Always on the move

Finished my first 1 hour + oral history session with my dad. I learned so much! He has really taken to this. I learned some things I didn’t know, like that he lived in about 12-14 different households before he turned 16. They lived in and around the communities of Wayside, Claude, and Happy, TX (yes Happy) from 1929 until the early to mid 1940s. That is in the Texas in the Panhandle, the square part at the top of Texas. The area mostly looks a lot like typical plains state areas mostly flat, except for one remarkable feature, the Palo Dura Canyon. He lived in two different places where the property bordered the canyon, and attended school in at least three different community schools. They mostly lived in Wayside, were the population for the 1940 census was 40, that means that their family made up 10% of the population.

During pre-WWII rural American it was ok to move into any unoccupied house, squatters rights prevailed. His family sometimes lived with extended family and often lived on farms or ranches where my grandfather tended to the business of running the farm or ranch.

My parents have moved often throughout their marriage, I’ll have to take a tally and get back with you later. It wasn’t unusual for them to move every year or two in the early years of their marriage. They have lived in six different locations since 1965, the longest was through my high school years in one place about 18 years. Of course through the interview I learned much more, most of the stories I have heard many, many times. I find it interesting that through this process I am learning things about him that I never knew.

Did they get married?


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Did they get married?

Here is a little stumbling block I’ve run into recently. If your new to genealogy I hope this helps, if your a veteran genealogist you’ve likely been down this path, or one like it. I’m having difficulty tracking down a marriage license from 1937. They met in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and moved to a mid-sized community more than 300 miles away; we’ll call the city Middle, TX. Their first born was born in November of 1937, but there is always more to the story. The names and places have been changed, this is part of an active client file and I prefer to keep the family’s identity private.

The father of this family, a.k.a. Samuel C. Wellington, was born in the 1890s in Houston and moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in about 1913 or 1914. It looks as though he lived in a boarding house and worked as a clerk for a manufacturing business. By 1920 he was working as a clerk for a petroleum company in the emerging oil business. He likely met his first wife, Myrtle, at work since she worked at the same company and had been there for at least two years longer. They married, bought a house in an upscale neighborhood and both changed jobs. He stayed in the oil business, and she moved into the finance industry.

Samuel served in WWI, and while he was gone Myrtle kept working. When Sam returned he proceeded on his path in the oil industry. He changed jobs, and with each job change he stepped up a rung on his career latter. Myrtle was also ambitious and moved from stenographer, to secretary, to secretary to the President, into more traditional male jobs.

In 1937, they are still listed as Mr. and Mrs. in the Dallas house they bought. According to the county their divorce was finalized in July of 1937. Later directory listings show Myrtle as Mrs. Myrtle Wellington, or Mrs. Samuel Wellington, and he appears with his new wife, Sarah, in their new home, new job, in that town’s biannual directory.

According to the children, Samuel and Sarah celebrated their anniversary as February 1937. This of course is possible and is likely when Sarah become pregnant, but not probable. If they married in February he was committing polygamy. The counties in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth area do not have a recorded of Samuels marriage to Sarah. The county they moved to returned certification that they did not get married there.

Here are a few interesting facts about the family. Samuel’s first wife Myrtle never remarried and never had any children. She continued pursuing her career and became the first women to reach a top level in her male dominated field. Samuel’s son married his young wife when she was several months pregnant wife in a nearby county courthouse ceremony, they are quite ashamed of this fact even 40+ years later. Samuel’s granddaughter married the father of her children when the first son was two years old and before the second and third children were born.

I now start the time consuming task of tracking down this marriage license in no less than 20 counties along the route to their new home, they are not listed on any state list of marriages. Marriages records for the 1930s are maintained at the county level, not the state level. First, I will make sure I’ve exhausted the D/FW area, and then look at the counties around Samuel and Sarah’s destination, then finally to the counties along the most likely route between the two cities. If nothing is revealed it is possible that they took a trip somewhere to get married and kept it a secret, or they may not have gotten married but lived in a common law marriage.

Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted.

A gift for my 82 year old father


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An unusual gift for my 82 year old father…

What do you get an 82 year old man? His health is good, but his energy level is just not what it used to be. A severe kidney infection earlier this year really took a toll on him. So what do you get an 82 year old dad for Christmas? I considered a tablet like an i Pad, but I just couldn’t afford that.

As my two teen boys and I walked around an electronics store a thought occurred to me, one project I really need to get started with him and my mom is recording them telling their life stories. There are companies out there that will do this, but we really can’t afford that. I can get around to editing it…eventually.

So I bought him a Kodak Playsport Video camera. It is small, but has a descent sized led screen, looks to be easy to use, but mostly it’s shock proof (he dropped and broke the first digital camera I gave him). Hopefully he doesn’t need the fact that it’s waterproof, but you just never know.

He will receive the camera fully charged, memory card installed, and I will play with it myself for a while so I can teach him how to use it. He is also going to get a list of open ended questions. I, or one of the boys will be there for his first few sessions to make sure the camera is working correctly and he knows how to use it. After that my hope is that he is a quick study and can continue on with hours of video about his life and experiences. He’s a great story teller, I hope the camera captures that.

This may be a gift I regret, one of two things will happen…he’ll not touch it at all, or he’ll video tape way too much. Either way it’s worth a try. I’ll let you know how it goes.

When have so many written about so little? Well, here I go anyway


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The title for this piece is a summary of a quote I saw on a calendar from, a group that takes the opportunity to poke fun at the motivation industry with their own brand of self awareness. The actual quote was too long for a title but is, “Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.” That’s pretty much what my opinion of blogging has been. I still think it is probably true.

So why I am blogging if I don’t think anyone will read it? If they do will they actually care? I’m blogging because I work from home … by myself … all … day… long. Working from home can be great, don’t get me wrong, but it has its down sides. One of those down sides is loneliness. I could call any number of colleagues any time I want, but I have this uncanny ability to contact folks at exactly the wrong time, so I don’t call unless I really need to. So instead, I’m probably speaking to the empty auditorium of the internet . . . haalllllloooooo, is anybody out there??  feel free to shout out if your there.

So this whole blog thing is also a way of communicating about something I’m passionate about, Historic Preservation. In searching around the internet I didn’t find too many actively working historians writing about historic preservation, the National Register of Historic Places, or local historic designations for buildings and sites. There are some folks with nonprofits, museums, and some contractors. Not many nomination preparers like me. Sure, I’m going to use this as a platform to try and drum up business; I’d be lying to you if that wasn’t the case. After all I am trying to make a living doing this, and I do have a kid going off to college next fall when positive cash flow will be a good thing. So don’t be offended if I occasionally ask, “know anyone that has an older building that should be recognized or designated?” If I didn’t ask, I’d never get any business.

In this blog I hope to educate and inspire you to look at the older buildings around you differently. I want you to understand what historically significance means, and consider how older buildings can bring new life into a previously depressed neighborhood. I’ll explore architectural types, history, finding a nomination preparer, and the joys of tax credits for recognized historic buildings. I’ll probably also rant about some things on topic, and some that are not.

I hope along the way I share something you’re interested in, or you might find fascinating, maybe even of some use. If not check it out occasionally anyway, I might surprise you.

One other thing, Please don’t let my public school education bother you, there will be grammatical errors and misspelled and misused words along the way, I’ll try, but there will be some.