[This post is preempting my usual beginning of the month to-do list. The one for December is likely to be pretty sparse since with the short amount of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas I don't expect to accomplish much this month. I will have a short list probably by next week.]

DSC_0009Ok, I admit it.  I am one of the few people in the world who likes fruitcake. There must be others of us but I’m hard pressed to name any of my current family or friends who will admit it, except for one.  I like pretty much any fruitcake – I’m not very particular although it does need to be moist.  I don’t know where I got this apparently rare taste, although I remember my mother eating fruitcake.  She would get a round one in a tin box around Thanksgiving and parcel it out in December.  Maybe my grandparents sent it to her from Texas.  Some years there was fruitcake left to be eaten on New Year’s Eve.  One of my favorites.

Anyway, I do like it.  Years ago a friend discovered this and suggested we make our own.  I was in, although I’d never thought about making it myself until she suggested it.  She comes from a Southern family on her mother’s side, and has great recipes from the Southern ladies who had to learn to cook/bake certain things as part of their upbringing.  There are great cheese straws, for example.  And in her family fruitcake was another required specialty.  So we started Salt, Patricia - XXXX-XX-XX - making fruitcakeour own tradition of making fruitcake the weekend after Thanksgiving.  You have to make them far enough in advance to let them age, and add the cider (or rum or bourbon or whatever) to keep them moist.  We learned through doing that we could make little muffin-fruitcakes and small loaf fruitcakes and bigger loaf fruitcakes.  They were all good.  We also had both a dark fruitcake recipe and a white fruitcake recipe (I think the white one was the more traditional Southern one but I may be wrong).  The dark is my favorite; it’s the one I grew up with.

Louise’s notes say that the recipe we used was developed by her grandmother in the 1930s and is unusual in two ways.  First it doesn’t include any fruit rinds, only candied fruits.  And second, while it does include a small amount of rum for flavor, you age it by seasoning it in apple cider.  It comes out nice and moist but not overly “spirited”. We’d get together on IMGP3789the Saturday after Thanksgiving and with a very large roasting pan or soup pot start the process of mixing up the batter.  The goal was to make enough for each of us to have some for ourselves and some for gifts.  The batter is a very stiff, heavy one and you can’t use an electric mixer to stir it – unless maybe you have an industrial size mixer but neither of us did or does.  So we would take turns putting our muscle into it, until the batter was fully mixed and ready to put into the baking pans.IMGP3791

Then while the cakes were baking, and they take a long time in a slow oven, we’d do something fun.  This usually involved a trip out for lunch and to look at stores someplace like Rockport or Marblehead, MA (wonderful little towns on the ocean) since we had the time.  Now I’m talking about 30 years ago, before shopping Thanksgiving weekend became a competitive sport.

Then somehow we lost touch with each other for a number of years and the fruitcake tradition was lost.  Jobs and where we were living changed.  Happily, a few years ago we reconnected and last year the fruitcake tradition was re-instated.  Or at least she let me come help her.  We made enough to fill 4 loaf pans and the resulting cakes were beautiful.  Unfortunately our timing was bad, and I had to leave before they were finished baking, so she sent me a picture of one later so I’d know they came out as good as ever.  (And she was the one who had to keep basting them with cider until Christmas!)

The marriage of William Martin and Rosa Cleantha Blood ended badly with William in an unmarked grave, buried at Yamhill County’s expense, and Rosa and her children 25 miles away struggling to eke out a living.

I have written a lot about the Martin family and didn’t expect to write any more, but the story of the marriage of William Martin and Rosa Cleantha Blood has been on my mind. 

  My earlier stories about the Martins have returned the bounty of two Martin cousins and a treasure trove of pictures and other information from the Willamette Heritage Center. I now have my mother-in-law’s stories and genealogical work, Uncle Gordon’s genealogical notes, a memoir written by William and Rosa’s daughter, Amy, William’s probate file, burial information for William, Rosa and their daughters, and other bits and pieces.

 I have been thinking about how to put together a story that reflects on the emotions and feelings of the players without their actual testimony for some time now. The Martin story is one that might let me do that. I am hoping to read between the lines and accurately tell the story without crossing into fiction.  We’ll see how it goes.

William Martin and Rosa Blood were married on Jan. 5, 1870.  William was 41 years old, Rosa was 29.  It was William’s second marriage and Rosa’s

Rosa Blood Martin in the early years of her marriage

Rosa Blood Martin in the early years of her marriage

first. 

