Christmas Memories

As I was putting away my Christmas tree this weekend I decided to take a few minutes to photograph a few of my special ornaments.   Why are these ornaments important? They are old, inexpensive, and maybe even a little broken.

               My grandma, Jewell Wynn Dover had one of the early artificial trees.   She always disliked the real cedar trees that my grandpa, Ellsworth Dover would drag in each year because of the mess.   After he passed away, she took the opportunity to purchase an artificial tree.   Thinking back on it and comparing it to what we have today, it seemed more like a Charlie Brown tree.    It was wooden pole in the center and had slots for each individual limb to be placed.    Of course, you then had to add lights and decorations.

               Grandma’s decorations were a hodge podge of items.   Man, if only I could go back and ask her where they all came from.   This I do know, anything we wanted to put on that tree was ok.   I definitely recall that there were some ornaments that were off the back of the cereal box, you would cut them out and then fold them according to the directions.   There was also the construction paper bell that I made in 3rd grade that was always on the tree, and various breakable balls, bells, etc.  

               When my grandma passed away there was an auction of household goods and when the box of Christmas ornaments came up, I stepped right up and purchased the prized family heirlooms.  LOL there may have only been one bidder.   I picked through the box and kept the ornaments that were special to me.   The 1970s era silk covered styrofoam balls were a mess and not salvageable, but my construction paper bell was in perfect condition.  

               So this year, I’m sharing with you the picture I could find from Christmas past showing my grandma’s tree and the priceless heirlooms that still make it to my tree every year.  The bird no longer hangs on the tree, it’s too fragile and the tail has broken free. Oh if you are curious about the bobby pins, those are original to grandma’s tree. They worked really well holding the ornaments on the tree then, and they still do.

               Just a thought, maybe next year ask those grandkids to make you a special item to hang on your tree.   It’s a memory they will not forget! I still have the construction paper bell.

A Short, But Important Life…

I have spent a lot of time researching the family of the little orphan girl, as my grandma, Jewell Elberta Wynn Baker Dover often referred to herself.  This is the second blog about her direct ancestors. Here’s a chart to keep us on track.

We have been through the early life of Jewell’s father, Claude Elbert Wynn.   What do we know about her mom, Pearl Olive Swango?

Pearl ‘Pearly’ Olive Swango was born 2 February 1896[1] in Wolfe County, Kentucky.  We only have one picture of Pearly taken about 1905.  This photo is cropped from a family photo. 

By 1910 her family is living in Craig County, Oklahoma and she is attending school, along with her brothers.  

Grandma told me on several occasions, “my parents ran off and got married in Jay, Oklahoma and Grandpa Swango hunted her father with a shotgun, so they went to Missouri”.   What lends credibility to that story is the fact that she was born in Missouri, however her older brother was born in Oklahoma.  It’s possible he was being hunted by her father for other reasons. 

I was unable to locate a marriage license in 1913 for Pearl and Claude because Delaware County, Oklahoma has lost that particular record book.   I was lucky enough to find a notice of their marriage in the paper.   “MARRIED – Tuesday, August 12 at Jay, Okla., Olive Swango and Claud Winn, both of Sunflower district, near Welch.  The marriage was in the form of an elopement and was a great surprise to their many friends.”[2]

To this marriage three children were born, Loyd Lee “Jack” Wynn on 20 June 1914 in Oklahoma and the twins, James Elbert Wynn and Jewell Elberta Wynn on 13 February 1916 in St. James, Phelps County, Missouri.[3]  Grandma said they were born prematurely at 7 months and they each only weighed about 2 ½ lbs.   They were small enough to fit in a shoebox.   Baby James was born first, however he only survived 1 month and 6 days.  He died on 19 March 1916 and is buried in the St. James City Cemetery, Phelps County, Missouri.[4]  I am sure the heartache was overwhelming for the young family and they soon moved back to Vinita, Oklahoma.  

Two short years later, Pearl died at a young age from the flu epidemic on 6 December 1918 and is buried next to her parents.  Grandma told me that Pearl received notice that her mother was ill but to stay away.  She immediately traveled to her mother’s home with her young son Jack in tow.   Both of them became ill, however Jack survived. 

