Thursday, February 21, 2019


24 January 1831 - 27 January 1922


In the Civil War Veteran Widow's Pension Files there is a letter that Elizabeth C. Winton sent to Washington DC in 1898 after she heard the news of her husband's death in an old Soldier's home in Leavenworth.  She appeals for assistance as the widow of John R. Winton, a Civil War veteran.  

….Now I will tell you something of the former part of our lives.  John R. Winton and I were married at a hotel in Lawrence, Kansas on the 26th day of October in 1857 by a Camalite [sic] minister, and we lived at what was then Prairie City, now called Media, Douglas County, Kansas until about 1863 in the spring.  We then went to Dayton, KY where we lived until the fall of 1881, when John R. Winton came home in July that year with a very loathsome case of gonorrhea.  In all those years we had had four children, two girls in Kansas and two boys in Kentucky.  

Now in 1881 we just had one daughter living about 14 years old.  She was already very sickly so I was compelled to leave him.  I stayed in Dayton till in December 1881 then came here to Las Animas [Colorado] to my brother [James Sellers Dobbins] and have been right here ever since.  John wandered about from one [Veterans] Home to another, up in Wisconsin, at Leavenworth, and Dayton, Ohio, and finally wanted to come back to me.  He said he was well and wanted to come back.  I had not applied for a divorce but heard that he had, but he denied ever getting a divorce, but I said I would not live with him unless he married me again. 

So you see he came here to my home that I had earned all myself and had three hundred and ninety eight dollars laid by beside taking care of my daughter and making the living for her.  She died in 1885, and now my money is all gone and I have broke myself down waiting on him for he has been sick nearly ever since he had come here.  I have been an invalid ever since last May, am scarcely able to cook a bite for myself.  Can you do anything ….?  Mrs. E. C. Winton

There IS a record of a second marriage to him in the Bent County, Colorado Courthouse, and she did receive a Widow's pension.

Her obituary provides most of what I know about her life.  It says she "was one of the pioneer residents of 1882...accompanied by her daughter, Alvira, who later passed away.  She opened a boarding house shortly after coming to the city and conducted it for some time, after which she followed dressmaking as long as she was able to do this work.  She was a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church in Las Animas, Colorado."

She was my dad's "Auntie Winton."


Thursday, January 24, 2019


Born 10 Sep 1918 Ann Arbor, Michigan
Died 15 Nov 1979 Istanbul (Rumeli Hisar)
Buried 20 Nov. 1979 at Protestant Cemetery, Ferikoy, Istanbul. 

 Services were held on 19 November at the Union Church (Dutch Chapel) in Istanbul at 12:30 (National Archives, State Dept. RG59. Decimal File 367.113 (1930-1939) – Form 192: Report of Death of American Citizen.)

I first “met” Mr. Avery  by tombstone when I was temporarily living in Istanbul and  decided to check out who all was buried in the Protestant Cemetery in that city and see if any of the tombstones had interesting information on them (ALL information is interesting to a genealogist!)

Aside from his name, birth year and death year (1918-1979), there were only three words left: Love, Peace, and Züzüniyet.  So my thinking was yes, this last word was quite interesting, because my Turkish-English dictionary didn’t have it listed.

In wanting to know more about him, I found some records that showed all the degrees he accumulated in furthering his education and then learned that he had served with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) - in their Publication department .   Since I had sought help on my project from Nancy Whittler who was then serving the Mission Board in Istanbul and fluent in Turkish, having been in Turkey for many years, I asked her if she had any idea what “züzüniyet” – the word on Avery’s tombstone meant.  She laughed, and said there was quite a story about it.
According to Nancy, Mr. Avery was editor of the 6th edition of the Redhouse Turkish-English dictionary.  It was a big job, but since he loved words – their precision, derivation and meaning - he wanted to leave his unique mark on the dictionary.  He chose to do this by making up the word “züzüniyet,” which would put it as the last entry in the Turkish –English dictionary.  To this word he assigned the definition “conclusion” or “final word.”  The word “züzüniyet” does not appear in any other edition.  It is, however, inscribed on his tombstone.  

