had died or the mother, and especially if the family was poor, they would apprentice the children out.

Here are just a few of the court records I have found where this is happening.   Adair County, Kentucky Deed Book C, page 447, dated November 8, 1814 - Joel Doss, a poor boy of the county apprenticed to William Minter for 9 years, or until he reaches the age of 21.  Minter to teach and instruct apprentice in the art and mystery of cotton carding and spinning.  Said apprentice to be taught reading, writing, and common arithmetic.  Adair County, Kentucky Deed Book C, page 472, dated January 3, 1815 - Phillip Doss, a poor boy of the county apprenticed to Levi McCrocky for 13 years, 5 months, or until he becomes 21 years of age, to be taught the art and mystery of cabinet making.  Adair County, Kentucky Deed Book D, page 397 dated September 9, 1817 - Phillip Doss, poor boy of the county, apprenticed to William Minter to dwell for 9 years and 9 months or until 21, to learn the wool carding business.  Cumberland County, Kentucky Deed Book D, pages 147 & 149, dated November 9, 1819 - William Doss and Laban Doss, poor boys of the county are apprenticed to Samuel G. Cheatham to dwell until 21 years, to serve as apprentices in the art of cabinet making.  He will provide sufficient meat, drink and apparel, washing, lodging, and will teach or cause to be taught and instructed in reading, writing and will provide for such apprentices so there will be no charge to the county during said term, and at expiration of said term pay 3 pounds, 10 shillings and allow a decent suit of new clothes at end of service.  Adair County, Kentucky Deed Book E, page 663, dated April 1, 1822 - William Doss, poor boy of the county, apprenticed to Stephen Rogers until he reaches 21 years, to learn the art and mystery of shoe and boot making.  Adair County, Kentucky Court Order Book B, dated February 3, 1823 - On motion of William Minter by his attorney, it is ordered he be released from his covenant of indentures of apprenticeships binding Joel Doss, James Doss, Philip Doss and John Wheeler as apprentices to him to learn the art and mystery of the cotton spinning and wool carding business, and said apprentices are released from their apprenticeships.  Said boys are bound to Asa and William Pittman to learn same business.

The following maps for Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas show where Rhoda, Phillip and their children all lived throughout the years, from birth till death and are circled in red.

I have found Rhoda on the 1820 and 1830 census records in Cumberland County, Kentucky and some of her children are with her.  By 1840 I haven’t found her, though she could be the female in the 40 to 50 age bracket, in the home of Labon Doss in Barren County, Kentucky.  Then in 1850 she is living with her son, Samuel William Doss, in Christian County, Kentucky.

I don’t know what kind of a home Rhoda and her family lived in, probably log, but it could have been some kind of a clap board as well.  I found a couple of different pictures of what I hope her home may have looked like, but I doubt it looked quite as good as these.

I don’t know when Rhoda died, but family records have always said that she died over in Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri.  On the 1860 census in St. Francois County there is a Lorinda Doss who is 46 born in Kentucky with children also born in Kentucky named: Samuel Doss, age 18, Henry Doss, age 14, James Doss, age 12 and Martha Doss, age 11.  I don’t know who this Lorinda is, but I wonder if somehow she was related to Rhoda and maybe Rhoda was living with her when she passed away.  I found this family on the 1850 census in Barren County, Kentucky all born in Kentucky: James Doss, age 40, Dorinda Doss, age 36, John Doss, age 15, Samuel Doss, age 11, Henry Doss, age 8, James Doss, age 3 and Martha E. Doss, age 1.  I know where Rhoda’s son James Doss lived, married and died and it is not the James Doss who was in Barren County in 1850, my James Doss was in Crittenden County, Kentucky in 1850.  I believe this James Doss was possibly a son of Ambrose Doss.