What prompted these two people to marry?

 In her memoir Amy Martin says that William’s first wife died in childbirth.   William was caring for his 13 year old daughter  alone. He must have wanted both the comforts of a wife and a caretaker for his daughter, but what of Rosa?

Rosa’s life was difficult at best.  Her mother died when she was twelve years old and she ran the household for a year until her father remarried. Uncle Gordon’s notes, based on his mother’s stories say Rosa was raised in a ” formal, frigid atmosphere masked as Godliness.  Stepmother made a slave of Rosa, large washing and care of family undermined her health.  Rosa started teaching at 16 years of age and kept at it for 11 years. Rosa choked pretty bad at times.  Almost 29 when married-had favorite but didn’t get him-often said she wished she could see him- knew William only a short time.”

Rosa was poor, sick, heartbroken, and growing too old to be marriageable.  Her choices were marriage to an older man she didn’t love or life as a penniless schoolteacher whose family held little affection for her.  Marriage to William was the better of two bad choices.

 The couple prospered for a time.  The Martins had a pleasant home with a live-in servant.  Regardless of what affection they may or may not have shared they had six children over a fourteen-year period. William was successfully invested in logging, a flour mill, a grocery and Great Lakes shipping.   Unfortunately, much of William’s success was based on borrowed money.  When a depression hit in 1885, coupled with the sinking of one of his boats, the family was left with very little.  William and Rosa had watched as their infant son Charles died in 1881 and then lost their four year old son ,William, in 1884.  Now they were faced with  struggling to provide for their four remaining children.

 Finally William went West to Dakota, but found little to support him there.  He continued on to Dayton, Oregon where her rented a small house.  The rest of the family joined him there.  Things were not easy for the Martins in Oregon.  William continued to try to support his family  through both farming and investments.  Rosa and the children helped as well. Economic hardship could not have helped their marriage, but they continued to work together.   I will have more to say about the family’s struggles in Oregon in part II of this narrative.

 

Two weeks ago I got an email that there was a comment to be approved on our blog.  When I read the comment I was thrilled and then, I have to admit, just a tiny bit suspicious (sorry, Linda!).  The writer said she had come across a copy of a deed showing William Denman buying land in upstate New York in 1795.  She wanted to know if this was my family by any chance.  You can see the comment and my response on the Contact Us page.  I was actually still on vacation and in Canada when I first read this and responded.

As soon as I got back home, I emailed my genealogical genie and we had several emails back and forth about what it was and how she came to have it.  She told me that she volunteers in a non-profit animal shelter that accepts donations which it then sells to help support the work at the shelter.  She had noticed the names on the document and thought she’d try to see if she could find out anything about them.  Her hope was that someone in the family would be interested in it.  She didn’t spell it out, but obviously found the blog and the Denman names I have written about before, so she left a note.

I was very eager to know more about what she had, and she offered to get a picture to email to me.  Her husband took several shots and they showed me that it was indeed a copy of the original William Denman deed.  It shows William and Ann Denman acquiring the 200 acres in New York where they built the homestead that was the place my Denman family first settled in this country.  I have written about this place before, here.

What I haven’t told about is the existence of this original deed.  My sister and I were lucky enough to see it in person when we visited the Denman family in Grahamsville New York two summers ago.  It belongs to our Denman cousins, and has hung on their office wall for a number of years.  The story we were told was that someone had discovered it in an envelope in a safe deposit box in California when its owner had died.  Apparently the executor thought it belonged back in New York and it was sent to the Denmans who still live in the Neversink area where the family first settled.  They framed it and hung it in their office.  I got one picture of our older cousin holding it, but we couldn’t get a copy of it made while we were there.  (I admit to being somewhat concerned that it needed to be re-framed with archival matting and protective glass, and hope that this has been done since then.)  Anyway, I didn’t get a real chance to read the document but I could see the signatures of William Denman and of Ann Denman who signed as a witness.

IMGP4527The good news is that Linda found me and offered me the copy, if I was willing to pay the postage and make a donation to her shelter.  I was glad to say yes.  She got it to a shipper and I found it waiting for me two days later when I returned home from a day out.  It is now hanging in my home office. The good news is also that this piece of family history survived the impact of hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.  The bad news is that it is stuck to the glass and has a lot of water damage.  However, it is still completely readable.  And the stamp on the back of the frame shows it was framed in Pasadena California.  I am hoping to hear from the company, which is still in business.