Mrs. Wynn Dead

               Pearl Olive Wynn, wife of Claud Wynn, died at the home of her father, J.L. Swango, in Sunflower district, Dec. 6, 1918.  Mrs. Wynn took sick with influenza the day her mother was buried and died just ten day later.  She had come here from Vinita during her mother’s sickness.

               Pearl Olive Wynn was born, Feb. 20, 1896.  She was married to Claud Wynn, in August 1913.  To this happy union three children were born two of whom survive.  She as a member of the Baptist church, of Ketchum, Okla.  Funeral services were held Saturday, conducted by Rev. Reynolds, of Ketchum, and burial was made by the side of her deceased mother in Williams cemetery.[5]

Pearl was also remembered in the Miami District Daily News on 10 December 1918, the Bluejacket Gazette on 12 December 1918, and the Vinita Journal on 19 December, 1918.

She never got a chance to see her daughter start school or her son enter the Navy, but she left a lasting impression. Jewell never forgot her mother and spoke of her often.

I promise to never forget you great grandmother, Pearl Olive Swango Wynn!!!! 

[1] Tombstone of Pearly Olive, dau. of J.L. & Rosa L. Swango, Williams Timberhill Cemetery, Craig County, Oklahoma; Family of Jesse L. Swango, Year: 1900; Census Place: Clifty, Wolfe, Kentucky; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0098; FHL microfilm: 1240555;  Family of Jesse L. Swango, Year: 1910; Census Place: Township 1, Craig, Oklahoma; Roll: T624_1248; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0024; FHL microfilm: 1375261.

[2] Claud Winn and Olive Swango marriage notice, The Welch Watchman, Welch, Oklahoma, 21 August 1913.

[3] Birth certificate of James Elbert Wynn, St. James, Phelps County, Missouri, 13 February 1916, State of Missouri, Bureau of Vital Statistics; Birth certificate of Jewell Elberta Wynn, St. James, Phelps County, Missouri, 13 February 1916, State of Missouri, Bureau of Vital Statistics.

[4] Death certificate of James Elbert Wynn, St. James, Phelps County, Missouri, 20 March 1916,

[5] Obituary of Pearl Olive Wynn, The Welch Watchman, Welch, Oklahoma, 11 December 1918.

Swetnam Connections

              The Swetnam family has piqued my interest.   I had a suspicion that John James Swetnam (1811-1898) of Bath County, Kentucky was the father, or at least related, to my 3rd great grandmother, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Swetnam Kash.  The Swetnam family is very prevalent in northeastern Kentucky. 

            Information relative to John indicates he was born in Virginia and came to Kentucky with his father, Neri Swetnam.   A review of census, reveals a daughter of the right age named Elizabeth.  He had at least 14 children between his first wife, Rebecca Osborne and his second wife, Clarinda Elkins.  That is amazing since he didn’t have the first until he was 30, and last at the age of 64.

              One tidbit I have far for John is a newspaper article issued shortly before his passing, which states, “He is one of Bath Co.’s best and most highly honored citizens.”[1] However this article does not answer the question at hand, so I keep looking.  I scoured census, marriage, death, and obituary records for the family.  I also located his obituary and it was quite large for the times.  In part it reads:

Mr. Swetnam joined the M.E. Church when he was about 37 years old.  He lived and died in strong faith in his Master, proving all things, holding fast to that which was good. . . .  Jno. J. Swetnam was a successful man in all his undertakings: 1st, he made a success in his early days as a dry goods merchant; 2d, a success in teaching public school; 3d, a success in the occupation of farming, standing always upon principles that he believed to be right and condemning that which he believed to be wrong, esteeming no man higher than he who was an upright, honorable, truthful, honest man, though misfortune may have been his lot and poorly his condition.  He was one that ruled his own house well and set good examples before his children; and no man raised 14 more honorable and creditable children than he.  To prove his goodness he had already contributed to his 14 children $700 each, making $9,800 in all, and the fruits of his good examples are shown in many ways and places by his family, this being one case in a thousand where the father and stepmother of 14 half-sisters and brothers and all were united in peace and love, none ever hearing of any difference made or partiality shown by father or mother; always and ever being “My children” with the mother and “My mother” with the children.  The bereaved widow and children have the condolences of all in their sorrow.[2]

              The obituary does include a daughter, L. Elizabeth Kash of Wolfe County, Ky.  That’s where my Lizzie lived with her husband, Eli Pieratt Kash.  My Lizzie passed away the 29th of March, 1900, long before most of her siblings.   I researched the siblings, the aunts, the uncles, the step-mother.   Surely there is more evidence that John’s daughter might be my Lizzie.   Then there was that ah ha moment, one small notation on the 2nd page of the Owingsville Outlook, 12 Apr 1900, “Mrs. Nora Kash received a dispatch announcing the death of her sister, Mrs. Lizzie Kash.”  John J. Swetnam, had another daughter named Nora who also married a Kash, and now they are discussing her sister, Lizzie’s death at the same time as the passing of my Lizzie. 