Unless one knows the story, or just happens to have that particular edition of the dictionary, the word will be untranslatable!

According to the Memorial Book kept by the American Board of Missions, Bob Avery had a special joy in life.  He loved music, as a listener and singer.  He loved children; they were drawn to him; and he gave them the time they deserved.  His humor never flagged; he saw all whom he met as children of God.  

And yes, he loved words.

He died November 15, 1979 in Istanbul.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


March 27, 1834-November 6, 1917

Las Animas Leader, Nov. 14, 1917
Las Animas, Colorado

Transcribed by Bobby Dobbins Title

Mrs. Nannie Dobbins, one of Bent county's pioneer citizens, passed away at the home of her son, R. G. Dobbins, last Tuesday evening, after a gradual failing in health due to extreme age.  The funeral service was held from the home on Seventh and Grove avenue on Thursday afternoon, the Rev. Eugene B. Kunts, D. D., officiating.

Mrs. Dobbins was born in Virginia, March 27, 1834, and at an early age moved to Kansas, settling near Lawrence.  Here she witnessed much of the border strife that made the history of that state.  She was a witness of the sacking and burning of Lawrence in 1856 by Quantrell and his band, and many other atrocities and wrongs of those stirring times.  In 1867 she was united in marriage with James S. Dobbins, to which union three children were born – Mary, who died in infancy; Robert G., cashier of the American Sugar plant here at Las Animas; and Scott W., who preceded his mother to the grave but a few weeks.  They continued to live near Lawrence until 1875 when they came to Bent county and settled near Rule Creek, 14 miles east of Las Animas.  With the coming of the railroad shortly after, the Santa Fe tracks were laid through their home and corrals, necessitating a removal.  For several years they resided at Fort Lyon, then a big frontier post; afterwards they settled on land just east of the Purgatoire and engaged in the stock business.  In 1904 Mr. Dobbins died, and Mrs. Dobbins then resided for several years with a sister, Mrs. Olive McGee, at Kansas City, Mo.  Some three years ago, on account of rapidly failing health, she returned to live with her son, R. G. Dobbins and family, in her declining years.

Passing away at the ripe age of 83 years and 7 months, with a residence in the west of nearly 10 years and in Colorado 42 years, would classify Mrs. Dobbins as one of the pioneers of the Great West.  What she has seen in her long lifetime, the things that made history for this great frontier of a great nation, would make a volume more interesting than a romance.  She was the type of woman that helped to make the development of the west a possibility.  Well educated, rugged of health and born with the fortitude that enabled her sex to undergo the hardships of the frontier and to face its dangers, both physical and mental, w\she went through life never shirking her part in any scheme of events no matter what it might be.  To such pioneers of the early days (…..) all that our county now is, for their fortitude made all things that followed, possible.

The many friends of Mrs. Dobbins during her lifetime, and of the family left behind, extend their deepest sympathy to the bereaved relatives at this time of sorrow.


"Nannie," as the family called her, was married first to Francois (Frank) LaHay, in Kansas.  They lived near what is now the Clinton Lake.  Two children were born to that marriage, son Ollie and daughter Ella, but unfortunately Frank died in 1863 while in Missouri and both children died in 1864.  At that time, Nannie moved back to Lawrence, where she lived with her sister Olivia Corel McGee and family.  The McGee's lived next door to the Dobbins family....

Nannie was my great grandmother.

Thursday, November 1, 2018



"He was a Renaissance man," his daughter Carolyn wrote to me when I reached her to find out more about my dad's cousin Traber.   I had heard of "Cousin Traber" all my life; as well as Cousin Percy, both of whom were sons of "Uncle Gaston."  My dad had left Colorado in 1930, and there were no relatives from his side of the family who followed.  Thus, when I started researching my family's history, everything "Dobbins" was new to me.

