Sunday, February 26, 2012

Following Donnie’s (Florance Irene Sholl Howell)

Written by Sally-- Thanks!

The Howells and Brewers come from Bradford Upon Avon in England, and the surrounding areas. The nearest large city is Bath (famous for its ruins of Roman baths). William Howell married Sophia Brewer in 1852 in the Holy Trinity Church in Bradford Upon Avon (Avon=river in Celtic, and indeed, it is on a river). We visited there when my mom took Miranda and I to England, specifically to see where our family came from. It’s a charming little town in which it is not hard to imagine what it looked like 100 years ago.

The Brewer and Palmer lines (Sophia’s parents) go back to the region of Somerset—a seaside region that Jane Austen actually writes about in the same time period that our ancestors were there (I think in Persuasion particularly). There is a seaside tourist resort town called Weston-Super-Mare where Jane Palmer (Sophia’s mother) was born. In this region they are famous for making cheddar cheese, particularly in these ancient caves, also called Wookey Holes, near the seashore where the internal temperature stays the same year round and is ideal for making
cheddar (I think it was 52 degrees). ( As this Wikipedia article also states, they were famous for paper mills, which are unfortunately all closed down now. And, of course, it was largely an agricultural area.

Ernest Frederick Howell (b. 17 Dec 1864) is the son of William Howell and migrated to the US,
in 1873 (acc to the 1910 US Census), meaning he would have been 9. More likely he came in 1894, as the 1920 Census says. His older brother Walter and his wife, Sarah, were already here, too (per 1920 census they came in 1881). The records say their mother, Sophia, died in England in 1900, and his father (no location) in 1901 (but it seems likely he would have been there, too). He married Donnie’s mother, Mary Belle Keen, in Cinncinnati, Ohio in 1898. They went first to Fruit Heights, Alameda in the San Fransisco area, where their first daughter Ida Etta died (stillborn or soon after). They moved to Los Angeles, where in 1900 another daughter was born—Ruth Ernestine, who died before turning two. Grandma Pat says that after her Grandma Mary got pregnant again with Donnie, she went back to Ohio to have the baby. She wanted to be near her mother after having lost the first two. Donnie always said she should be considered a native Californian because they lived there before and after she was born, and being born in Ohio was just a fluke.

In LA, they lived in the big house that Grandpa Pat later grew up in with her uncles Bill and Dick. We had a dollhouse modeled after it that Uncle Bill made. The original house is gone now, but I think it was in Highland Park, or thereabouts. The 1910 census says Ernest was a window-dresser for a grocery and wine store there in LA. They had his wife Mary Belle Keen’s parents (John Morris Keen and Emily B. Sholl) and older brother (Arthur) living there with them. There was also a boarder, Horace Young—a carpenter. By 1920, Ernest is a salesman in a grocery store. They have the two boys, Bill and Dick, and the boarder—Horace Young—is still living there at age 70. He must’ve felt like family at that point.

Mary Belle Keen was the daughter of John Morris Keen and Emily Sholl. John Morris had married her older sister Mary Catherine, who died after 2 and ½ years of marriage in 1870. The next year John married Emily (on most census records she is called Emma, perhaps because her mother is also Emily). The Sholls were trunk manufacturers in Ohio. On the 1880 Census, John Morris and Emma and children are living with her parents—the George Washington Sholl family. The Sholls seem to be wealthy enough to have had an Irish maid living with them in 1880. But George Washington Sholl dies 5 years later. By 1900 (per census), John Morris is living in the Old Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Erie, Ohio. This wikipedia article explains more about what those were: (

John Morris Keen was a Civil War vet from the Ohio 50th regiment, company E (found
on familysearch civil war records)—which came from Highland County, where he lived. He
would’ve been 19 when the regiment was formed in 1862. This regiment seems to have first
defended Ohio, and then was sent down South and took part in Sherman’s burning of Atlanta
( It is unclear why John Morris was living at the veteran’s home in 1900 (age 57). Perhaps they were so poor that he went to live in the Old Soldiers’ Home while Emma went home to Winston Place? or maybe he was ill or disabled? In 1900, Emma is living with her now widowed mother Emily and working as a dress maker. Her son, Arthur (age 24) is with her, working as a sign salesman. Their daughter Mary Belle (Grandma Mary) is already married and living in LA. Curiously, the census says Emma is a widow, but John Morris’s says he’s married (census error?). By the 1910 census they are all living together with their daughter Mary Belle in the LA house, including Mary’s brother Arthur. I wonder if they all came back with Mary once Donnie was born. It certainly is hard to keep a grandmother away from her beautiful grandchildren!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thomas H. Giles

Although Thomas Huskinson Giles isn't our direct ancestor, he is Frederick's brother. So the information in the link above is interesting. It describes how Thomas joined the church, and then brought it back home to his family, who also joined and traveled to Zion with him.

