January 2012 Everything’s Relative

January 2012 Everything’s Relative

Readers share their tales of the lighter side of family history.

November Winners: You Name It!

We’re not naming names or anything … well, actually we are. These three readers will be able to record their impressively named ancestors in the book Family Tree Legacies: Preserving Memories Throughout Time.


My great-grandmother, born in 1879, was blessed with a sweet, simple name: Flossie Natillie French. But, in time, as husbands were added, her name metamorphosed. In 1898, Flossie married John (my great-grandfather), the brother of a friend. She became Flossie Natillie French Younghusband. Widowed young, Flossie remarried in 1909. Husband No. 2 brought another three-syllable surname—Osterstock. My great-grandmother was now called Flossie Natillie French Younghusband Osterstock. No wonder we called her Nana.
-Denise A. Breault, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
The More Names, the Merrier

My great-great-grandfather James Elijah Eaton Folsom Winney, born in 1835, had our genealogy in his name. Elijah was his mother’s brother; Eaton was her mother’s maiden name and Folsom was her own surname. The kicker is that this child with the lengthy moniker was born prematurely. Grandma Winney went out to the woodpile and “ploop, out came Jimmy!” She swaddled the infant in her apron and carried him back atop the wood she’d gone to fetch.
-Coletta Crews, Jackson Mich.
Rhyme and Reason
Board Forde was Baard Torde when he arrived in New York City from Sweden in 1900, single and a baker at age 56. By 1910, he still lived alone in Spokane County, Wash.; by 1920 he was a patient and “laborer in the kitchen” at Eastern State Hospital. He died Feb. 21, 1926, and rests in Greenwood Cemetery in Spokane. I wonder who put up the tombstone? His unusual—no doubt Americanized—name caught my eye.
-Donna Potter Phillips, Spokane, Wash.


Your Story

Don’t Bet on It

On my first solo trip to Ireland, I’d spent several days at the library in Sligo doing a marathon all-day family research session for the ClanHannon.com. One day, I squeezed in a break to grab lunch and write up some postcards to send back home.

Having been to Ireland several times, I’d come to recognize the bright green storefronts of many towns’ local post offices. So while in Sligo that time, I marched into the post office to purchase enough postage to send off my postcards to America.

There was a lot of loud chattering among the men inside and smoke everywhere, but that wasn’t unusual anywhere in Ireland before the smoking ban, and everyone seemed transfixed on some sort of screen. I placed my postcards under the window glass and announced my postage needs. The woman said abruptly, “This isn’t the post office!,” shoved them back at me and turned away.

I made a hasty exit, bewildered and humiliated. Something did seem a little different about the place. I looked around outside at the green storefront.

Blush. Sigh. I had tried to buy postage at the local horse betting office. I imagine that later, the boys at Furey’s Pub around the corner had a good laugh about the so-called Yank, wanting to place a bet on her postcards getting to America.

-Elaine Hannon, State College, Pa.

Same Old, Same Old

When searching in the Westview Cemetery in Kirkville, Wappelo County, Iowa, for the gravesite of my third-great-grandfather George Washington House, I discovered a broken tombstone inscribed with the name Elizabeth and “119 yrs 10 mo 13 days.” The rest of the name had been on the broken-off and nowhere-to-be-seen part of the stone. It was next to my third-great-grandmother’s grave, so I was sure this had to be a relative.

In the local Ottumwa Courier, House’s obituary was titled, “Dead—aged 120 yrs.” And this information:
If Mr. House’s statements are correct, at the time of his death he was 120 years, 10 months and 18 days old. He retained his mental faculties until a period of three weeks before his death, at which time he had a stroke of paralysis and after that he rapidly declined until the day of his death.

At one time that broken stone read “George House, husband of Elizabeth.” George House was born March 25, 1782, in Pennsylvania, and later lived in Cedar Township, Mahaska County, Iowa. He died Jan. 10, 1879, at the age of 96 in Kirkville. The age of 120 years stated in the obituary, I discovered, was figured from his mother’s birth date.

-Patricia McKee Bauer

Ancestral Flyover

“She’s in heaven with the angels,” I responded to my grandson’s question about the passing of my mother.

Weeks later, when the three-year-old returned from an air show at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, I asked what he thought of the performance. The precocious toddler shouted: “I liked the jets. They were so loud!” Then he quietly added, “But I didn’t see Mema.”

“Why did you think she would be there?” I asked.

He shrugged and replied, “Mommy promised me the Blue Angels. All I saw was a bunch of airplanes!”

-Lucy Giardino Cortese, Jacksonville, Fla.

January Challenge: What’s Going on Here?

Time to exercise your funny bone! Come up with a clever caption for this photo, and if we include it in a future Family Tree Magazine, you’ll win our Family Tree Magazine 2011 annual CD.
  • To Enter: E-mail your caption (less than 50 words) with the Everything’s Relative/January 2012 as the subject to FTMedit@fwmedia.com.
  • Deadline: Dec. 31, 2011
  • Remember: You must include your mailing address to win. We can’t acknowledge entries. By submitting, you give Family Tree Magazine permission to feature your contribution in all print and electronic media.

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