with her sister Marguerite and my grandfather Clarence
Christmas 1979: Mimi trying on her new Christmas gift
with her sister Marguerite and my grandfather Clarence
In a previous post, we settled on August 4, 1889 as the most reasonable date of birth for Joseph Bushrod White, Sr. Not only do the official documents existing during his lifetime indicate this date, but also almost every available census record shows his age as being in line with this information. The only exception would be the 1930 census taken on April 17th, which shows him being 41 years old. For now, I will just assume that this was an error. The 1940 census has him marked down at 50 in the month of April of that year. By August 4th, he would be 51.
Joseph was born to Benjamin Bushrod White and Lucinda Elizabeth Garner. While we have a sufficient amount of information about his mother, there is a good deal of uncertainty surrounding Benjamin. At one time, I had read a story on another family history website that he had died at a young age in 1898. While riding a bicycle in the rain, he supposedly contracted pneumonia and couldn't recover. But that entire website mysteriously disappeared. At any rate, I am fairly certain that he passed away before 1900 because other records show that Lucinda was remarried to a man with the surname Keel by this time. Hopefully when I return to the States, I can make a trip to Comanche - Joseph's birthplace - and get to the bottom of this mystery.
Another issue that shrouds Joseph's early years is the fact that the 1890 census is missing. This is frustrating for just about all genealogists in the U.S., and I'll explain why it happened in an upcoming post. At any rate, there are still a few things we can be fairly certain of. Joseph was the firstborn, not only in his immediate family, but also in bearing our particular surname White in Texas, his father having moved from Alabama to Comanche before his birth. Secondly, he had at least four younger siblings:
And lastly, Joseph was no older that 11 years of age when his father passed away. This must have left Lucinda in a difficult position having to find a way to take care of five young children on her own. By 1900, however, the census taken in June shows the whole family included in the household of Lucinda's second husband G. R. Keel. I still get the sense that this made for a rough childhood for Joseph.
By 1910, we find Joseph (also known simply as "Joe") in Cisco, Texas in Eastland County, just under 50 miles north of Comanche. He was also three years into his marriage with Eulah Peyton Williams.
Here's a photograph of the four boys together. I would guess that the fifth son
J. B., Jr. (born in 1921, and not in the photograph) was just a baby at this time.
Just briefly before closing this post, I'll mention that the 1910 census indicates that Joseph and Eulah had three boarders living with them as well as Joseph's uncle Wilbur Garner (age 31). My great grandfather had a number of seemingly unrelated occupations throughout his life. At this time, the census shows that he ran a business as a tailor. I'm not sure if the term "haberdasher" would apply, but he clearly did some sort of work with clothing while living in Cisco. And at least one of the boarders was working for or with him in this venture.
Coming up in the next post...
Allie Delphia Williams opens a hotel near the coast, and the family is on the move!
My grandfather Clarence White rarely talked to me about his father. I have no suspicions as to the reason for this silence. There are at least a couple of simple stories floating around which I can share at some point in the future. Generally speaking, the most obscure leaves on my family tree are those hanging directly on the White branch.
Nevertheless, I've made some progress, so I'll begin with my great grandfather Joseph Bushrod White. It's an unusual middle name which he apparently inherited from his father Benjamin Bushrod White. A rare surname meaning "young shrub", its etymology is from the Old English words "bysc", meaning a bushy thicket, and "rod", which refers to a clearing in a forest.
Funny-sounding middle names aside, Joseph was born in Mercers Gap, a tiny community in the southwest corner of Comanche County, Texas. He was indeed the first of our White family surname to be born in Texas. His father and his grandfather, also named Joseph, had eventually migrated to the Lone Star State from Alabama by way of Mississippi. The population of Mercers Gap in 1890 was about twenty people. The town/area was named after Jesse Mercer who brought the first settlers to Comanche in the late 1840s.
There is a bit of uncertainty on Joseph's actual date of birth. His death certificate has July 4, 1888 handwritten as his birth date. Every other document available to me, his registration cards for both world wars and the Social Security and Claims Index, state that he was born on August 4, 1889. Although someone else filled in his information on the registration cards, he was obviously there for himself to confirm the date, and he signed off on the truthfulness of the details. The informant on Joseph's death certificate was his eldest son Herbert, so I suppose the chances are greater that the error lies therein.
Speaking of signatures, here is an image of Joseph's as found on a military registration card during World War I. According to the 1940 Census, my great grandfather had about a third-grade level of education. Not so uncommon for men of his generation who lived in rural areas of Texas and other parts of the country.
