I recently became the very pleased recipient of an orphaned photograph.  I received the newest Huron County Kinologist in the mail a week or two ago, and actually sat down to read it (rather than my more usual habit of putting it in a pile to be read later).  I enjoyed reading the list included of what families the members are searching.  And I noticed a couple of lines at the bottom of one page reporting the receipt of an orphaned photograph from a woman in Kansas.  She had sent it to the Huron County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society because it included the name Mrs. M.A. Vaughn, Wakeman Ohio, and “Mother’s cousin” written on it.  She hoped to find it a home.

Excited, I immediately contacted the Chapter and said I wanted it if there were no more direct relatives asking for it.  Mary A. Vaughn was the second, late-in-life, wife of my great great grandfather Charles Minor of Wakeman, Ohio.  I’m not sure whether I was the first to ask, or the only one, but I ended up with it.

Mrs. M.A. Vaughn

Mrs. M.A. Vaughn

I am thrilled to see her for the first time.  I only have one picture of my great great grandfather and none of his first wife, my great great grandmother Adelia Mary Hall.  Since Mary A. Vaughn is not a direct relative or even a collateral I am trying mightily not to follow that path down the rabbit hole (with only moderate success).  In the hope that someone actually related to her might find this interesting, here is what I know about her.

She was born Mary A. Beardsley perhaps on 22 Sep 1838 (from her death certificate) in Twinsburg, Ohio.  I say perhaps because the marriage license she and Joshua R. Vaughn obtained in December 1853 alleged that she was at least 18 years old, which she wouldn’t have been in 1853 if she had been born in 1838,  At only 15 years old, she should have required the consent of her father to marry, which was not reported.  On the other hand, 1838 is consistent with the age she reported as late as 1906 when she and Charles Minor married  and on all the various federal censuses I have found her on.

I am finding confusing evidence about her parents.  On the first marriage record there is no mention of her parents.  On the second, to Charles Minor, she reported her parents as John Birdsley and Caroline Goodin (being her mother’s maiden name).  On Mary’s death certificate her parents were reported (by I believe a daughter of Mary’s) to have been Joseph Spencer (?maybe, this is hard to decipher) and Caroline Goodin.  I found a marriage record in Summit County, Ohio for a Caroline Goodwin and David Beardsley in 1840 (2 years after the reported date of birth for Mary.   On the 1850 census I found Caroline Goodwin and Mary A. Beardsley living in Cuyahoga County, Ohio – unfortunately this census did not record relationships or marital status.  And, finally, on the 1860 and 1870 censuses there is a Daniel and Peggy Ann Goodin living in the same place or next door to Joshua and Mary Vaughn and their young family, and in 1880 there is a Daniel Goodin in their household listed as Father-in-Law.  Oh my.

Joshua R. Vaughn was certainly older than Mary, likely by at least 3 years and more likely by 7-8 years based on the federal censuses I have found them together on.  They seem to have lived all their married lives in Wakeman, Ohio, also based on the federal censuses, and often lived near other families who are direct relatives of mine.  Joshua served in the Civil War for almost 5 months in Company E of the 166 Ohio Infantry as a private.   He applied for a pension based on being an invalid, in 1891, and a month after his death in 1901, Mary applied as his widow.  In January 1906 she married my great great grandfather Charles Minor and they lived in Wakeman together until he died in November 1913.  Soon thereafter she sold the house and moved to Cleveland to live with one of her daughters.  Mary Beardsley Vaughn Minor died in Cleveland in June 1926 and was buried with her first husband in the Wakeman Cemetery.

So as you can see, I haven’t managed to stay out of the rabbit hole but now I am done (she told herself sternly).  And the photo which was orphaned is welcome to find a home with me, however if there is anyone who is directly related who would like it I am willing to pass it along.

I have decided to name it the Shelton Images Collection. I am going to make it my first fully described archived collection. It is a small self-contained set, so I should be able to accomplish this. I know how important it is to do this, partly from wishing the person I obtained any materials from had done it for me. Alas, when pieces from family members get passed down, in dribs and drabs, that doesn’t often happen. Not in my family anyway. I aspire to do better.

This collection of images is different from most of my others. I obtained them from eBay, all at one time, with a very short description attached. Here’s how it happened. When I started listening to Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcast, one of her suggestions was to set up searches on eBay for places your ancestors had lived. She talked about finding neat things that related to ancestors’ lives and even discovering new information this way. Cool idea, thought I. And at some later point (much later, since I am often slow to follow through on this kind of intention) I tried it out. That was how I found the high school year book for my mother. And learning how to successfully bid in the auctions on eBay is another story!

