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!
James Wesley Bayne and Julia Barclay McCord were married on December 29, 1881 in Jefferson County, Indiana. He was twenty years old, and she was eighteen at the time. Together they had at least eight children, one of whom was my great grandfather Cleveland Martin Bayne. They are buried side by side in Moffett Cemetery in Milton, Kentucky.
In 1837 while on patrol with his partner Gerald Bode, both officers were viciously gunned down at a gas station during a confrontation with armed suspects. The following is a report on the incident as found at the Police Memorial Society website:
「On Saturday, December 18, 1937, at 11:00 pm, Patrolmen Virgil Bayne and Gerald Bode were shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire at Mullen's Service Gas Station on 8609 Buckeye Road.
The headstone above shows that Virgil was buried beside one of his older brothers, Howard W. Bayne (perhaps a story for another time). He along with several members of the Bayne family are interred in Moffett Cemetery in Milton, Kentucky.
He is honored by his brothers in blue. And we honor him here, bringing into view one of the forgotten leaves from our family tree.
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.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you a woman who was very dear to my heart: my grandmother, Margaret Virginia Dunaway. She played a major role in my upbringing, in particular throughout the years before high school.
There are so many stories of our time together - and, of course, before I was even around - I wouldn't know where to start. But today, I just wanted to share a picture I came across in the "archives". This one I took just before my family and I moved to Taiwan. So that would be spring of 2012, and Grandmother would have been around 93 years old at that time.
I remember her telling me on more than one occasion that she believed that she was descended from Mary, Queen of Scots. Not sure which one - preferably, Mary II. Well, based on my research so far, that's looking less and less likely. Sorry, Grandmother. But in my eyes, you'll always be the queen of this family. Your reign was a long and memorable one, indeed!
You can see my first blog post to understand how Margaret was at least a partial inspiration for my personal pursuit of a family narrative. Click here!
To know more about Margaret's ancestral line, go to the home page and click on her picture. Updates will be coming.
Yesterday, I posted about a 2016 cemetery visit in Neches, Texas where I was able to locate the headstone and grave for my 2nd great grandfather Albert Abraham Maraman.
Well, after having a look at the calendar, it just so happens that it is his father's birthday today. This is William F. Maraman. He was born in Kentucky on January 11, 1846. More about him and his wife Missouri in a future post.
The sketched portrait above was provided by Ancestry.com user "suespeakman".
Happy birthday, William!
Vernon E. Tanksley, father of Annis Laverne Tanksley
Can anyone guess the date of this photo?