So as you can see Rhoda Elizabeth Thurman Doss, was a very poor woman.  She raised her children from the time the youngest was less than a year old by herself, after her husband Phillip died.  So many of our women ancestors had to go through very similar things in their lives, you had to be strong back in those days to endure what many of them had to endure.  She never remarried and she was between 65 and 75 years old when she passed away, sometime after the 1850 census was taken and before the 1860 census.  Did she really die in Kentucky, maybe in Christian County or did she go as an older woman to Missouri after 1850 and die there?  There are many questions about her life that I will probably never know, but she is an ancestor we can be proud of, for taking care of her children, and trying to keep them all together.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Philippe Anton DuTrieux

Well I am going to go back quite a bit further then I usually do, this time with an ancestor from my Mom’s side of the family, through her grandmother Mary Belle Fryar Fraley’s line.  My 12th great-grandfather was Philippe Anton DuTrieux, who was born sometime in July or August of 1586 in Roubaix, Nord, Nord-Pas de Calais, France.  It is not known at this time who his parents were and I also do not know where the month, year or place of birth came from originally, but a number of genealogist have this in the records they have found for him, long before I started looking or even knowing about his existence.  My French and Dutch aren’t that great, so I have not done any looking for him myself in France or the Netherlands.  The following shows a map of Roubaix that I found online.

The DuTrieux’s were Walloons, who some say were people of Celtic or Roman stock in northeast France, in present day Belgium, French speaking, who became Protestant in large numbers during the Reformation.  This small area of Europe, which at the time was under Spanish rule, was marked by bloodshed, repression and widespread loss of life.  Many of the DuTrieux family fled and some found sanctuary in England, while a large family group went, in exile, to the Netherlands.  In the Netherlands, which had recently declared its independence from Spain, the DuTrieux’s and other Walloon families settled in Leiden and Amsterdam.  As skilled artisans, these Walloons found employment, assistance, civil and religious freedoms, among these was my Philippe Anton DuTrieux, who was known as a dresser of plush or mock velvet and also as a worsted dyer.

On May 10, 1615 at the Walloon Church in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands Philippe married Jacquemyne Noirett who was born in 1593 in Lille, Nord, Nord-Pas de Calais, France the daughter of Arnould Noirett and Barbe DuChesne who were also Walloons.  They became the parents of four children before Jacquemyne died, shortly after the birth of their fourth child along with that child.  These four children were: Philippe DuTrieux 1616-before February 1619; Marye DuTrieux 1617-after 1670; Philippe DuTrieux 1619-before September 1653 (He may also have been killed by the same Indians who killed his father.); and Madeleine DuTrieux 1620-before March 1620.

Philippe DuTrieux obtained an Act of Betrothal on July 17, 1621 to marry second, Susanna DuChesne a Huguenot from Sedan, Ardennes, Champagne-Ardenne, France and she is the line I come through, not the first wife.   Susanna was baptized June 30, 1602 in Sedan, and was the daughter of Pierre DuChesne and Anne Fabri.  The betrothal record states that Philippe was a widower, aged 34 years, occupation worsted dyer, living in the Runtstreat and Susanna was from Sedan, aged 20 years, orphan, assisted by her cousin Jean Pinson, living in the Bisschopstreate.  Philippe and Susanna were married after their banns were published on August 8, 1621 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands.  The following shows a map of Sedan, France and the area Susanna was from, you can see that she was only to the east a little ways from where Philippe was from in Roubaix, which when I map quested it is about 136 miles.

Philippe and Susanna became the parents of ten known children, the first being born in Amsterdam before they left for America and the rest in New Amsterdam a Dutch settlement established at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in present day New York.  These children were the following: Gerome DuTrieux 1623-before March 1624; Sarah DuTrieux 1624-1692, married Isaac de Forrest; Abraham DuTrieux 1626-1662, married Rosella Hester (They were my 11th great-grandparents and I still haven’t found her maiden name yet.); Susanna DuTrieux 1628-1660, married Evert Janse Wendel; Marie DuTrieux 1630-????; Jan DuTrieux 1632-????; Rachel DuTrieux 134-????, married Hendrick Van Bommel and then Dirk Janse de Groot; Rebecca DuTrieux 1636-????, married Symon Symonse de Groot; Isaac DuTrieux 1642-before 1706, married Maria Williamse Brower; and Jacob DuTrieux 1645-1710, married Elizabeth Post.