I also set up a search for Wakeman Ohio, thinking I would love to find a high school year book or other material for my grandfather and his family. Given my recent success with my mother’s year book, I went back to eBay, and renewed a number of the searches I had set up. These searches last a finite amount of time and then they stop sending you email when they’ve found anything and you have to go back and renew them. Soon after I did that, and spent a morning rummaging around the eBay site looking at things, I got a message from my Wakeman search with the family name Shelton in it. The description sent to me was “10 vintage cabinet photos-Wakeman Ohio-Haines Studio-Shelton 1898”. The cabinet photos caught my eye immediately and when I realized that the name and date meant they were likely part of my mother’s family I went to take a look at the offering.

I was thrilled to see the complete description. “—–LOT OF 10 OLD-VINTAGE FAMILY CABINET PHOTO’S…THE 2 TOP PICTURES OF THE SAME BABY,BOTH ARE MARKED–“ELBERT MINOR SHELTON,5 MONTHS OLD..25 LBS.”; THE OLDER MAN WITH A LONG GRAY BEARD IS MARKED “HENRY S. SHELTON 1898? ON THE BACK…..ALL OF THESE ARE MARKED “HAINES,WAKEMAN OHIO” STUDIO.” The seller described buying the pictures at an estate sale, where she was told they would only sell the lot together since they were from the same family. What she was offering was that same lot of 10.

I knew as soon as I saw the baby’s name that this was our family – at least the baby picture. I opened my computer database to look at names and refresh my memory on this line. Sure enough, Elbert was the son of Nellie Minor and Myron Shelton. Myron was the son of Henry S. Shelton. So I knew there was at least a picture of the grandson Elbert and grandfather Henry. Nellie Minor Shelton was the sister of my great grandmother, Mamie

Elbert Minor Shelton, 5 mos., 25 lbs

Minor Denman. This is the baby Elbert – the back of the photo gives his full name and that he was 5 months old and weighed 25 pounds. You have to love it! And here is his grandfather, Henry S. Shelton, who would have been about 66 years old if the date (1898) on the back is correct.

Henry S. Shelton, c 1898

I have my work cut out for me to identify the other people in the photos. They are all from the same photography studio so I am hoping that the variation of the logos will help date them. I am also hoping I can lure one of my cousins into helping, or at least looking at them. There are individual pictures of a man and woman who *could* be baby Elbert’s proud parents. And there is an irresistable one of a young child who *might* be Elbert at around 2-3 years of age. I think this picture is a little boy – what do you think? Luckily, to describe the collection I don’t think I have to have all the images identified.

Unknown Shelton child, c 1898

Since I’ve posting the stories from Grandpa Lyle about early Wakeman days I’ve gotten more curious about his father, F.A. who was the focus of many of these stories. So, I’m going to combine a couple of ideas here to write about my great grandfather, F.A. Denman and his life.

When we first talking about doing a blog and what we would write about, Judy suggested she might write about all of the changes her mother had seen in her long life. I thought that was a good idea, and might be interesting in my family as well. Using a timeline to write about an ancestor has also been suggested as a theme, by the COG and others. So here is a capsule of F.A.’s life and some of the changes he would have experienced in his long lifetime.

F.A. August 1913

First a little background to set the stage: F.A. Denman was born December 12, 1866 in Florence Township, Erie, Ohio to John Denman and Mary Groatt Denman. He died January 22, 1960 in Wakeman, Huron, Ohio in the house that Grandpa Lyle described. He was 93 years old. F.A.’s childhood home was a house across the road from the Denman parents’ house (where he was born), surrounded by farmland belonging to the family. F.A.’s name was just F.A., not standing for anything else. It may have been that he was named after a favorite childhood playmate of his mother’s – that was always my mother’s story to explain the name. She said that his mother played with twins named M.A. and F.A. and so F.A. was named after his mother’s friend.

F.A.’s Denman grandparents and his Groatt grandmother all outlived his mother, Mary Groatt Denman, who died at age 35 when F.A. was not-yet 5 years old. F.A. had two older sisters and an older brother (4 to 9 years older than he was). His father John remarried two years after the death of his first wife, presumably needing help with the 4 children. The story is that John knew of a young woman who had lived in Wakeman but had moved to Michigan to teach. He took the 4 children up to Michigan to meet her and then married her.

