November 2010 Everything’s Relative

November 2010 Everything’s Relative

Tales from the lighter side of family history.

All in the Family: August Winners
Family Feats
Even the most ho-hum of pedigrees will include an accomplished relative, judging by the responses to our call for ancestral claims to fame. We’re not talking about luck—it was skill and hard work that created these legends in their own families. Readers who shared these stories will receive 101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions for Every Genealogist (Family Tree Books), available from Family Tree Shop.
My great-grandparents Michael Pfeiffer and Barbara Laquet were early settlers in Big Sur, Calif. The family name is used on many landmarks, most notably Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, named for their son John Martin Pfeiffer, who owned the property. Years later, a daughter was honored with Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Sylvia Trotter Anderson
Arroyo Grande, Calif. 

James McWhirter, my great-grandfather, was born in Largs, Scotland, in 1853. In 1868, he immigrated to Chicago and became a marble worker. The Coca-Cola Co. commissioned him in 1900 to design a storefront in Marietta, Ga. Asa Griggs Candler, who bought the company, then asked him to oversee the marble work on the Candler Building, still a major landmark in Atlanta.
Barbara Moon

American Fork, Utah

My great-grandmother Helen Maude Knowles Culbertson, born July 7, 1878, worked in the press room of her parents’ newspaper in South Dakota. When her father was elected to Congress in 1897, she went with him to be his social secretary and a Washington Daily linotype operator. Back in South Dakota in 1917, she worked for the Deadwood Daily Telegram and was known as the fastest woman linotype operator in the state.
Lynda Parker

Oklahoma City

My great-grandfather Henry Nagel and his brother, John, were German millers who settled in Scott County, Iowa, in 1870. They set up a mill in Bushnell, Ill., and on July 2, 1901, obtained patent No. 677,789 for a “Rolled-Oats Process.” This process produced oatmeal superior in flavor, nutritional value and shelf life. They had more than 400 dealers and later sold their patent to Quaker Oats.
Bill Rohr 

Marysville, Wash.

My paternal grandmother, Alice (Cowden) Fry, was born in Hope­dale, Ohio, in 1903. In 1909, she went to school with a future movie star: Clark Gable. My grandmother told me that her seamstress mother sewed shirts for the young Gable. To think—my great-grandmother made shirts for someone who would cause controversy when he took his off and won an Oscar for it.
Jackie Fry


My wife’s cousin Stan Lopata played baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1948 to 1958, and the Milwaukee Braves from 1959 to 1960. I wrote him for family information, and he even autographed a baseball card I sent. Ken Burns’ film Baseball shows Stan striking out in a pinch-hit role—the final out of the 1950 World Series vs. the Yankees.

Charles Stein
Lincoln Park, Mich.
E-mail brief humorous or heartwarming anecdotes about your genealogy experiences to or post them to our Talk to Us Forum.

From the November 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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