December, Christmas Time

There is no better time to reflect about our family and our place in our genealogical tree than Christmas time.  I enjoy Christmas time.  I have a favorite Christmas song, The Christmas Song.  Some of you may not know it by its formal name.  If I started singing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” You would know exactly what song I was singing.  For those that don’t know me well enough, I was singing it as I wrote it! I have a favorite Christmas cartoon, A Year Without a Santa Claus.  This is the one with Heat Miser and Snow Miser.  Classic Stuff.



My father, Lawrence Walter Whitehead, proposed to my mother on Christmas Eve.  When I think of this, I realize it is a romantic time to propose.  Christmas equals family time.  We have our religious traditions as well as our ancestral traditions.  Each year we would debate about whether we should go to Christmas Eve Mass at Midnight or the earlier service.  Did your family open any Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve?  I was so jealous of my friends that had that tradition.  Until later in life when given a choice then it made it somehow infinitely better to stick it out for one more day! Ha.

My siblings will recall many of Christmas Eve’s driving around with Dad looking at Christmas lights.  Little did we know it was “come hell or high water” for us to stay out of the house for a certain amount of time.  It was a ruse to get the children out of the house so my mother could get “Santa’s” gifts ready.  So, if Dad got back to the house to early, it would be bad news.  My siblings, David and Kathy could tell a few stories about this, I hope they do.

I have this picture of my grandparents in front of their Christmas tree in 1963.  If I am calculating this correctly, this would have been their first Christmas as empty-nesters.  My grandfather is hugging grandma and looking at her as he always did.  I love the tree with its tinsel.  There is this Christmas ornament on the tree of a red elf with long legs and a short skirt; it seems very familiar to me.  I think we might have had one on our tree as well.

Odelle & Lacy Sublett December 1963

Odelle & Lacy Sublett December 1963

My siblings and I have grown up and left our parents to be empty-nesters, but we have taken our familial traditions and morphed them into new ones.  My sister’s Santa wraps gifts in the same colored paper for each child.  Our Santa did not wrap his gifts.  We had stockings with fruit and some candy.  I do not know what Joe and his wife do for stockings.  Maybe they take on some of Bethany’s family traditions.

Cheryl and I decided long ago that we would get a tree every year.  We each wrote a short essay to each other to explain why it was important to have a tree.  I am not sure why.  I am sure I have the essay somewhere, because I do not throw anything away.  What I can remember is that in my essay, I gave all kinds of reasons, and hers basically said, that if I wanted a tree, she wanted me to have a tree.  That is love.  See Christmas time is family time and family time is Love.


Here’s to a great Christmas season with your family.


What does it mean to be funny or witty?  I think both are different types of humor.  What part does humor play in our family?  Where do we get our sense of humor?

“Humor: The ability to laugh at any mistake you survive.” ~Jerry Tucker

“Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever.”
Mark Twain in Eruption

My family cracks jokes (teases) with each other often.  It was one of the first things I warned Cheryl about was that if we tease you, it is because we like you.  Cheryl did not really seem to understand this logic.  I think it took Dee Dee a while to understand it was our family’s way.  But, it is.  I do not know where we got it from because neither of my parents teases in this way.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents are fun and humorous people.  But, they do not use teasing as a way of expressing themselves.

I have this picture of my grandparents, Lacy and Odelle, dressed up for some type of party.  It makes me smile.  Where are they going?  I am not sure, but they both look like they are ready for a good time.  Lacy has a pipe and some suspenders.  My grandfather passed away when I was very young (11 years old), but I always remembered him as a jokester.  I know I have written about it before about his wiggling his ears, etc.


Lacy and Odelle embracing the funnier side of life

Lacy and Odelle embracing the funnier side of life

My grandmother was not as silly as my grandfather, but she enjoyed a good time.  I remember her laughing a lot.  I wonder if that is what she saw in my grandfather.

My Uncle Don is a funny guy as well.  He would honk to cows when we were younger and is always jovial.  He would place bets with my mother on golf and they would sign and date bills.  They both kept them for years.  He even made a shrine of them one time.

The Shrine

The Shrine

uncledon and leah

Don and Leah paying homage

Who else was funny or has a great sense of humor in our family?  If you have a story, please share.


Kersten History

Much of what I know about the Kersten side of the family (my father’s mother side) is from my Aunt Annette.  Annette’s research and her connection with Agnes Perings (my second cousin 1x removed).

I am hoping Annette will add her knowledge as we explore this side, as I have not done as extensive of research.

Below is a type of transcript from Agnes.  Since English was not her first language, I have changed the wording to flow better but not the content.