Just click on his name above, and it will take you to a chapter in Google Books all about Thomas. It was written in 1889, while Thomas was still alive, so presumably, he had some editorial say as to accuracy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Elizabeth "Lois" Hess

Here's the PDF file of the biography Robin wrote of Grandma Giles.

Biography of Lois Hess

The Schooley Girls

Grandma remembers her favorite grandmother, Jennie Schooley Clark, telling of her childhood and her sisters, Nettie, and Meda, Nanny, and Blanche. Jennie described their father as a harsh and rather unkind man, and when their mother died in childbirth with Helen, the family was devastated. Blanche was "adopted" by a family named Noble, but most of the girls had a struggle. Ephraim eventually remarried and had another child, but only Benjamin remained with him. The story below was told by Nettie to her oldest daughter, Wilma Hackley Hawley:

"Nettie Schooley was born in 1888 to Julia Bantam Schooley and Ephraim Schooley in Iola Kansas. She was the fifth child in the family of six. The first child was Benjamin, followed by Jennie, Blanche, Meda, Nettie, Nanny and Helen, who died at her birth along with their mother.
After their mother's death, homes had to be found for the children. Benjamin stayed with his father. The girls were mostly placed in homes where help was needed. Nettie was past the cute small child age, she was about eight years old, and not old enough to do real work. She became a kind of 'Little Orphan Annie,' looking after smaller children and doing menial chores. She lived with different families.

Finally, in her early teens she came to live with a young unmarried woman named Libby who owned a horse farm in Kansas. Libby became very fond of Nettie, and treated her very nicely. Although Nettie was expected to help, and follow certain rules, she was soon treated more like a daughter than hired help. Libby bought her the first really nice clothes that she had ever had. She had photos taken of her, and seemed very proud of her.

One afternoon when Nettie came home from school she saw a very handsome young man about to come through the garden gate that she was planning to enter. He graciously opened the gate for her and stood by as she went through. This young man was William Edgar Hackley. He had come to apply for the position of horse trainer and had been hired.

As time went on, Edgar was often invited to have dinner with Libby and Nettie. Of course he was there because of a mutual romantic interest between Libby and himself, but he always paid special attentiion to Nettie. He called her his little sweetheart and often gave her presents. Not realizing the reality of what was happening, she fell 'madly in love' with him. Her life became all that she had ever hoped for. She had a home, all the things that the other young people had, probably more--and she was in love!

One nice Sunday afternoon Libby asked Nettie if she would like to take a girl friend for a drive. She could have one of the fancy buggies and a special horse and did not need to be home until late afternoon. Would she ever?

She returned to find Libby and Edgar in the Parlor. That was a surprise, because the Parlor was only used for special occasions. Libby and Edgar were 'all smiles'. Libby said, 'Nettie sit down. I have something that I want to ask you. How would you like to have Edgar for your 'Daddy'?

As the significance of that question became clear Nettie's dream world began to crumble. As quickly as she could she excused herself and hurried to her special place in the hay mow in the barn. She cried and cried--but could only cry so long--because she had chores to do--and dinner to prepare. She dried her eyes--tried to make herself presentable, and climbed down to face the real world.

Edgar and Libby were married. Nettie's home was not the happy place that it had been. But she was growing up. Time has a way of making unhappy circumstances bearable, and life goes on.
Edgar and Libby had not been married very long--maybe two or three years when Libby died suddenly of a stomach ailment, probably appendicitis.

Edgar was eleven years older than Nettie but after a time he began courting Nettie. He won her heart and her hand--but the magic was gone. Nettie and Edgar had three children. Wilma Hackley Hawley, born Dec 3, 1909. Fern Helen Hacklely Sceales, born Nov 26, 1912, William Edgar Hackley Jr. born Mar 8, 1916.

Nettie passed away at age 39, in 1927
Edgar passed away at age 58, in 1929. Dates taken from data of Nettie,
Fern Hackley Sceales."

