Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Marion & Ellen Miller Family

Francis Marion & Ellen (Wood) Miller
From L-R: Ray Miller, Marion Miller, Helena Miller, 
Charles Miller, Ellen Wood, Elzora Miller

A recently found cousin (found through this very blog) asked me if I had any photos of Francis Marion Miller and his wife Ellen Jeanette Wood. We are related through Marion's brother James Madison "Mad" Miller.  Lucky for him, I had scanned this photo some time ago and was happy to share it with him. 

I have two direct-line ancestors in this photo: Marion and his son Charles (center back). The back of the photo says that the photo was taken in 1914 and lists the members of the family (in order!). This photo was most likely taken on their farm in Richwood Township, Richland County, Wisconsin. The writing on the back states that this was taken in 1914, which puts it a year before Charles's marriage to Ruby Dyer.

I love both Ellen and Elzora's hair in the photo. I don't know how they got their hair to stay like that, but it does confirm that my stick straight hair was passed down through my maternal Lindley line!  Little Lena's dress looks like it has some type of sailor-ish collar, but with the quality of the photo it makes it hard to tell. The center-part in Charlie's hair and that crazy grin remind me of my father, even though this isn't his line. 

Most of my ancestors were just average farmers and I have rarely found photos of them. So, I feel extra blessed that we have a copy of this photograph.  

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spotlight on Ruby M. Dyer

Ruby Merle (Dyer) Miller 
8 May 1895 - 5 Jan 1990

Ruby Merle Dyer is my one of my Maternal Great-Grandmothers. I have very few memories of Grandma Ruby, as she died when I was 8 years old. I was lucky enough to have my mother, my cousin, my aunt and my grandmother share some stories of Ruby with me this week. I've included some of these memories below:
  • Ruby often made clothing for her grandchildren. Each summer she would make them shorts outfits and every Christmas she would make flannel pj's for them. My mother recalls that the flannel pj's smelled like the wood burning stove that was always running at Ruby's house. 
  • Ruby would make dresses for herself and on special occasions she would make them for others. Always thrifty, she would make patterns herself out of newspaper. She used a treadle machine to sew these dresses and it is still in the family today.
  • Ruby always kept her change in a piece of cloth that she knotted to keep together. When the grandchildren would come to visit her, she would give them a nickel so that they could walk to the service station and buy an ice cream cone. As children, they thought it took forever for her to un-knot that cloth and pull the coins out. 
  • Ruby made incredible sorghum cookies that were the size of saucers. When her grandchildren were older they would often make special trips with their friends to Ruby's house to see if, by chance, she had made any sorghum cookies recently. During the holiday season, Ruby, who was always clad in an apron, would decorate these cookies with colored sugars and cut them into fun shapes.
  • Ruby had a couple sayings that still make us laugh today. If someone didn't meet her definition of an upstanding citizen she would say that they "had the morals of an alley cat". Any time her grandchildren got in trouble she would call them "little pups".
  • To this day, my cousin thinks of Ruby every time she sees a Bit O'Honey. Ruby also like that neapolitan striped coconut candy. 
  • In her later years, my aunt recalls setting up a video camera (cars and telephones were new technology when Ruby was young) to the TV that was off to the side in her room. My uncle sat in front of her holding the camera and talking. She tried to respond to him, but was distracted and more than a little tickled by seeing and hearing herself on the TV. It was  a fairly new technology at the time and it must have been amazing to see.
  • Ruby kept an interesting calendar. Evey day she would write the weather, temperature, visitors, and major events in the daily squares. Sadly, it is believed that not of these calendars still exist. 

Ruby's Life:
According to Ruby's obituary, she was born May 8, 1895 in Richland County, Wisconsin to John and Estella (Haskins) Dyer. I have been able to verify through land records that her parents were living in Richwood Township, Richland Co., Wisconsin during this time period.

1900: The first record I have found of Ruby's existence is in the 1900 US Census for Richwood Township, Richland Co., Wisconsin. In this Census, 4 year old Ruby is living with her parents, John and Estella, and is the middle child of 5 siblings: William, Glen, Ruby, May, and June.

1905 Wisconsin State Census: We find a 10 year old Ruby living in a house with her parents, John F. and Estella, on their farm in Richwood Township, Richland Co., Wisconsin. The family expanded since the last census, adding 2 children, Roland (4) and Dolly (1), to the 5 children previously listed in the 1900 US Census.

1910: In the 1910 United States Federal Census we discover that the family continued to expand, this time adding children Artist (5) and Estel (3). The family is still living and farming in Richwood Township, Richland Co., Wisconsin.
1915: According to Ruby's obituary, on August 11, 1915 Ruby M. Dyer married Charles Francis Miller in McGregor, Iowa. The photo above was taken on their wedding day. My maternal Grandmother displayed this photo for years in her house. I always liked it, but only recently learned that it was their wedding photo.