             Now I am confident John James Swetnam and his first wife, Rebecca Osborne are the parents of my Elizabeth “Lizzie” Swetnam Kash.   As I put together the documentation accumulated on John and his descendants, I reviewed the probate records for John and found one last confirmation of this relationship.   On 27 Aug 1900, the Administrators of the Estate of J.J. Swetnam, J.N. Swetnam and R.R. Swetnam, listed the final appraisement and distribution to his heirs.   Since Lizzie was deceased, her portion of the estate was distributed to her children, Edgar T. Kash, Rebecca Richie, C.F. Kash and Rosa Lee Swango (my 2nd great grandmother).[3]   They each received $8.47. 

               I believe this information would put such a smile on grandma’s face learning that her ancestors were religious and upstanding citizens.    

               Jewell Elberta Wynn

               Daughter of, Pearl Olive Swango and Claude Elbert Wynn

               Granddaughter of Rosa Lenora Kash and Jesse Lee Swango

               Great Granddaughter of Elizabeth Louise Swetnam and Eli Pieratt Kash

               Great Great Granddaughter of John James Swetnam and Rebecca Osborne.

[1] Owingsville Outlook, Owingsville, Kentucky 23 June 1898, p.4, (accessed 27 Mar 2019).

[2] Owingsville Outlook, Owingsville, Kentucky 25 Aug 1898, p.2, (accessed 27 Mar 2019).

[3] Bath County, Kentucky Probate Records, Estate Settlements 1852-1945, Estate Settlement Book 15, pp. 544-546, (accessed 28 Mar 2019).

#SLIGExperience – Day Two

Day Two of Course 9 started off with two guest speakers, Mona Lambrecht and Gena Philibert-Ortega.  I am not sure how UGA finds so many fantastic teachers.  Both were so unique in their presentations, however packed with tools, ideas and wonderful information.   I am still thinking about the ad shown for Cod Liver Oil “as palatable as milk”, YUCK, and the deviled ham sandwiches we had in the second session, YUM.  Both techniques will stick with me for a while.

So much fantastic information is being shared that I find it hard to stay focused on the presentation and not be working away on my computer.

We ended the day at the reception held by Ancestry ProGenealogists.  We toured the facility and had spirits and food, again YUM.  Word on the street is they are hiring.

I really should have taken some photographs throughout the day.  I think the excitement that has disrupted my sleep is starting to catch up with me.

Everyone I have talked with has expressed how much they are enjoying the course they picked.  My regret is that I cannot split myself in several parts and take multiple courses at once.

Wow I cannot believe it’s already Wednesday.  Why oh why is this week moving so quickly?  #SLIGExperience

#SLIGExperience – Day One

I was famished for knowledge as I entered Day One of SLIG, and a little anxious as I walked into Course 9 – Writing and Publishing Family Histories with Dina Carson.  We eased into the day discussing tools for the job and moved into developing ideas.  These were all things that I understood and could use.   The day progressed like a well-planned dinner, first the appetizer, salad and then the main course.

The ideas began to swirl in my brain for projects I could tackle after returning home.    I need to finish that blog series on Red Wynn, oh and I could do a blog on Fairland school fires or maybe a small book on Grandpa’s military service.  I have that journal of Grandpa Peery’s with his daily notes, I think that would be fun to share with family and friends.

The hunger pains were starting to subside and I could feel the protein of the meal spurring me along.  As we chatted merrily among ourselves about the class the gravy of the day began to become evident, COLLABORATION with new found friends.   Hey, do you use this software?  What research are you working on?  Have you thought about looking here?   I think I will have a second helping of that gravy on my potatoes.