There is still the genealogical mystery of who made this copy, and when.  Also how did the person who donated it to the shelter come by it and where?  My genealogical genie is going to ask her a few specific questions which may help me figure out if her family is related to the Denmans and if she got the document in California or someplace else.

Research
* Continue to look for birth, death, marriage records for Margaret, John, Tilford, William S., John Charles Earhart. I have marriage and death for Mary E. (Hockman), but no birth found yet under either name. I am waiting for a death cert for William S. to arrive, and have started a table of dates and sources for all of these people.
* Get the pension file for Tilford Earhart, filed by his mother Margaret. Unfortunately this file is not yet available on Fold3.com, except for the index card, so I may have to send to NARA for it.
* Waiting for last batch of copies of original records found on familysearch.org that I requested, the very end of October.

Organization
* Added a To-Analyze tag to Evernote, and a folder in my genealogy documents sub-directory to hold records found but not entered into my database yet. Continue in bad habit of pulling off the internet but not immediately putting into database.
* Pick a group of census records and really learn how to enter them in Clooz – a program which I really like my early experience with but which I need to learn to be more proficient using.
* Type notes from Maine trip and file information. Figure out next steps.

Education
* Watched several of the Clooz videos and think I understand how to enter source and then document for census records. Excited to see that Clooz can now transfer sources back to one database and hope that it will soon be able to transfer to RootsMagic.

    

It is possible to explore family history and understand it reasonably well, family, on the other hand, is always a mystery.

Alice, Ruth and Elinor

Alice, Ruth and Elinor

     The problem with trying to understand your own family is that you were a child when you first encountered these mysterious people.  Your views on each of them are colored by the nuclear family you grew up in and even that nuclear family had its secrets, lots of them.

      This is why family historians are always asking themselves, “Why didn’t I know this?’ or “Why didn’t I spend more time with this person?” or one of a thousand other questions usually accompanied by slapping the forehead and saying, “Duh!”

      I did some forehead smacking recently when I discovered a 1977 article from The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia about my cousin Elinor Brown.  Elinor is my first cousin, once removed, or put in language I actually understand; she was my grandmother’s sister’s kid.

      I knew Elinor when I was growing up.  We weren’t as close to my grandmother’s family, but we saw them from time to time.  They came to our weddings and Bar Mitzvahs; we went to theirs.  There was no estrangement that I know of, there just didn’t seem to be a lot of communication, but what do I know, I was a dumb kid.

Elinor Brown (top right) with her father and sisters, Alice and Ruthe

Elinor Brown (top right) with her father and sisters,
Alice and Ruthe

Elinor was born in 1898, so she was about 50 years older than I am.  As a child I suppose she was just another old person to me, but I knew Elinor when I was an adult in my twenties and thirties.  Why then did I know so little about her?

      The article from The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia is about Elinor’s career in the advertising business.  I knew she was in business of some kind and I knew she was successful, but I never thought about what it must have been like for a woman of her generation to be in business.

      Elinor began writing for the Yiddish newspaper, Der Tag, which was owned by her father.  After high school Elinor went to secretarial school in Syracuse.  Secretarial work, after all, was what women did until they got married.  Elinor came home for the summer and took a job in the secretarial pool at an ad agency.  She never returned to school and somehow made it from the secretarial pool to space and media buying.  She was the only woman in that area.

      She made the next big jump when she heard that the Contadina Company was looking for an ad agency.  She flew to Chicago and convinced Contadina’s parent company to hire the E.L.Brown Agency.  This was the birth of the agency.  When she arranged a banquet for Contadina dealers she ran into a bit of a problem.

      This from the Jewish Exponent, “I finished making the arrangements with the hotel management, went up to my suite to change, and decided to go down for a drink.  But they turned me away at the bar–unaccompanied women were not allowed in.

      I was furious!  Here I had just finished spending God knows how much money in that hotel, and I couldn’t go to the bar.  I grabbed the assistant manager and told him my story. He finally escorted me into the bar and sat with me while I had my drink.  But–imagine!”

      It was a problem that would persist so she dealt with it.  “I hired a man whose only function in the agency was to pick up the check.  He traveled with me wherever I went, all over the country, and that’s all he did.  Pick up the check.”

       What can I say, it’s brilliant, appalling, and yet awfully funny.

      There are a lot more stories I could tell about this interesting woman and her long and successful life.  She married twice, had children and grandchildren and worked into her 80′s.

      I am delighted to know more about this early feminist.  I’m just sorry I didn’t get to hear her stories from her.

 

 

 

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