The Dutch West India Company was beginning to establish and to develop international commerce and to serve as a military arm of the Netherlands and it is with this group that my Philippe DuTrieux soon joined.  On Wikipedia I found a brief outline about this company.  “The Dutch West India Company was a chartered company (known as the "WIC") of Dutch merchants.  On June 3, 1621 it was granted a charter for a trade monopoly in the West Indies (meaning the Caribbean) by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and given jurisdiction over the Atlantic slave trade, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America.  The area where the company could operate consisted of West Africa (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope) and the Americas, which included the Pacific Ocean and the eastern part of New Guinea.  The intended purpose of the charter was to eliminate competition, particularly Spanish or Portuguese, between the various trading posts established by the merchants.  The company became instrumental in the Dutch colonization of the Americas.”  Philippe and his family along with 29 other families, largely of Walloon stock, entered into a contract with the Dutch West India Company to relocate to America in 1624.  The following picture which I found on Wikipedia, shows The West India House on the Herenmarkt in Amsterdam, headquarters of the West Indian Company from 1623 to 1647.  The picture is a modern day picture as you can tell from the bikes and is attributed to "West-Indisch Huis" by S Sepp - Own work.  Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:West-Indisch_Huis.jpg#/media/File:West-Indisch_Huis.jpg

Philippe DuTrieux had long wanted to come to the America’s and so he and Susanna received a certificate of transfer from the church in Leyden on March 9, 1624 and came to America on the ship ‘New Netherland’ which sailed from Amsterdam in March 1624, with the Captain being, Cornelius Jacobs May of Hoorn and the ship arrived in New Netherland (the America’s) towards the end of May or the first part of June sometime.  This ship sailed with 30 families, mostly Walloons and the captain of this ship, is who Cape May, New Jersey was named for.  When the ship returned to the Netherlands, the captain reported the following: "That everything there was in good condition, meaning in New Amsterdam.  The colony has begun to advance bravely and continues in friendship with the natives.  His cargo on the return voyage consisted of 500 otter skins, fifteen hundred beavers, and a few other things, which were in four parcels, for 28,000 some hundred guilders, on the return trip.”  Their ship would have looked similar to these that I found online at: http://ancestorsbeforeus.blogspot.com/

Philippe and Susanna and their children had the honor of being some of the first citizens of what is now New York.  In 1638, Philippe DuTrieux was appointed Court Messenger or Marshall, by Governor Kieft and on May 22, 1640 he received a patent for the land adjoining Secretary, Cornelius Van Tienhoven’s farm, in Smith’s Valley on Manhattan Island.  Philippe’s land is one of the few early settlers whose land can be easily located, even though he did not take out a patent until 1640, he probably owned it long before that time, since he had been there in the area since 1624.  From the book, “New Amsterdam and It’s People” by J. H. Innes in 1902, I found the following pages that mention my ancestor, Philippe DuTrieux and the land where he lived in present day Manhattan.

Philippe was well known in the New Amsterdam area thankfully, and that helps in knowing more about him as well.  If he had been just a lowly servant or some such, I doubt I would have ever been able to find much about him or his family.  As it is I still don’t know who his parents were, but maybe someday there will be old records that are found hiding, in some old building, that will tell me who they may have been, until then I will keep my eyes open for any clues as to their identity.