Satisfied by the meal of the day, we shuffled off to the General Session – Common Threads Weaving Our Ancestral Tapestries.  Hmmm…. I wonder what this will be.  I can’t imagine that listening to someone speak about tapestries will keep my interest.  At least I had a good day in class and I can go to sleep full tonight.  BOY WAS I WRONG.  It was like eating the best dessert ever, with all your favorite ingredients.  Rich Venezia was a mesmerizing speaker.  He served up the most entertaining, educational presentation.  I was even disappointed when the talk was complete.  What an excellent ending to the day!

Well back to the room to recover from a long day of stuffing myself.  THANK GOODNESS EDUCATION DOES NOT WEIGH ANYTHING.

Can’t wait for Day Two!    #SLIGExperience #SLIG2018 #RICHROOTS


Guess what Grandma…..

I’m in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I’m here to do what I love, surrounded by people, MY PEOPLE, that think the way I do.  I can talk about my ancestors to everyone and their eyes DO NOT GLAZE OVER.

I know most people think I am crazy, using my time from work to come here and attend SLIG – Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.  “You are doing what with your vacation time – going to class – 8 hours a day for a week – attending sessions on the weekend and in the evenings?”  Oh but wait there’s even more fun, we get to go to the Utah State Archives and the Family History Library.   This  is the Super Bowl of GENEALOGY.

I woke up at 5:15 this morning and looked out the window at this beautiful city and thought about the opportunities this week.

I guess it’s kind of like the Disney commercial, I’m too excited to sleep.

I look forward to learning new things, meeting new friends and making memories in this special city.   Thank you to the UGA for providing this institute with world class instructors to assist in furthering my ambitions.

I can’t help but grateful for you my sweet grandma.  You were always so happy to sit and listen to my stories.  Even though you thought I was nosy you never discouraged my dreams.   You spent time trying to draw out things in me that make me the person I am.  I know if you were still here I would find you in your chair, with your orange jug of tea, ready to listen to all my many tales of #SLIGExperience.



AKA Red Wynn – Let’s Get Acquainted (Part 1)

Maybe we should start with what is already well known.  On August 12, 1913, twenty-year-old Claude “Red” Wynn eloped with seventeen-year-old Pearl Olive Swango in Jay, Oklahoma.  Grandpa Swango was none too happy about that, maybe because of Pearl’s age or maybe because of the difference in their social status.  Due to the battle over where the records would be held in Delaware County, the record of this marriage was lost.  The only known public record of their marriage was later found in an article published in the Welch Watchman newspaper.

Less than a year later, on June 20,1914, Red and Pearl welcomed a son, Loyd Lee “Jack” while living  in Welch, OK.   By February 13, 1916, when James Elbert and Jewell Elberta (twins) were born, the family had relocated to St. James, MO.  James only survived for a little over one month, passing away on March 19, 1916.

Red seemed to have a hard time settling down and the family was soon back in Craig County, this time landing in Vinita, OK.   During the flu epidemic of 1918, Grandma Swango (Rosa Lenora Kash Swango) became ill, and though Pearlie was warned not to come to Welch, she could not bear to stay away from her gravely ill mother.  Grandma Swango died on November 26, 1918.  Pearlie, who had also become ill, joined her mother in death on December 6, 1918.   Jack also came down with the flu but was able to recover.

These events left Red with no wife and two young children to care for.  What’s a wandering man to do?   The year 1920 finds Jewell, age 4, living in St. James, MO with her Grandpa Wynn and Aunt Selma Wynn Dowling.  Red and Jack, age 6, were nowhere to be found.   They were probably on the road somewhere when the census taker came round.

On September 7, 1920 in Vinita, OK, Red married the lovely red headed Lucy Allison.   She wasn’t prepared to care for two small children and to put up with Red’s wandering ways.   Sometime before October 1923, Lucy’s father, John Allison, came for a visit and she was all too happy to take leave from the marriage.   It may come as no surprise that no divorce record can be found ending this marriage.

To be continued….

Guess what Grandma

I have never considered myself a writer, but today I decided I would give it a shot.   I have spent all these years searching and researching, and what is the benefit of all this work if I do not share?

When I first really got interested in genealogy as soon as I would find something new, I would call or visit my grandma.  It did not much matter to her, or me, if the information was about her people.  I believe it was just the time spent together talking.   She always had a smile and acted so excited to hear the details of my discovery.  

So the theme of my blog will be, just as it began with her each time,

Guess what Grandma……