Andrew Johnson was President when F.A. was born. The Civil War had ended the year before. The house he was born into did not have running water, electricity, or a telephone. It probably had gas lights, and an icebox. This is the Denman family home, built by F.A.’s grandfather, John Denman, about 1835.

Denman family house

There was a pump in the yard by the kitchen door, and an outhouse “out back”. The electric light bulb was developed when F.A. was about 13. He would have been about 12 years old when the first commercial telephone exchange in the U.S. was created. Neither of these were in common use in rural areas like Wakeman until after Grandpa Lyle was born.

My mother remembered that the house F.A. bought in Wakeman did have electricity when she was a young girl (the 1920’s) although most of the farmers in the area did not. There was no city water or indoor plumbing (although F.A. did install a toilet for his wife around 1924) even in those years. There was a telephone by this time for F.A.’s various business dealings.

F.A. lived through the administrations of 18 Presidents (Calvin Coolidge twice; I was corrected by my youngest brother: the President who served twice but not contiguously was Grover Cleveland), born when Andrew Johnson was President and dying the year that John Kennedy was elected. A newspaper story said that hie vividly recalled the day James Garfield was elected, and how some of the overly-enthusiastic Garfield supporters got drunk and spent the celebration holding up a wall of the train depot across the street from the saloon.

F.A.’s father-in-law (Charles Minor) and 4 Denman uncles were Civil War veterans. His son served in World War I; his grandson and grand-son-in-law were in World War II. He lived through the Spanish-American War, both World Wars and the Korean War, never being the right age to serve in the military.

Many changes in how people moved around also happened during F.A.’s lifetime. From courting his to-be wife using horse and buggy, he saw the automobile and the airplane invented and become common transportation. F.A. was a relatively early adopter of the automobile as Grandpa Lyle proudly noted in several places in his stories about life in Wakeman. About 1914 F.A. sold the family horse and used the money to help pay for his first automobile. In 1905, F.A. took his wife and 2 children on a train trip west to visit with his 3 siblings. They went from Wakeman through Chicago to Kansas and Nebraska and as far west as Colorado on that trip. In about 1937 F.A. took another trip to vist his brother and sisters, traveling to California and back by train. This trip included an air flight over Hoover Dam and the reservoir it created. Sputnik was launched when he was 91, introducing the Space Age.

F.A. didn’t really retire from his various entrepreneurial activities until he was around to 80. He had several hobbies or long-term interests, including photography, local history, and family history (one place I inherited it from). He was the informal town historian for Wakeman; as early as 1917 he was part of the Wakeman Centennial group, helping promote a 2-day celebration in August 1917 of the town’s centennial. Although he never went further than the fourth grade in school, having to leave to help on the family farm, he was a writer, keeping various journalis for much of his life. He was always interested in how things worked.

His wife, Mamie, was 61 when she died in 1930. Their younger daughter had married the November before and I would guess that the young couple moved in with her parents at the time of their marriage or soon afterward. F.A. lived with his daughter and her family for the rest of his life, dying in the house in Wakeman that he had bought and improved so many years before.

This is the last of the early Wakeman stories told by Grandpa Lyle, for now.  Clearly one of the common threads in all of these stories has been F.A.’s entrepreneurial style.  He found a variety of ways, typical to a rural area to support his family over the years. This one is about the several things he did toward the end of his working life. This post is also the most heavily edited from Grandpa Lyle’s words. I have tried to keep his use of words and cadence while tightening up some of his digressions and pauses.

“One of the things that Father became interested in, or became involved in, was a vineyard. He had a certain amount of money left when he sold the mill and he purchased a small acreage, perhaps a matter of ten acres of ground from the Paul Hall family.  (I have been trying to figure out who Paul Hall was and where he fit in our Hall family, without success so far.) The Hall family was related to the Denmans through the Minors. Will Hall was a brother of my grandmother Minor and the rest of the family all called him Uncle Will, Uncle Will Hall. And to me he would be a great uncle. So Father purchased this ground — he loved to raise things and see things grow and he had his orchard on it, he still had his orchard. And he planted several acres of vineyard. Why, I don’t know. But something prompted him to start a vineyard of perhaps, let’s say there may have been six or eight acres. Or may have only been four. I cannot say. But anyway he bought that. That was following the sale of the mill and the fact that the mill burned after he had sold it is of no consequence to our family there.  (This is a story for another time.) So Father bought this area of ground and set out a grape vineyard which took several years before it came into production.”