He was born 24 March 1843 in Manderfield.  He died 13 January 1905 at Hergersberg.  His wife was Anna Maria Reiter, she was born 24 August in Hergersberg and died 31 January 1917 at Hergersberg.  Mathias’s father was called Daniel Kirsthen.  His wife was Margaretha Gierten.  Daniel’s father was named Mathias and his wife was Magdalena Hoffman.

Daniel Kersten (Kirsthen) was born 16 October 1792 at Kleinlangenfeld by Prum.  Due to the change of name from Kirsten to Kersten I think, that there is a connection between his desertion from the army of Napoleon.  At that time Daniel Kirstehn was a soldier with the Napoleon Army during the Napoleon Wars.  Daniel escaped from that country, he came to Belgium by way of Austria and Switzerland.  There he (Daniel) learned the trade dyer and cutter.  He stayed at Manderfeld, married and called himself Kersten.

Napoleonic War Map

Napoleonic War Map


What I have heard about where my ancestors lived was a piece of land that moved into various countries during the wars.

Map of Central Europe from 1814-1923

Map of Central Europe from 1814-1923

Hergersberg is a hamlet in the district Manderfeld located in the Belgian province of Liège So, does this make us German or Belgium?  I am not sure as the history of this area went through a series of transformations.


Carrie Lou a Gibson Girl?

My mother recently came down for a visit.  It was great having her here.  We spent some time going through my family photos that I have collected.  We came across a few of her grandmother, Carrie Lou Hicks Moss.  I wrote about her previously, but after finding these pictures, I think there is more to tell.

Carrie Lou Hicks

Carrie Lou Hicks

Carrie Lou Hicks

Carrie Lou Hicks

According to her birth certificate, her name was Caroline.  When Carrie Lou Hicks was born on March 21, 1888, in Amherst, Virginia, her father, Lemuel, was 38 and her mother, Emma, was 27.

As she came of age in the early twentieth century, historically there was a shift taking place in America.  Consumerism was growing in terms of magazines and fashion.  Gibson Girls were the rage.  These women were displayed in magazines like Harpers, Scribners.  These women displayed self-confidence.  “The envy of all who knew her, the Gibson Girl remained aloof of her surroundings but not to the extent of haughtiness(Source:

Most women during this time still lived and work on the farm.  However, Carrie Lou and her family moved from the farm in Amherst to the city (Lynchburg) sometime between the 1900 and the 1910 census.  The 1910 Census shows that Carrie and two sisters (Allie and Elizabeth) worked as stitchers at a shoe factory(Craddock & Terry Shoes).  Carrie’s father, Lemuel, also worked at the factory as a Night Watchman.

Craddock & Terry Shoe Store

Craddock & Terry Shoe Store

On August 30, 1913, Carrie married Thomas Irving Moss.  It appears that she stayed home while raising their three children.   In the 1930 Census, she is listed as not working.   However, at some point, Carrie went back to work as a she is found to be working as an Operator Room Repair for the public schools in the 1940 census.  While she is listed as employed for the census, the census also indicates that she had been unemployed for 50 weeks that year.  Carrie only had a 5th grade education (source: US Census, 1940).  As you recall there was a depression going on.  In April, 1935, “FDR signs legislation creating the Works Progress Administration. (Its name would be changed in 1939 to the Work Projects Administration.) The program employs more than 8.5 million individuals in 3,000 counties across the nation” (Source:

Thomas Irving and Carrie Lou Moss

Thomas Irving and Carrie Lou Moss

At some point she started working in the cafeteria at John Wyatt School.  Carol Sublett Johnson recalls lacing up her corset for work since her arm was in a sling.  Betty Sublett Whitehead recalls Carrie bringing home cookies from work.

Carrie died in 1956, according to her death certificate, she died from pulmonary insufficiency and anoxia.  She was 67 years old.


Veteran’s Day

With Veteran’s Day coming upon us, I wanted to reflect on my brave family members that fought for this great country whether they saw combat or not.  My father’s line goes at least 4 generations

Lawrence Walter Whitehead, US Marines (Korean War); Fred Augustus Whitehead, US Army (WWII), Walter Everett Whitehead, US Army (WWI), and George Wiley Whitehead, Georgia (Civil War).

I have always told people, my father was lucky that he did not have to fight in a war that he was able to get in, get out, get his GI Bill, and go to college.  Well, that is still mostly true.  He recently told me though that he is considered a Veteran of a Foreign War because during the final days of the Korean War, when it was all about over, there was some type of delay with peace treaties.  His squad was activated and they boarded a Naval Ship and were deployed.  However, an armistice agreement was signed, and his ship returned.

