Sunday, October 2, 2016


I wish I knew.  But unless I get more facts about him, it is hard to give him the fullness of an Immortal Nobody.  I only have two letters….

What do I know about J. J. Williams?  I know that in late 1891 in Grosebeck, Texas, he wrote a letter to a young lady of 17, who lived in Kosse, Texas.  She was Maud McConnell, who many years later would become my grandmother.  In December of 1891, he writes that she was "the sweetest girl in Texas" and he called her "sweetheart." 

Apparently a misunderstanding followed, and his letter written from Hubbard, Texas dated February 14, 1892, ends with "Maud, now write me a long sweet letter and tell me that you love me as in the by gone days."   


On February 18, 1893, Maud's family received word that her sister Lillie's husband, (Ben McCammon) a train engineer, had been killed in a railroad accident in Colorado, and the McConnells, which included Mom, Dad, Maud and little brother Bert, left for Colorado City.  Lillie and her children lived in a big house at 18th and Colorado Street, and that is where the family stayed to help Lillie through this terrible time.  In due time, the parents and Bert went back home to Texas, but Maud stayed with her sister to help with the children.  Once the kids were of school age, she got a job in town and in 1898 married Scott Dobbins, a rancher and musician from Las Animas, Colorado.

Here's the beauty of this story.  In 1984 when I went back to Colorado, I went to the still-standing old  house, which in the meantime had been turned into a commercial property.  When I introduced myself to the current owner of the property and told her of my Grandmother Maud's relationship to that house, she went to the company safe and returned with two letters for me.  "I've been waiting for you," she said.  "These are yours now."

She gave me Maud's letters from J. J. Williams.  I had no idea they existed until that time.  It is obvious that she did not marry J. J., but it is interesting and maybe significant that those letters came with her from Texas to Colorado.  Sadly, we will never know the details of this story.

I have always wished I could share these letters with descendants of J. J. Williams. For genealogical purposes, the lack of his first and middle names, while common in the South is a real problem for genealogists,  the commonness of his surname, and the lack of an 1890 Federal census has made all my research to find additional details turn up empty.  There are a couple of things in the letter that might be clues:  He had a friend named Webb Price; J. J. and Webb had dinner with Miss Jennie; he mentions his school is having a concert and he wants Maude to come and hopefully stay permanently; he hasn't been anywhere since Christmas except to Hubbard.  He confesses to a spell of the blues, to which Mrs. Wood said he needed some one to make a living for him.

This is all I know, which renders J. J. Williams as the most nobody of the IMMORTALNOBODIES that I know.  Lest he be completely left out, at least this much about him we'll know forever – or for as long as this blog stands.  

McCammon house at 18th and Colorado - taken in the 1960s

*If anyone has THIS J. J. Williams in their family tree, let me know at <>

Monday, September 26, 2016



Annie was the fifth of six children born to Orson and Caroline Wheeler Allen, missionaries sent to the Near East by American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.  All the children were born in Harpout in eastern Turkey.  

Orson was born in 1827.  He graduated from Amherst College and Andover Seminary.  He married in September of 1855 and sailed from Boston in October of that year with his bride.  He remained on the mission field until 1896, when he resigned and returned to America.  His wife died in 1898.  The first three of his children had died very young, and at the time his wife died, two of his three children were still on the Mission Field, and Orson moved back to Turkey to be with them.  Daughter Annie had graduated from Dana Hall, Wellesley, Bible Normal, Springfield, Mt. Holyoke College in 1890. She left Boston in 1890 to help her parents in Harpout.  She received full missionary status and appointment in 1903.

According to the James L Barton, author of "The Story of the Near East Relief (1915-1930," Annie T. Allen, of Auburndale, MA, for many years engaged in mission work in Turkey, died from typhus at Sivas on February 2, 1922,  From the time that the Turkish Nationalist regime was set up in Angora (today's Ankara), she was the representative of the Near East Relief in that city and acted as a liaison officer with the government.  At the time of her death she had journeyed several hundred miles overland on horseback to Kharput in mid-winter to investigate conditions among Armenian and Greek deportees, then on the march to exile, and to adjust difficulties between relief workers and the local government in the city of Kharput.  The weather was bitterly cold and traveling difficult.  She contracted typhus from the refugees she was attempting to help.  She died in Sivas on 2 Feb 1922.  She was 54 years old.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


The animals below have played a very important part in our lives.  It occured to me the other day that these precious pets out to be considered as Immortal Nobodies too.  Why not give them the same treatment as I have when I've selected the ordinary human ImmortalNobodies.   Yes, why not!