1920: The 1920 Unites States Federal Census is the first record I have been able to find that shows Ruby as a married woman. She is listed with her husband, Charles, in Scott Township, Crawford Co., Wisconsin. Having grown up in this area, I know that Scott Township is only a few miles from where Ruby's parents were living in Richwood Township. Charles and Ruby have two children in this Census, Verlin (3) and Genevieve (2).

1930: Charles and Ruby moved between the 1920 and 1930 US Censuses. In the 1930 United States Federal Census we find them living in Clyde Township, Iowa Co., Wisconsin. During this time, Ruby became pregnant two more times. The first pregnancy resulted in twins Bernard and Byron, and the second, daughter Audrey.

1990: Ruby died in 1990 at the Boscobel Memorial Nursing Home. She was a member of the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints and was a homemake throughout her life.

Ruby and her husband Charles, share a headstone in Haskins Cemetery, Richland County, Wisconsin.

Family and Friends, please leave any memories you have of Grandma Ruby in the comment section below. This way, we call all enjoy them together.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: My Maternal Great-Grandmother's

My Maternal Great-Grandmothers
Esther Marie & Ruby Merle

Esther Marie (Tyler) Lindley
Born 31 Mar 1907 in Richland Center, Richland, Wisconsin
Married Ernest E. Lindley on 20 Nov 1924 in Richland Center, Richland, Wisconsin
Died 7 March 1974 in Boscobel, Grant, Wisconsin

Ruby Merle (Dyer) Miller
Born 8 May 1895 in Wisconsin
Married Charles Francis Miller on 11 Aug 1915 in McGregor, Iowa
Died 5 Jan 1990 in Boscobel, Grant, Wisconsin

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

1919 Homestead of Johnie F. Dyer

John Franklin Dyer, is my great-great grandfather and he lived in Richwood Township, Richland County, Wisconsin for the majority of his life. He was born to William Samuel Dyer and Barbara Ann Hinton on 27 Aug 1868.

The story of this homestead begins with Johnie F.'s father, William. The plat map from 1895 indicates that these sections of land are owned by William, who acquired the land when Johnie F. was a child. In 1890, Johnie F. married Estella Haskins. By the 1905 Wisconsin State Census, they are listed as owning the land.

The 1919 plat map, shown above, indicates that a small piece of the land was sold and they acquired an equally sized piece that aligned better with their property. From the 1920 US Census we know that Johnie F.  and his wife Estella still had a mortgage on the farm and were actively farming the land.

Plat information: 1860-1949 plat maps from Richland County, Wisconsin

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Esther Lomas

Esther Lomas

Born 14 Jul 1817 in England, United Kingdom
Arrived in America in around 1845
Died 27 Dec 1886 in Grant Co., Wisconsin, USA

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Winter on the Farm

Another photo of the farm my parents had when I was born. The picture is taken from where the house sat. The original house burnt down in 1982. We moved to town and my parents stopped farming shortly after. Photo date unknown.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Where did Hans J. Hanson live?

With no real plans for the day I was sorting through the favorites I had bookmarked on my Twitter account. I happened across a saved tweet from WI Heritage that linked to some early pictures of Richland County, Wisconsin. My Miller, Lindley, Tyler, and Hanson lines all have roots in Richland County, so I thought it would be worth a look. As far as I could tell, my ancestors weren't featured in any of the photos, but after a couple clicks I was staring at Richland County plat maps from the 1800's.

I was immediately drawn to the 1880 plat map of Akan Township because 1880 is the year I was able to find proof that Hans J. Hanson and his family were living in America. I knew from the 1900 U.S. and 1905 Wisconsin State Census' that my Hans J. Hanson was a farmer and owned land in Akan. The map isn't indexed so I sorted through each square looking for Hanson's. I knew it might be difficult to find my specific Hans Hanson as I knew their was at least one other Hans Hanson listed as a neighbor of my Hans Hanson in several of the late-1800 U.S. Census Records. Even with this against me, I was still able to locate two Hans Hanson's, one in Section 27 and one in 35. The one in Section 27 even said "H.J.Hanson"!

I wanted to make sure I could confirm or eliminate one either the Section 27 or 35 Hans Hanson. I don't have any land records or wills, but I have several Census records and started with them.  I sorted through the neighbors of my Hans J Hanson and noticed the same names coming up over and over again, but none in a particular order or location. (I've always wondered what path the census workers took.)  Finally, I logged onto and pulled up the 1880 U.S. Census (and others) and started going through additional pages until I found the other Hans Hanson. It turns out that the other Hans Hanson (who's wife was Mary) who had the same neighbors as the Hans Hanson in Section 35, which most likely means mine is really is the Hans J. Hanson in Section 27!

I took the time to compare this old 1880's plat map with a map of today and am pretty confident I know where this is located.  We have driven on the roads around this property and drive by the land when we pay our respects to the final resting place of Hans J and his wife, Antonette. Both are buried a couple sections south in Richwood Township, Richland County, Wisconsin.  I even wrote a blog post about visiting them once.

I can't wait to share this information with my family. Especially those who have taken the time to drive out to visit the graves of Hans and Antonette! I wish I had a trip planned to Wisconsin soon so I could see the land in person. I love adding chapters to this story.