Philippe was the father of at least fourteen children and of these fourteen children, at least three died as infants and possibly more.  Philippe and his son, Philippe were both killed by Indians, so the stories go, some say the same day and others say possibly at different times, either way they both died sometime between July 23, 1649 and September 8, 1653 which are dates that both were mentioned in a few different records.  The last date says that Susanna DuTrieux, widow of Philippe is transferring some land, so we know he is dead by September 8, 1653 for sure.  Philippe’s wife Susanna was still living in 1654 and most records say it was September the 8th in either the year 1660 or 1670 that she died, I have not been able to find anything that says a year or a month and day, so I can’t say for certain but I do know she outlived her husband, Philippe.

My ancestors have been here in America for a very long time, and I am proud to say I am one of their many, many descendants.

Friday, September 11, 2015

J B Loftis

Writing these little bios every week has made me laugh, and made me cry, remembering all the good times I had as a child and the times I spent with my Daddy learning about my ancestors and developing a love of family history.  My next ancestor this week is another one I knew personally and just loved to pieces.  After she read my last blog story, my cousins daughter, Monica, ask if I had written one about her grandparents and my reply was not yet and so I thought why not now.  Now read carefully because things might get a little confusing for some of you, we are from the south so this can happen pretty often.  J  My ancestor this week is J B Loftis, Monica’s grandfather and my great-uncle as well as my uncle, he was my Mamaw, Daisy Loftis Fraley’s little brother, but he was also my uncle because he married my Daddy, Frank Beard’s big sister, Helen Beard.  So my Mom’s uncle and aunt became her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, after my Mom married my Dad and her first cousins became her nieces and nephews.  So that means Monica can be my second cousin or my first cousin one generation removed, depending on which side of the family I am looking at.  See I told you that you might get a little mixed up.  J

J B Loftis was born December 5, 1918 in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky the son of Jasper Guy Loftis (nicknames were Jack, Jesse and Jas) and Amy Susan Floyd.  Mamaw told me that Uncle J B was named John Bartley Loftis for his Daddy’s, Daddy but that he never went by that name, only the initials.  Uncle J B’s Daddy worked in the spar mines off and on and so they usually lived in one of the little miners houses near whatever mine his Daddy worked at.  I know that in 1930 his Daddy was working at the Klondyke Mines near Dyer’s Hill in Livingston County, Kentucky and that was where they were living as well.  Uncle J B only went to school up to the sixth grade and went to work at the age of thirteen to help his family keep food on the table.  Unfortunately Uncle J B’s Daddy and my great-grandfather was not a hard worker and so Uncle J B and my Mamaw, both only went to school for a short time before they had to go to work to help their family out.  My Mamaw was able to go to the eighth grade before she had to stop and go to work, cleaning houses, watching children, etc.  For the most part in those early days, Uncle J B worked as a farm laborer, mainly in Crittenden and Livingston Counties in Kentucky.

Uncle J B was one of nine children and the only boy his parents had, he had eight sisters, the oldest was his half-sister Marguerite Rachel Floyd, 1914-2011, who married Curtis Ashby Rushing; Daisy Elnora Loftis, 1917-2006, who married Ermon Edward Fraley (my grandparents); Myrtle Mae Loftis, 1920-1998, who married James Robert Moreland; Christine Virginia Loftis, 1921, who married Joseph Benedict Alvey; Willow Belle Loftis, 1924-1986, who married George E. Watson; Dorothy Elizabeth Loftis, 1927-1929 (she died of whooping cough and pneumonia); Bobbie Laverne Loftis, 1930-1975, who married Paul Gregory and Norma Jean Loftis, 1932, who married William Earl Fox, then Percy Rex Martin.  I was able to go and visit my Aunt Christine, just this past month and I had a wonderful visit with her, I wasn’t able to see Aunt Norma Jean this time though, but I wish I had been able too.  I don’t have many young pictures of Uncle J B, but I do have a few of the girls when they were younger and one of my Mamaw when she was a baby.  The following picture of Uncle J B, I believe was taken before World War II broke out, he was a good looking young man.