My grandfather, Fred Augustus and his brothers, Walter Joe and George Stevens were all in the military.  Fred was fortunate because by the time he entered the service, WWII was ending.  It was practically a requirement from what I understand as their father, my great-grandfather Walter Everett Whitehead was a true Patriot.  He even tried to re-enlist for the Second World War, but they told him he was too old.  During his enlistment, he rose to the rank of Major.  According to Vivian Whitehead,

“Papa was a very patriotic man.  In WWI (1918) he enlisted and eventually

became a part of the Calvary unit.  He continued in the reserves and was

designated as a major.  In WWII he tried to enlist again and was refused

due to his age.  He served on the Madison County draft board and after

the war he was the person selected by the state of Georgia to be honored

by President Truman (1947).”


George Wiley Whitehead, fought with the following Units in the Civil War

Georgia in 1st Regiment, Company E, Georgia Partisan Rangers,

13th Georgia Calvary, Company E.

16th Battalion Georgia Calvary, Company H.

You can learn a bit more about the civil war if you do an internet search about “Partisan Rangers”


George Wiley Whitehead was wounded in one of the battles of the Civil War.  He was wounded on 17 September 1864 when he was shot on the top of the head with a bullet of some sort.  Go back to my previous post about his amazing love story that followed.


Lawrence Walter Whitehead, USMC

Lawrence Walter Whitehead, USMC

Walter Everette Whitehead, US Army

Walter Everett Whitehead, US Army

Fred Augustus Whitehead, US Army

Fred Augustus Whitehead, US Army

George Wiley Whitehead Civil War Veteran

George Wiley Whitehead
Civil War Veteran


Long time gone

I apologize for the time delay.  As most of you know I was fortunate enough to travel to Italy early this month.  It was definitely a trip of a life time.  The history of Italy is so long, it makes the history of my genealogical studies seem so small in comparison.  When I was able to trace an ancestor to the other side of the pond, it has been a major discovery.  But seeing buildings and works of art that are centuries old seem to put things in a different light.  What if that ancestor I found in Germany was a descendent of another great battle?  Or if that ancestor I found in France was a descendent of a queen or king?  That is why I continue to trace my ancestors and explore backwards.



Mom and the three pillars

My mother was born, Betty Lou Sublett on 6 October 1941.  She was the second daughter born to Lacy Luke and Virginia Odelle Sublett.  Her sister, Carol, was born exactly 2 years earlier in 1939.

When I think back on how my mom’s upbringing must have been, I think of three distinct pillars, family, music and volunteerism.

My mother and her sister grew up in a multi-generational home.  Her maternal grandparents lived with them.  It was likely for financial reasons, but we are not certain.  It could have also been for medical reasons as Betty’s grandmother, Carrie Lou, lost part of her arm from post-operative complications from breast cancer.

Mom also lived close to other family members.  Her paternal grandparents lived in the country.  Mom has shared stories of going down to the farm on Sundays after church and spending time with her cousins and other relatives.

I also think of music when I think of mom growing up.  She was coming of age in the 50’s when music was becoming very important to teenagers.  This is now defined as classic pop.  Groups like the Four Freshman, Kingston Trio, and Eddie Fisher were some of the music talents that she listened to as she was coming of age.  Mom said that “Elvis was to greasy for her, I (she) was more preppy than that.”

I remember music filling our house when I was growing up, granted it was show tunes by then, but music was always playing.  I also remember when we lived in Novi, my parents hosted a block party of sort, and Novi’s finest, Novi Police Officers, stopped by not once, but twice for the loud music.  I can still remember, they were playing Kool and the Gang’s ‘Celebration’.  I was babysitting across the backyards.

The last pillar, volunteerism is another attribute that comes to mind when I think about mom.  There are articles in my genealogy collection that show mom as a young girl as president of a Y-teen Club.   Later after she was married she was an active member in the Middleburg Heights Women’s club.  She also belonged to the Novi Athletics Booster Club.  She has dedicated a ton of hours to a variety of causes whether it was the Snow Ball Dance to raise money for handicapped children, or the Booster Club to raise money for teen sports she was always busy helping others.  Her most recent adventure has been as a volunteer for the USO.  She volunteers several hours a month so that all the service members and their families have somewhere nice to rest in while traveling through Charlotte’s airport.

I am quite proud of my mother’s volunteerism.  I have always given back in some small way.  I have recently upped my volunteerism  to join the rotary club here in Richmond.

You can tell by this post that I love my mother.  That is the easy part, but, more importantly I am proud of my mother and all of the accomplishments she has done for not only us as children and then adults, but what she has brought to her community.

We will talk more about her and my parents courtship later.

Mom volunteering at Christmas for the USO

Mom volunteering at Christmas for the USO

Snow Ball Dance  circa 1978

Snow Ball Dance
circa 1978