Thankful Thanksgiving Day Thursday

As I sit here in my home this Thanksgiving, I want to thank my ancestors.  I have been exploring backwards for several years now and every time I discover a new gem or connect with a distant cousin, I am thankful for those that have gone before me.  I just wanted to write a short bit about a few.

 

I am thankful for my great-grandfather Peter Kersten for embarking across the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life here in America.  He was 21-year-old, and in his native country of Germany, it was not the familial custom to acquire land from his parents, so he was left with little options.  He chose to come to the new land, America.  The year was 1893, it was known as the Progressive Era, a period of widespread social activism and political reform in the United States.  Support for prohibition was growing as was woman’s suffrage (source:  The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project).  The irony is Peter was a brewer by trade until Prohibition (1920-1933).  According to the 1930 US Census, he was an Elevator Operator.  The effect of prohibition was so profound that he had to change occupations.

Kersten Family

Kersten Family

I am also thankful for my grandfather, Lacy Luke Sublett, he was born in 1909, he was too young for World War I, but when the Second World War came along, he had incurred an injury to his leg that would keep him home.  This had to be difficult to see your other friends and neighbors go off to fight the Axis powers.  I consider him the family chameleon.  He was born in the country on a tobacco farm but made his way to the city of Lynchburg at a young age.  He started out on his own living in Lynchburg as a shipping clerk in 1921.  He married his first wife in 1931.  By 1934 he was working as a Life Insurance Agent for Provident Relief Association of Washington D.C.  He met and married my grandmother, Odelle.  They went on to have two children, my mom and my Aunt Carol.  He worked for a couple different Insurance Agencies until he went to work for Conner Produce Company.  He continued to work for them throughout the war.

Lacy and his daughters

Lacy and his daughters

Lastly, I am thankful for Margaret Agnes Kersten, my paternal grandmother, whom I have never had a chance to meet.  She was a first generation German-American growing up on the south side of Chicago.  Her and her brother during prohibition and she came of age during the roaring 1920’s.  I often wonder how she introduced Fred Whitehead to her parents.  He was a Georgia born, Army man who was working in Chicago at the Army Recruiting Offices when they met.  He had been born and raised Baptist and Margaret was a devout Catholic.  They married and went on to have three children.

Margaret and her Parents

Margaret and her Parents

Although I often write about dead people, I am most thankful for my family that is living in my life today.  My parents are both so warm and loving.  I am so very blessed to have the best siblings and sibling in-laws, nieces and nephews.  So, take the time today to let the “family” in your life how thankful you are for them.  I am thankful for mine.

 

Source:

Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, retrieved 11/24/19 from https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/progressive-era.cfm

 

 

 

Georgia on my mind

I recently went to Georgia to go through the home of my ancestor, Walter E. Whitehead. When you think that this house has been in continuous family ownership and operation since it was built around 1920.

Carlton Home

Carlton Home

That means for nearly 100 years, someone in my family has lived there. That also means almost a 100 years’ worth of papers, pictures, antiques, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it is not full to the brim of just stuff (like an episode of Hoarders), the place is more museum like. It has been well-loved and well taken care of.  This brings me to my point.

While I was there, I went through two trunks and a curio cabinet. I did not even scratch the surface. But, I found my Grand Uncle’s Rhode Scholar information; I found a grammar book that was my grandfather’s when he was about 11 years old. I found a picture of my grandfather and his siblings.

I wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to my cousin Sara and her daughter Christine for the colossal endeavor that is going on. If I only lived closer I would be able to help.   I plan to go down again, but needless to say, it takes an airplane and a rental car to get there, so it will be a minute.

Below are some pictures of the recent discoveries by Christine and a few that we took while we were there.  So many stories to tell.

Walter E. Whitehead

Walter E. Whitehead

Marge Walter E Mae Pellie Gus or George W Cynnie Fred

Whitehead Family

G. S. Whitehead Passport

G. S. Whitehead Passport

Papa's wall of fame

Papa’s wall of fame

Luna Mae Stevens Whitehead

Luna Mae Stevens Whitehead

Until later,

I will be exploring backwards

P.S. Things have gotten busy this summer.  I hope to post more soon.

July 4th 2013 (Thankful Thursday)

The following is an excerpt from a journal of sorts written by Odelle Moss Sublett (my grandmother).  This was written 37 years ago when our country was celebrating her bicentennial.

“Happy Birthday America! The cry was heard over all the land! Oh glorious beautiful, perfect 4th!  What a birthday! A great and proud nation paused to pay tribute and give thanks for all the many blessings that had been showered upon her people these past 200 years.  We reflected upon the integrity, the honor, the perseverance of our forefathers…”

“July 3, 1976

Today was a beautiful, busy day.  Carol, Lacy, Leigh Anne, Andy and I went to Kilmarnock to see the parade.  It was a really good parade and lots of fun.  Donna Lacey rode in the parade as Tobacco Ball contestant.  We took a great many pictures and goofed off a great deal.  When Donna’s float came by, Carol yelled “STOP.” The driver stopped and we hope we got great pictures.  The Bank of Virginia’s float depicted a bank robbery scene.  New 1976 pennies were thrown from a sack…”

“Sunday, July 4, 1976

Happy Birthday, America!  This is the ‘big day, the real day’ 200 years “old” or should I say “young.”  The day dawned partly cloudy and was usual for the past several days but nothing daunted our spirits.  We knew the sun would be shining brightly very soon.  It was the nation’s birthday.  We all felt a sense of great joy and anticipation.  The day had finally arrived for ‘We, the people.’ Carol, Andy, Leigh Anne and I started the day by attending services at White Stone Baptist Church.  It was a beautiful service.  The ‘town crier’ proclaimed the ‘day of worship.’  Then the color guard entered followed by the choir.  We sang the ‘National Anthem’ and pledged allegiance to the flag.  We recited ‘the American Creed.’…At 2 o’clock a signal was given in Philadelphia for church bells to ring all over the country.  Carol and I had to rush from the dinner table to make it to church.  A neighbor saw us practically running up the street.  If she hadn’t given us a ride we would have been late.  We got there just in time for the bells.  Then we all sang ‘Happy Birthday, America.’

I am so thankful that I have this document.  It really gives me insight into my grandmother.  It is wonderful to know how she felt.  She did a wonderful job of expressing her feelings.  This very historic day is now forever recorded.  I know all of the people in the story.  It is a vivid description of the events happening in a small town in Virginia in 1976.  My family came down to White Stone after the 4th of July.  We spent the rest of the week there, and then we went back to grandma’s afterwards.  Odelle writes “Betty and Larry and family came with us home on Sunday.  We stopped by St. John’s Church in Richmond and were lucky enough to see the reenactment of Patrick Henry’s Liberty of Death Speech.  It was wonderful.”

I had to look up what the American’s Creed.  William Tyler Page wrote this creed.  You can find it in its entirety here:  http://www.ushistory.org/documents/creed.htm

Wow, I had to look up Patrick Henry’s speech too.  It actually took place at St. John’s Church on 23 March 1775.  I am sure that as an 8-year-old child.  I was not as impressed to be standing in the same place.  But as I reflect back today, it must have been an awesome feeling for my grandmother.

So today, as we celebrate our Nation’s birthday, I will pause to remember my grandmother and be thankful for her and her patriotism.

Grammy, Kathy and I

Grammy, Kathy and I