Perhaps Joseph's lack of proficiency in penmanship was compensated for by other labor-intensive skill sets. We'll take a further look into his work experience, family and travels around Texas in one of my next posts. Stay tuned!
Date: around 1945
Seated at center: Joseph Bushrod White, Sr. and Eulah Peyton Williams
Adults standing from left to right:
Ralph Ray Musgrove and Ollie Dell White,
Margaret Lucille Cook and Joseph Bushrod White, Jr.,
Joyce Adelle White,
Mary Frances Foreman and Herbert Lucian White,
Nora Mae Preece and Ross Edison White,
Gladys Mozelle Reed and Benn Wesley White,
Margaret Virginia Dunaway and Clarence Otho White
*Lots of kids in this picture. I see my dad and his sister, but I don't want to take a chance and misidentify any of the others.
Some notes on Joseph and Eulah - my great grandparents - coming soon!
Spending as much of my younger years at my grandmother's house as I did, there is no shortage of stories and memories. I wish I had a time machine to go back to about the year 1981 - don't we all? - and photograph the home's interior. One room, in particular, we would humorously refer to as the museum. There were all sorts of things one wasn't allowed to touch, especially if one was under the age of twelve. And even then, you would somehow sense that it was a naughty thing to get too close to the antique china or bulging blue porcelain vase that sat on an "antique" cherry wood table.
Everything was antique in that room. Everything was polished with the strangely delightful odor of Lemon-scented Pledge. And therefore, fingerprints were easily discernible. There was one item in the museum that I was allowed, no, required to touch. The Baldwin baby grand piano. My parents started me on lessons when I was around six years old. Since my after-school destination was Grandmother's house, it only made sense that I should devote at least forty-five minutes of my afternoon towards practice there Monday through Friday.
As a child, you don't normally adopt an appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes into creating an instrument like this one. The burgundy wood casing, the ivory keytops that were one at a time coming unglued, and the creaking storage bench with its collection of hymnals and dated instructional books - all of these and more I was able to experience daily as I worked out my major and minor scales and arpeggios.
Although this piano was in Margaret Dunaway's home, it originally belonged to her mother, Julia Mae Maraman. I called my great grandmother "Mimi". And although she passed away in 1980, I still have a few poignant memories of her.
Finally, my dear aunt - Margaret's daughter - was pleased to take it into her home. She had the piano appraised, and it turns out that this piano was actually made in 1925. I don't think Mimi bought it brand new, though I suppose it's possible. Either way, this beautiful piece of history somehow made it into her possession. It is still with us to this day, a treasure of the past, her past and ours.
When working through the never-ending process of exploring one's family history, perhaps one of the greatest rewards, at least to me, is finding a relevant story to share about an individual. The truth be told, this is no easy thing to accomplish, especially the farther one goes back. Thankfully, I've got quite a few things to share about my dear grandfather, Clarence Otho White.
During my elementary days at Bethany Lutheran, my mother would drop me off at my grandparent's house before heading to work each morning. Their house, which was the final residence for Granddad, was 609 English Street in the Lindale subdivision of Houston, Texas.
He would walk into the kitchen dressed for work and pour a cup of coffee. (I remember asking my grandmother once if I could try some, and she told me I wouldn't like it because it was bitter. Ever since that day, I have avoided coffee - even coffee cake or coffee-flavored ice cream - like the plague.) Then, he would carry his tray into the den with a plate of toast and eggs sunny-side-up for breakfast. They looked more like "runny-side-up" to me.
The 7 o'clock morning news would be playing on the Zenith console TV - you know, those television sets that doubled as a piece of polished furniture. Granddad always had a copy of the Houston Chronicle at hand. After perusing the headlines, he would fold up the paper, especially the sports section, tuck it under his arm and head out the door to take me to school.
It was only a five or six-minute drive, but those short rides with this special man in his dusty old burgundy-colored Ford LTD still travel through the maps of my mind to this day. I can't say I remember all the little things we talked about, though some I still do. But it was the songs, the short funny songs he sang to me and taught me to sing on the way to school. Here's an example:
Yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today
We have string beans and onions
Cabbages and scallions
And all kinds of fruit, and say
We have an old fashioned tomato
A Long Island potato
But yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today.
It goes without saying that those lyrics made little sense to a six-year-old boy like me, but this morning tradition was my grandfather's personal way of bonding with his first grandson.