Pretty soon, just like in last week’s story, World War II broke out and Uncle J B soon joined the Navy and was sent overseas.  When the World War II Memorial was built in Washington DC, I added his name and a number of other family member’s names to the database that the Memorial has online.  I called Uncle J B and ask him about his service during the war, so I could put a small bio with his picture online.  The following is what he told me, though he didn’t like to say too much about it.  “My service during the war was on an LST in the Mediterranean in the European Theater and I was at Anzio shortly after that battle.  I was also at Sicily and Naples and was working in Amphibious Operations and I received an honorable discharge at the close of the war.”  I wasn’t exactly sure what a ‘LST’ was so I googled it and found the following information: “Landing Ship, Tank (LST) is the naval designation for vessels created during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore.”  The following is a picture of my Uncle J B in his uniform, wasn’t he a handsome fellow, I think his grandson, Justin looks just like him in this picture and the above picture too.

Uncle J B’s daddy had gotten really sick, but he told his wife he was not going to die until all of his boys were home safely from the war.  My Mamaw told me that her Daddy probably had white lung from working in the spar mines, plus she said he drank a lot and that didn’t help matters much.  His son, Uncle J B and his son-in-law, my Papaw, Ermon Fraley, were off fighting overseas and the boys as he called them had only been home a couple of months when Jasper Guy Loftis died on December 22, 1945 from pneumonia, he was only 50 years old.  Uncle J B was the informant on his Daddy’s death certificate and he was buried at the Holiness/Pentecostal Cemetery in Marion.

After the war, Uncle J B returned home to Kentucky and soon met the young girl he would make his wife.  Dorothy Helen Beard, or Helen as she was always known, was the daughter of Aubrey David Beard and Jessie Holeman Doss.  Aunt Helen was born June 1, 1926 also in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky and was the oldest child, while my Daddy was their youngest.  Uncle J B and Aunt Helen were married August 31, 1946 in Morganfield, Union County, Kentucky.  The following are just a few pictures of this wonderful couple when they were young.

Aunt Helen had moved with her father and her six younger siblings to California in 1942, where they had settled in the little town of Woodlake in Tulare County.  However, she had come back to Kentucky after the war ended to visit her mother who lived in Marion, and that is when she and Uncle J B started to date.  My Daddy wrote a little bio about all of his siblings and this is what he said about Aunt Helen and Uncle J B.  “She left California in July 1946 and went back to Kentucky to live with Mother and Pa Corley.  The next month she married J B Loftis, whom she had known before ever moving to California.  They lived in Marion for several months before deciding to head for California.  Their first child, Donnie, was started in Kentucky, but born in Exeter, California.”  Shortly after they were married, they decided to go out to California to look for work, since jobs weren’t readily available in Kentucky and Uncle J B did not want to go to work in the mines.  This next picture is of Uncle J B, with his brother-in-law, Don Beard, in 1947 and the next one is of Uncle J B, Aunt Helen and Donnie in 1948.

Uncle J B and Aunt Helen had five children all born in Tulare County, California and they are: Donnie, Brenda, Sheryl, Susie and Billy and they had nine grandchildren: Lisa, Jason, Darrell, Ricky, Ryan, Tyson, Kaila, Monica and Justin and they now have a number of great-grandchildren as well, I believe that number is thirteen, if I haven’t missed any that is.  They lived in Ivanhoe for just a short time, but the rest of the time they lived in Woodlake, eventually Uncle J B built them a home there and his son Billy lives in that house to this day.  This house is the only one I really remember ever going to and I loved to go visit them there.  This next picture is of Aunt Helen with her two oldest girls Donnie and Brenda at the city park in Woodlake.

Uncle J B and Aunt Helen always had family stopping to visit and even stay with them for a while off and on.  Even though they didn’t have a lot they would help in any way they could if family needed something.  Uncle J B became a carpenter and built a number of homes and other buildings throughout Tulare County.  My Daddy even told me that Uncle J B helped to build the old lodge in Sequoia National Park as well.  I also remember many times as a kid going to visit in Woodlake and going up to Sequoia and Three Rivers for picnics with all the family, many memories were made during those times.   I believe the following picture of Uncle J B was taken up there in the park. 