Mads Frederock Theobald Christensen

If you click on the link below, you'll be linked to a website with his journal. Mads was Nana's grandfather, and the brother of CCA Christensen--the painter. His mother, Dorothea, was so poor that she had to put her boys in an orphanage. In the journal, Mads tells about living in the orphanage, being apprenticed to an abusive master, joining the Church and his journey to Zion. Might be a good family night story!

If you are interested in exploring the website further, it's linked to and has lots of journals from many of the pioneers. James Sanderson, Nana's other grandfather, is listed and it mentions his experience with the Mormon Battalion, but his journal isn't included. One of these days I'll try to get it scanned and posted here.

Note: Dorothea is buried in the SLC Pioneer Cemetery, listed only as "A Danish Woman.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

At 85--What's Left?

The following reflection was written by Grampa Bruce today. He said I could share it with the family. I've kept his punctuation and formatting.
I did a little math and found out this birthday is number 85. All this past year I have said I was old and 82. That is my reason for things I cannot do. Somehow I lost 3 years. That’s ok because now I can do things at 85 that I could last week at 82!

I reflect on what I have learned in 85 years—it really doesn’t seem like such a long time. I don’t remember the first few years—Monrovia, Indianola, Salt lake. But I begin to have clarity of events the hospital—Palms—Utah—school in Fairview—taking care of my sister in her time of need. My grandfather and grandmother are clear—and with my always. She telling me to “show a little brass, boy! Speak up.” J.W. showing me how to work and keep going. My cousins in Fairview were like brothers—they showed me country stuff—I told them about airplanes and Hollywood.

My time in different schools, work, etc. Boys’ Market and time in the Navy—my friendship with Paul, Bill, trips with them to Big Bear—all are catalogued like they just happened.

My most beloved companion, Pat, as part of my life is not visible, but with me every day since she said we would wed—and she made me much better than I was.

I suppose we had ups and downs, but they have faded from memory. I remember the joy we had with a family of great kids. Why those special people were given to us, I do not know, only that we were blessed with what the Lord had sent. I am convinced of the gospel—and try to abide the principles—but these four children are my greatest blessing and we are thankful for them. Pat and I often together counted our blessings—and thanked the Lord for them.

It doesn’t seem long ago—so many things have happened—but it was. It has been said that crisis + time = humor. It must be so—I forget the big problems. The world is a mess. People are mixed up—afraid—greedy. All would be so simple if they followed God’s plan. Happiness is there, not hard to find. Sort out the good—throw out the bad. It’s so much easier a way to live. We have within us the freedom of choice. We are all God’s children.

85 isn’t all bad—we just go slower.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Grandma Mary

I thought maybe I should post my own memories of my Great-grandmother, Mary Howell. I was very young when she died, so there's not much, but Nancee and I are the only ones in the family who may still have a memory of her.

She was Donnie's mother and lived in the big house that we used to have a doll-house replica of. She lived on the "ground floor"--even though it required going up several steps to get the the wide old-fashioned porch to get to it. The house itself was surrounded by large trees of many varieties. Grandma Pat always said that her grandfather, Ernest Frederick Howell, had come from England with a love of gardening and planted everything he could find, and that he had quite a few rather unusual specimens. Mom always said that my love of gardening must have come through from him. He also owned a general mercantile store in the Highland Park area that was fairly well-known for several years. He had a reputation as being stern with the children, but he died long before I was born, so I never met him.

Mary was the opposite. I remember going to the house and being sucked into the warm, old-lady smell of it, and then wrapped up in Grandma Mary's ample bosom as she hugged us each. I don't remember her as being very tall, and since I was only about 5, she may well have been on the short side. I seem to remember her with grey/white hair in an old-fashioned bun on the back of her head, and I think of her with floral prints, and she was soft and loving. It seems she had a piano in a small, parlor-like room, but I don't remember her playing it. It was a treat to go and we didn't do it very often, but there wasn't much to do in the house, and she didn't like us to be noisy. So mostly we headed outside to run around the back yard and explore the basement--which was full of all kinds of junk and antiques. No one then thought there was much difference! The one treasure I had been promised when she died was an old wind-up Victrola in a tall cabinet--just like in old movies. I believe it even played, and there was a stack of records. We were each to choose one thing we wanted from the basement as a memento, and that was mine. But when the house sold, the Victrola went with it. I doubt if Donnie remembered my request, or perhaps never knew about it--I was rather timid about stating what I wanted in those days. Ah well.