 SPOT came to us as a wedding gift from Bev & Ed Duffy. She was smart and sweet natured. She lived to be an old lady, looking like a bag of cat fur with some bones rattling around in it.  But she was beautiful to us, and we kept her forever until she got Alzheimer's at 18 and we had to put her down.

 1978 - 1989
DOLLY was originally Bryn's cat, but we acquired her when Bryn married.  We called Dolly our "dumb blond" - she was very pretty but a little short on judgment.  She loved her catnip!  She died from Feline Leukemia

ANNIE was Kerry's cat until Kerry graduated and moved out on her own.  Annie was not a very pretty tortie, but her smarts made up for it.  She took walks with us every afternoon, running across the lawns while we walked the dog on the sidewalk, no matter how far we went.  She lost her life when the house was fumigated for termites.  :(

This kitty, when about 4 months old, walked up to our front door one day and said he was lost.  I carried him around two blocks, hoping to find his owner, but to no avail.  So he became ours.  We named him Sammy Davis III, a black jewish cat, we said.  Everyone liked Sammy.  He was kind, gentle, friendly and never under foot.  He was easy to love.  When we went to Istanbul we passed him on to our niece, Robyn, who had loved him like we did.  He ultimately died of cystitis.

This is Chauncy, who appeared one day in our back yard and sauntered into the house to have a mouthful of the cats' IAMS.  He stuck around for about 4 days, long enough for me to give him a name that I thought would be an ego-boost for him (he was a scrappy male cat!), and then he left as silently as he arrived.  I was so sorry.  I did like the cat a lot.

Missy Maud was a "found" puppy, turned in at my cousin's vet clinic.  She was the first dog I'd ever had and what a pleasure it was, every minute of it.  All the little grandkids knew and loved her too.  She was just their size.  She got sick with an unidentified ailment and died from a stroke.

Tigger arrived at our apartment in Istanbul as a tiny little kitten.  That was our lucky day.  This cat gave us more pleasure that we ever would have expected.  He is the one we have cremated and will somehow find a way to have his ashes buried with us.   He was one loving cat, though he didn't tolerate any what he considered "nonsense" (like vet exams!)

Cipsi (pronounced Gypsy) was our second Turkish cat, arriving in the arms of a Turkish neighbor who heard her screaming underneath a parked car.  She was hardly even weaned and she wanted milk!  The Turkish neighbor spoke no English and I no Turkish, but the understanding was that if the lady could catch her I would care for her.  Cat lovers both won!  She had very long, thick hair, and once home, we had her "summer cut" done for the hot months.  In the winter she looked like a furry bowling ball.  She died in 2001 of diabetes.

19?? to 2005
This is GLORIA DARLING.  We moved into a rented house upon our return from Turkey, and it was in a neighborhood where the residents let feral cats run everywhere.  In the middle of them was this cat, who definitely had been someone's cat once (she had been spayed) but she had run with the pack for so long she was really skittish around us.  But we persevered, slowly bring her back to her real self, and giving her a name that should have let her know what we thought of her.  After a year, we had to move, and for some reason I can't remember, we left her at the old house.  The next morning at 7 a.m. I jumped in the car, pulled up in front of the old house and yelled, "Gloria Darling, I've come to get you."   She separated herself from the pack and ran to my car.  I tossed her in the cat carrier and took her to her new home with us.  She was a fabulous lady.  She ultimately died from cancer.  We'll never forget her.