“Part of this property was down on the flats along the Vermilion River and Father had sort of a camp ground. People would drive in there and stay overnight that wanted to. And there was clumps of bushes and he’d have a picnic table there. He’d have probably six or eight picnic tables there and he just called it Denman’s Picnic Ground. And up the hill there was an acreage, perhaps four, maybe three, maybe five acres that he planted into vineyard and raised grapes. And they came into harvest in just a few years and he would harvest the grapes and would take them to Dover, near Cleveland, to have them pressed into wine. And there wasn’t too much to tell about that except the the bit of humor from the fact that at one time some twenty years earlier he had been a very rabid prohibitionist. Wakeman was a dry community under local option and somewhere or other that had been discontinued in later years. And he had these grapes pressed into wine and with the help of his son-in-law, Fred Graves, they would take them to the wine press and he would have a few barrels of grape wine which he was able to sell retail from his residence in Wakeman. He had obtained the proper permit from the state that allowed him to do that. And occasionally people would come there and buy a gallon of wine which he would sell from his basement.”

“But in the meantime he was buying eggs from different people and would take them to Cleveland. He had certain customers there, among others Hotel Cleveland which was the newest and biggest hotel there. Father would take those eggs and they would be candled, hand candled, and h would guarantee the absolute freshness of every egg that he sold. And they paid him a premium to get Father’s special white candled eggs which they used for their three-minute boiled eggs. They bought cheaper eggs for the general use, for baking and for serving, frying and scrambling and what have you. But for any customer that ordered a three-minute boiled egg, you would get one of these eggs that Father had and he would take a certain number of cases to Cleveland once a week and he had developed a small business that way. And then he had other eggs and things for sale. And there was a market, a farmers’ market, in Cleveland that he would make his deliveries. There was a grocery store there, the Brayman brothers owned a store, and the Braymans had lived in Wakeman at one time and Father supplied them with eggs every week.”

(My mother remembered that when he raised strawberries, he used to take the strawberries into Cleveland.) “Well, we didn’t, he didn’t raise many strawberries. It was, he, whenever he had produce of any kind that he raised, he would take into Cleveland. And one year, among other things, he had a quantity of white Easter lilies and he raised, oh, how many hundred I don’t know. But those were bundled up and were taken in to a florist in Cleveland. And he did quite a lot of work like that. He was gradually getting older and that was one of the reasons that he sold the mill. The mill had become, he had been fifteen years younger and when he was fifteen years older the mill property had become a burden, trying to operate it along with his orchard business and all of these — he seemed to like to get into everything at the same time and didn’t concentrate.”

“Father seemed to like to dabble in many things. One of the other things following the sale of the mill — at one time he decided that hatching eggs, baby chicks, would be a good idea and he had the space in the barn at Wakeman. And he obtained from someplace, or bought, an incubator that would hatch or would carry three thousand eggs at a time. And for more than one season — I can’t remember how long he did it. I know he did it for at least two different years, in the spring of the year. People who would want baby chicks — he would contract to furnish them at so much apiece. If they brought their own eggs and had wanted a certain breed of chickens, they would bring the eggs for those. Or if they would tell him what they wanted, he would get them.

“Father raised chickens. We had quite — always did have a lot of chickens around.

F.A.'s chickens 1922

F.A.'s chickens 1922

This picture was taken in 1922 of F.A.’s chickens.  I have it on good authority that these are a large flock of young birds and include a few Plymouth Barred Rocks, Leghorns, and Rhode Island Reds. If we didn’t have them, he would get the eggs from someplace that did have, whether they might be Plymouth Rock or White Leghorns, or White Rocks. There were a number of different — I remember there was a Silver Laced Wyandott that was a popular bird. It was a heavy bird. It was a good laying bird and also was a good bird for a family — roasting. It was not a fryer type like the Leghorns they used for the fryer types. He operated that for several years until it was destroyed later by a fire that destroyed the barn.”