I remember going there once when I was about 5 and Nancee would have been about 3, to spend a few days with Ray and Donnie, who lived in the upstairs floor. I don't remember a lot of communication between the two families--I'm not sure my grandfather got along real well with his mother-in-law. But there was a stairwell at the back of the house that went between the two floors--from kitchen to kitchen that was fun to explore. It did feel like exploring since I was there so seldom; I wasn't particularly comfortable in the house and it all seemed strange everytime. About all I remember of that trip is a big soft bed in a bedroom that faced the front street and taking a trip on the freeway-probably to go back home--and seeing the Oscar Meyer Weiner Wagon on the freeway, going the other direction.

Many of the old antiquey things I have around my house came from that house when Mary died. In Mom's cedar chest is an ancient black mantilla that she has had since I was very young, and she said came from that family--for which she had no explanation except that "in the old days women covered their heads in church." But I don't believe anyone was Catholic, so I don't know where it would have come from. There is also a set of ivory dressing table items. There's a button hook, a powder holder, a brush and several other functional pieces. Also the brass teapot and the little table in the family came from Mary's house.

As I said, there aren't a lot of memories of Mary, but Mom loved the old house and growing up there with her older cousins, Bill and Dick. She had lots of stories--some of which ended up in Tag's Journal--her legacy to all of us.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mad Frederick Christensen

If you click on the title, Mads Frederick Christensen, you'll be linked to a website with his journal. Mads was Nana's grandfather, and the brother of CCA Christensen--the painter. His mother, Dorothea, was so poor that she had to put her boys in an orphanage. In the journal link above, Mads tells about living in the orphanage, being apprenticed to an abusive master, joining the Church and his journey to Zion. Might be a good family night story!

If you are interested in exploring the website further, it's linked to LDS. org and has lots of journals from many of the pioneers. James Sanderson, Nana's other grandfather, is listed and it mentions his experience with the Mormon Battalion, but his journal isn't included.

Note: Dorothea is buried in the SLC Pioneer Cemetery, listed only as "A Danish Woman."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Susanna Eastman Swan

Susanna Eastman is the stuff of great family legend—a strong frontier woman who despite a number of trials, lived a long and respected life, even inspiring a commemorative poem written by a grand-daughter to teach the next generation about courage, grace and honor.

Susanna was born in 1673 in Haverhill (pronounced Hav-r‘ll), Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Philip Eastman whose father had immigrated on the ship “Confidence” in 1638. (Sidestory: on the ship’s manifest, Roger Eastman is listed as the servant of John Saunders, but family legend says that he was hiding his true rank for political reasons.)

Despite any rank, real or pretended, the family settled in Haverhill, an outpost on the edge of civilization and an area that was easy prey for Indians during King Phillip’s War. Philip Eastman and others were attacked on May 3, 1676. The details are hazy, but somehow Philip, her father, escaped. Although it can’t be verified, but family stories say that Susanna was captured by the Indians and trained as a “medicine woman.” There is no further history of her until 1693 when she reappears and marries Thomas Wood. The next year, she has a daughter also named Susanna.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of her Indian trouble. On March 15, 1697 the Indians returned. This time they burned the house, took Susanna again, and killed little Susanna and everyone else in the home. Thomas may have been captured and somehow escaped; in some way he survived, left the area, and died in 1714 in Woodstock.

Eventually the General Court arranged for a ship, the Province Galley, to go Casco Bay, to deal with the Indians and bring back anyone they could. Susannah returned on board the ship January 17, 1699. She had been captive for nearly 2 years.

In August of 1699 she married John Swan. But even then, the Indians weren’t through with her. It is said that they came in August 1708, looking especially for her as they wanted her knowledge of “medicine.” There are several versions of the assault, but the story we hear is that Susanna, thoroughly disliking anything to do with Indians by this time, was not about to be captured again. When she heard the attack begin, she armed herself with a spit from the fireplace. As an Indian brave opened the cabin door, Susanna grabbed the spit and ran him through. That, and possibly other efforts, seem to have repelled the attack.

Following that attack, she is supposed to have told her husband that they “must away” from there since the Indians were on her trail. So the family moved to Stonington, Connecticut, where they lived in relative peace.