We also went to Mooney’s Grove in Visalia for lots of picnics too.  This next picture shows me and Brenda with Aunt Helen and Sheryl at Mooney’s Grove in 1959.  The next picture is also at Mooney’s Grove in 1963 and shows my Papaw Beard in the wheelchair with Susie in front of him, then behind is Brenda, Helen, Donnie, Sheryl and J B, Billy wasn’t born to later this year.  The next picture shows Uncle J B with his son Billy in 1965 at their home in Woodlake.

Uncle J B’s Momma, my great-grandmother, Amy Susan Floyd Loftis, suffered a stroke at her home in Marion and died on November 8, 1968 at the hospital in Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky.  I remember her very well as she came to my Mamaw’s house quite frequently when I was little.  I remember that she was always dressed nicely and her hair and makeup were always done too.  She was buried at Union Baptist Church Cemetery in Crittenden County and so they had her husband moved from the Holiness Cemetery to Union shortly after and buried them side by side.  I know Uncle J B and his sister Christine went to Holiness to identify where he had been buried when they dug the grave up.  Uncle J B told me that his Daddy’s hair looked like it had grown longer then when he was buried and was still very red.  The following picture of Uncle J B and Aunt Helen is also from the 1960’s as is this picture of their house I believe.

Life went along with all its ups and downs, the kids grew up and started families of their own.  Uncle J B continued doing construction work and Aunt Helen worked at the packing plant there in Woodlake.  After I graduated from high school in 1976, I went out and stayed with Uncle J B and Aunt Helen for the summer and my cousin, Sheryl’s friend gave me a job at his pizza parlor.  I had a great time staying there, but ended up going back home, which was now in Utah, where my parents had moved, and found a job at a hospital in Salt Lake City.  I don’t remember what year it was, but I think it was in the 1980’s, Uncle J B fell while working on a job site from at least 2 or 3 stories up and landed on some rebar and the doctors thought for sure he should have been dead, but it missed all his vital organs if I remember correctly.  After being in the hospital for quite a while he was finally able to be released and slowly regained his health and strength back, but never like it was before the accident.  I don’t think he went back to work afterwards either.  I should have ask one of his kids for more details, but I was wanting to get this story out before I got any further behind.

Here are just a few more pictures of this couple through the years, all the pictures are at their house in Woodlake, except for the first one which is out in the yard at my grandparents, Daisy and Ermon Fraley’s house in Hebbardsville, Henderson County, Kentucky. 

On July 22, 2004 at his home in Woodlake, Uncle J B breathed his last breath here on earth with his wife and children by his side.  A nickname that he was known by in his family was the old Growler, because it seemed he was always growling about something, but we all loved him, even when he growled and I sure do miss him, as does everyone else in the family.  Me, my daughter Amy and my sister Deanna and her son Shane, drove out from Utah to Uncle J B’s funeral.  Not only did I go for myself, but we also went for my Mom and Dad and for Uncle J B‘s sisters, Marguerite, Daisy, Christine and Norma Jean, none of whom were able to go for themselves.  Uncle J B was buried at the Woodlake District Cemetery in Woodlake, California on July 27, 2004.  Aunt Helen lived just five more years and died one month after my Daddy on August 26, 2009 and was laid to rest next to her sweetheart.  They had been married for 58 years when Uncle J B past away.  Here are pictures of their graves there in Woodlake, the front of the cemetery and their daughter Sheryl, holding the framed memorial picture I gave to her on the day of his funeral, that I had received from the World War II Memorial, for submitting Uncle J B’s name and military info.

Monica, I hope you enjoy this brief little bio about your grandfather, I sure loved him too and miss him every day as well as Aunt Helen and all the others who have passed away.  Look at that smile and remember always he is smiling down on all of us.