Bucky was a fostered dog; he was a purebred sheltie belonging to my cousin, a vet, and lived with us, I think because we needed a dog after losing Missy Maud.  My cousin named him "Bucket of Fun", because as a tiny puppy he was the life of the litter.  He answered to Bucky.  He was such a dog, so much fun, so smart,  We were so lucky to have him until we retired and moved out of the area.  My cousin found a new home for him with a friend, but he died shortly of bladder cancer.  :(

Squeaky is our lovely old-lady cat now.  She all but talks to us and she understand exactly what we say.  There are three of us in the apartment, Jerry, Squeaky and me, and I swear we understand each other.  I used to baby-sit this cat when her owner went out of town, and at that time I told Joan if she ever needed to find a home for her, give me first crack.  All it took was a phone call about a year later and she became ours.  She resides on the end of my bed.

This is our newest, whose name changed from "Blue Eyes" to "Ziggy" when she took up residence at our apartment.  She belonged to Jerry's sister Judy, and we always were the backup for her if she needed to find another home for the cat.  When Judy decided to move to Oklahoma to be nearer her daughter, that's when Ziggy came to us, just a month or so ago.  We couldn't be happier.  She is a talkative cat, not a fussy eater, doesn't care which potty box she uses, and has commandeered my computer chair as her bed. And no, she isn't deaf. We hope we outlast both her and Squeaks; we would hate to ever have to give these two up just because we are getting old!  

So now you know the ImmortalNobodies who have touched our lives in the 41 years we've been married.  

Thursday, September 1, 2016


New Orleans, Louisiana
July 20, 1911


Philip L. Asher, one of the best accountants in the country, died last night as a result of an attack of heart disease in the Elks' Home, on Elk Place, near Canal Street, just a few minutes before the great procession started to the Union Depot to receive Colonel John P. Sullivan, the grand exalter ruler of the order.

Mr. Asher was ready to get in line with the marchers when he was seized with a sudden attack and collapsed.  He was carried into the Elks' Home by friends, and Dr. Lescalle, who was present, attended him. The unfortunate man was beyond all medical skill, and passed away in a few minutes.

The news was broken to Mrs. Asher and her children in their home at 2407 Milan Street, and their grief was pathetic.  Mr. Asher was 51 years old.  For many years he lived in Opelousas and there he served as the exalted ruler of the Elks' Lodge.  Aside from being a member of that order, he was a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Red Men and the Woodmen of the World.  Leaving Opelousas with his family a year or so ago, he went to Baton Rouge, but he had an opportunity to locate here, and three months ago Mr. Asher came to this city with his family.  His eldest son, Julius, a young man of 22 years, became identified in commercial circles and Mr. Asher was employed in one of the big lumber concerns as an accounting.

Last afternoon he told his family that he was going to take part in the reception of Colonel Sullivan and looked forward to a great deal of pleasure.  A year or so ago, when Mr. Asher was at Dubuque, where he attended a big meeting of the Red Men, he was seized with an attack and was cared for.  He did not suffer seriously and returned to his family.

Mr. Asher was born in Jackson, Mississippi.  He located in Opelousas, and almost twenty-three years ago he married Miss C. [Cleona] Weil, of Alexandria.  Five children were born to them.  Four are boys, while the other is a girl of 10 years of age.

The Elks had the body cared for by Undertaker Lynch, and the remains were kept in the mortuary parlors for the night.  This morning the body will be conveyed to Opelousas, where it will be interred.


NOTE:  The little 10 year old girl noted here is Sylvia Julia Asher, who became the grandma of my stepchildren Kathie z"l and Garry Title.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


In 1815, the young wife of Jacob Kellum, Catharine Kellum died.  On her tombstone of white marble, all that was recorded was her name and age – 29 years, four months and six days.  Jacob, a farmer, buried her in a small hilltop graveyard on Section 20 of Ezra Martin's farm along what is now County Road 400, a few miles west of Connersville in Fayette County, Indiana.

Between then and 1999, the elements – wind, rain, snow, sleet, hail and of course withering heat in the summer – took their toll, until the stone broke into bits and eventually  these were buried in the ground.  There is no record of how long they remained hidden, but eventually one of the few gravestone restorers in the United States, who happens to live right there in Indiana, found 24 chunks of a tombstone that when matched like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle turned out to have Catharine's identifying information (above) on it.