As a side note, poor John Swan seems not to have fared too well in the family lore. He is represented as a bit of a bumbler. Once Susanna decided the family had to move out of Indian territory, everything was in an uproar on moving day. The big washtub was on the front porch, being used as a cradle for the baby while the work was going on. As everything was finished, the family and goods were all loaded onto the wagon. John did a last check to make sure everything was complete, and they set off. Unfortunately, a few miles down the road, Susanna noticed that the baby was missing. John had forgotten to pack the wash-tub/cradle, and little William had been left on the porch. Apparently John never lived that one down!

The home that John built in Stonington has survived even today. It was bought and renovated by a young couple who were interested in historical buildings. It now forms a portion of their larger, beautifully restored home and is identified as a historical landmark. (See the picture above.)

Susannah lived to be 100 years old. She is buried beside John in the Old Plains Cemetery. The site is marked by a unique headstone on which is carved the face of a very old lady, said to be Susannah. She lived a long and full life, becoming the mother of seven and the ancestor of countless others spread throughout that area and across the nation. Much of her story can be verified; much of it cannot and is lost except in family lore. Whether all that is “remembered” is true or not, Susanna is still an inspiration to her family. The following poem was written by one of her descendents.

Susannah Swan

While wintry winds are sighing around our cottage door,
And deepening snows are drifting the garden hillocks o’er,
We’ll pile the logs still higher upon the hearth’s red glow,
And tell a tale of olden time, our grandsire used to know.

How the prowling Indians came, and stole Susannah Swan away
To their lonely forest camp ground, and made her captive stay;
While hearts were sore and aching in Haverhill’s busy town.
As vainly her kinsfolk sought with runners up and down.

Her eyes were bright and winsome, her voice was sweet and clear,
Her heart was staunch and brave, and never shrank with fear,
As far from home and kindred, within the dark green wood,
Beside their rude built cabins, the lonely captive stood.

She sang them songs at twilight; returning from the chase
The dusky warriors gathered round, and gazed upon her face
Whose loveliness and purity had like a vision rolled
Before their darkened minds in sunset hues of gold.

They held her long for ransom, those children of the wild;
The warriors gave her bear’s meat, the swarthy women piled
Their softest furs for her a couch beside their wigwams fire,
And sought to soothe by kindly deeds her longing heart’s desire.

To while away the weary day, her willing hands oft strove
To form the baskets varying shape, to plait the mats they wove;
Yet in the silent night time, when she laid her fair head down,
Her active mind was planning to regain old Haverhill’s town.

Each night her songs she lengthened out—it banished all their care,
As echoes of their tenderness was wafted on the air;
They slept the sleep of nature, unbroken, deep and long.
It made their brown limbs supple; it made their wild hearts strong.

In the first cool days of autumn, ere the summer took her flight,
She placed her shoes outside the door one calm and moonlight night.
Her songs were low and sweeter, as they laid them down to rest;
She sang of home and freedom from the fount within her breast.

And still the melody grew lower, till slumber fell profound
Upon those children of the wild stretched upon the ground.
God gave her strength to bravely dare, He led her safely o’er
Those prostrate forms of sleeping foes; and thus she gained the door.

Grasping her shoes with stealthy step, no sound broke upon the ear,
She glided down the well-worn path and sought the trail so near;
The giant trees, with sheltering arms, securely hid her flight,
As the brave woman struggled on that bright and starlight night.

Her feet were sore and bleeding, her limbs were bruised and torn,
Yet she was miles and miles away at breaking of the morn.
That trail is now one cultured field that buds and blooms for man;
Then drear and lonely was the way that fearless woman ran.

And there was great rejoicing, with goodly words of cheer
From pastor and from people, from kinsfolk far and near,
That God had shown His mercy, protecting through the wild,
And, bringing home in safety, had thus redeemed His child.

She lived one hundred years. That brave old heart of yore
To children’s children told the tale they since repeated o’er,
As gathered round the blazing logs in winter’s stormy time,
What I have told again tonight and blended into rhyme.

Dear little niece, whose wondering eyes have never left my face,
To you, with joy, I dedicate these lines I trace.
Be brave of heart, like her of old, amid the world’s rude strife,
And crowned with grace and loveliness, long lead a noble life.

William and Sarah Huskinson Giles--first Giles members

This is a census record for 1851 in Nottingham, England. It was William Giles' son, Thomas, who first joined the church. You can see that they have a missionary living with them at this time. By 1853 the whole family had begun the emigration to Utah.

Do you want me to re-post Thomas' story on this blog?