My Denman family line first migrated from Ditchling, Sussex, England to New York state up the Hudson River around Kingston and Rondout Creek in about 1795. They settled in the Neversink area in Sullivan County. It was from there that some of the family moved on westward to northern Ohio.  A booklet put together by the Town Clerk of Neversink, celebrating the Bi-Centennial of the Town of Neversink (Ackerley, Loretta.  1998.  Township of Neversink 1798-1998.) described the early days of the William and Ann Denman family as follows.  They lived in a rough log lean-to on a remote hill, the building described in a letter as having no plaster but only leaves stuffed in the cracks.  The hill is now known as Denman Mountain.  Through much hard work, the Denmans survived and prospered.  A proper house was built and the Denmans raised 10 children to adulthood.  Their daughter Elizabeth who was born in England not long before the family left for the new country, died soon after they arrived.  My ancestor, John, was ther oldest living son, born in England in 1791.  Before 1819 John was in northern Ohio having purchase land and begun clearing and farming.  Here is Grandpa Lyle’s telling:

“In the trips from New York to Ohio the first year two members of the Denman family (John and his brother William) carried what they could carry on their shoulders and then the next trip or the trip after that they had an ox team. But on one trip, one of the men brought back a quantity of apple seeds. The story has varied from a quart to a peck. You can use your own judgment on how many they had. Those apple seeds were planted and that was the start of an apple industry in northern Ohio.  This is the Denman family’s own Johnny Appleseed. At one time, the apples produced in northern Ohio in those in the state, northern York state as they called it then, the northern part of New York, was the apple producing area for the United States. A few years later it began to spread and it, by the present time, as you are aware, apples are produced in central Ohio, in Virginia and many other states, and then particularly in the northwest, Oregon, Washington. The apple industry is entirely changed. But at the time I am telling you about the early orchards were around northern Ohio.”

FA Denman childhood home

FA Denman childhood home

“Father had two orchards. One of about ten or eleven acres, right near the homestead where he was born and where I was born.  And the other orchard was a short distance south of that of about five acres. And they were mostly Baldwin apples, Russet apples, a certain number of what they called Rhode Island Greenings, and a certain number of Ben Davis which are, which were in my opinion practically worthless there — they had no flavor whatever. But they had a number of other flavors. They had Rambos and they had Gravensteins which were, is spelled G-r-a-v-e-n-s-t-e-i-n but the family always called them Garvusteens. And there were other various.”

Gravenstein apple

Gravenstein apple

“That orchard has all been destroyed as of the present time. But it was very active and father would spray it and harvest it. And some years he would have a light crop and they, I think the big, the heaviest crop he ever had was along in the early 19–, let’s say somewhere in 1910 to 1915, along in there. He had a matter of around 4,000 bushels of apples. The price, of course, was not high. But it was a nice, nice crop of apples.”

“Now another, the thing, one of the things that will be of interest to you folks.  (Grandpa Lyle knew that all of his grandchildren would be listening to these interviews, so he liked to put in tidbits he thought we would like.) In going to the market you will find on the shelves of most markets the J.M. Smucker jellies, jams and various types of preserves by the J.M. Smucker corporation of Orrville.  Mr. J.M. Smucker, the founder of that, was a friend of my father’s and each year he would come to Wakeman on the train. He’d go into Cleveland from Orrville and then come to Wakeman on the train. Father would meet the train in the morning and would drive Mr. Smucker around from orchard to orchard in northern Ohio. At that time they, their chief product was Smucker’s apple butter. And that was known all over the country and that was the start of the Smucker organization that we have today that produces everything in the way of fruit preserves and jellies. And Father would drive Mr. Smucker around from orchard to orchard and he would arrange to buy the product from the various orchards. Sometimes one day would take the trip and occasionally he would have to stay overnight at the Denman home. But I thought it might be a matter of interest to you to know that my father was a business acquaintance of J.M. Smucker and J.M. Smucker had lived at our home and stayed overnight there on certain occasions.”  The website for the Smucker Company has a nice history section that talks about the beginnings of the Company, shows a timeline, and gives a very brief history of the Smucker name.

“The orchards in northern Ohio are now practically depleted. It’s industrialized and built up with people who work in the different cities there. Central Ohio still has some nice orchards I am told, and down to the central part of Ohio I am told there are many nice orchards yet. But orchards are available, apples are available now from so many different places that the crop, that the center of the — there is no particular center that I know of.  New York state still produces apples and central Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and different states. Particularly, though, in Washington and Oregon, the northwest has immense orchards in that area. I believe that would cover the history of the orcharding and the early settlement of the Denman family in northern Ohio.”