In an article published by the Indianapolis Star in 1999, the story of John Walters, the grave restorer, and Catherine, the young wife who died in 1815, is told, along with stories of other graves he has found and worked on. 

It seems to me that Catharine has been lost for too long, and getting her tombstone back up and visually accessible is a step toward putting her in front of the genealogical community to be claimed. 

And she is certainly a good candidate for being an ImmortalNobody.

Detailed information can be found at the link below.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Many years ago I remembered  reading about a fellow surnamed DOBBINS who was killed when a boiler on a steamboat blew up.  At the time, I had no interest in genealogy, but the article caught my eye because my maiden name was Dobbins and I wondered if maybe he had been related in some way to us.  But I soon forgot all about this....until recently when I read an item that indicated explosions on steamboats were just one of the hazards that befell folks as our nation grew toward the west.

When this long-forgotten Dobbins death came to mind recently, I asked Google to do something my mind couldn't do -- and sure enough using the few words I put into its search engine, it brought up the very Dobbins that I was looking for.

Here's the article from the the Quincy Daily Whig, Illinois 1854-06-01:



An extra from the office of the Oregon Spectator, published at Oregon City, dated April 8th, received in this city yesterday, from Thos. Pope, Esq., contains the following:
The Wallamette Fall Co.'s new steamer Gazelle left her wharf this morning at 6 o'clock, and had just landed at Canemah at 15 minutes before seven, when a terrible explosion of her boilers blew her into atoms, killing twenty persons and wounding many others.
Probably a more heart-rending scene has never occurred on the Pacific coast. As soon as the smoke cleared away a little, hundreds of citizens, who were ready to assist the dying, gathered on the wreck, and the work of aid commenced.
 The newspaper article went on to name the dead, and describe the gore of both the dead and the  injured. It indicated that CRAWFORD M. DOBBINS lost a leg and ultimately died.  

His family was from Illinois, but he was on a boat in Oregon.  Since he is not a member of my family, I have not researched him, but I can tell you that he has a large tombstone in the Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, and from what is written on it, he died four days after the explosion. 

In 40 years of genealogical research, I have never found that any of my Dobbinses were in Oregon. But now after finding Crawford Dobbins for a second time, I don't want him to be lost again.  And for researchers, he also appears in Findagrave. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016


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A building boom has hit hard in the rural area south of the city of Ontario and in the north-western part of Riverside County.  What used to be farm and dairy land is now turning into wall-to-wall housing.  But along a street named Belgrave, there is a long stretch that has been waiting for its turn at the building boom.  It is a fairly isolated street, not very well lit and is one of those streets where kids like to drag race.

Late one night in August of 2006 four young men lost their lives when their speeding car hit a semi-truck hauling grapefruit.  The details aren't important here except to say their car ended up wedged under the the truck.  Two boys were killed outright, two died later at a hospital. 

The young men were Kevin Limbaugh, David Barros,William Barefield, and Jonathan Hopson; all were either 19 or 20 years old. 

The north side of Belgrave in the area of the accident is lined by a white wooden fence that surrounded the property of a former ranch, now vacant and waiting for its turn with the bulldozer.  More houses would be built on that land.  But after the accident, the part of that white fence nearest the crash became a shrine dedicated to those young men.  For days, then weeks, then years, wreaths of fresh flowers, home-made crosses and posters with the boys' names were placed on that fence.  The details of the accident were immaterial; what mattered was that their family and friends – and the drivers who used Belgrave in their regular travels – were always reminded of the tragedy that happened that night, when four boys out having fun, were lost forever. 

Now eight years after the accident, the land is being readied for houses.  As I often use Belgrave, I have seen the fence come down, where the remnants of the shrine could still be seen if I looked hard.  I thought it would be nice instead of having a house on that site, a couple of acres could be turned into a park as a remembrance of those four kids.  But no, I can see it is not going to happen.  And I wonder, who will remember?  And will the people who buy that house know what happened so long ago on their very property?  Time passes, and people forget.

So for the families of these kids I say that the best I can do is to name them as ImmortalNobodies.  Mothers and fathers know that it could have been one of our children.