Traber was born in Las Animas, Colorado on November 25, 1896.  His mother died when he was two, and he was raised by his dad and stepmother, along with a half-brother, Percy Dobbins.  The Dobbins family were very musical.  Gaston and his brother, Scott, were both musicians, playing horns in the Las Animas City Bands for many years and also belonging to the Colorado Springs "Midland Railroad Band."  As an adult, Gaston worked as an accountant in the local beet factory, but his passion throughout his life was music, teaching music and leading bands.  Traber followed his father's footsteps in music, early learning to play the clarinet, saxophone and well as other wind instruments.

Below is a picture of Traber in the Las Animas band circa 1910.

Traber enlisted in the Navy in March 1918 and served as a musician, 2nd class, in the Naval Band at the Naval Hospital, Ft. Lyon, Colorado, until his discharge in February of 1919, according to his obituary.

But why daughter Carolyn called him a Renaissance Man was that over his lifetime not only was he active in the music field but he was interested and knowledgeable about  all wild life (particularly birds and wildflowers), and high school and college sports of all type (football, hockey, basketball, bowling, etc.); he received a medical certificate from the U of Mississippi in 1924, his BS degree from Mississippi State College in May of 1927, and a MS degree from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in May of 1932, having completed courses in entomology, bacteriology, pathology, physiology, chemistry and physics and at various times was an instructor in schools of higher learning.  In addition, in 1932 he was appointed a field aid in the Division of Fruit Insect Investigations, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, and in 1940 was assigned to the Japanese Beetle Labratory in Moorestown, New Jersey. 
He was still actively engaged in his many interests at the time he unexpectedly suffered a heart attack and died in 1952.  He left a wife, the former Vera Pruitt, and three children, Robert Norman, Carolyn and Beverly.  He was buried with military honors in the National Cemetery at Beverly, N.J.

NOTE:  Traber Norman Dobbins had a second cousin named Traber Norman.  Their Grandmothers, Nancy Corel Dobbins and Mary Corel Puckett were sisters.    My dad's grandma was also Nancy Corel Dobbins.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018



This is Kathy Fiscus, a darling little girl who lost her life way too early but in a way that probably more people in the United States knew of it than any other loss up to that time.  You will understand that by the time you read her story.

She, a three-year-old, her five year old cousin, and her 9 year old sister lived in San Marino, California, and on the day of August 8, 1949 the three of them were playing in a vacant lot near her home.  Suddenly the older two kids heard some faint screaming; Kathy was nowhere to be seen, but the kids ran toward the source of the screaming and discovered she had fallen through open hole - an abandoned well - in the ground, about 14 inches across and very deep, hidden by a clump of weeds and obviously long forgotten.  They ran home to alert Kathy's mother, who ran quickly to the hole and called Kathy's name.  She asked Kathy if she was ok, and her little daughter answered "Yes."  That was the only and last word ever heard from her.

The story of the her rescue operation, which lasted 3 days, is well documented in news and visual media and it is worth looking up and re-reading.  Television was in its infancy, and there is still a smallish group of people alive who sat glued to their new television set for three days, until her little body was finally brought to the surface.  She was pronounced dead on April 10, 1949, but it is felt she actually drowned in the water accumulated in that old well shortly after she spoke her last word to her mother - "Yes."

Everyone from family to rescue personnel to volunteer workers on large and small equipment, to movie studios who sent large floodlights were so hopeful of a good result, and as with them, we who watched this event on TV all ended with broken hearts.

There is no good thing that can be said to come from such a terrible loss, but there was one major law enacted across our nation - "Kathy Fiscus Laws" - that requires all abandoned wells to be capped and filled in.  

Although there are still a few of us who were alive during this time, it seems somehow improper to label little blond Kathy as an IMMORTAL NOBODY.  But my thinking is that once we leave this place, her short life and her name are simply apt to be forgotten.  So I gladly consider her a perfect candidate for an IMMORTAL NOBODY, and I would really encourage you to use the internet's wonderful resources to read and see the full story of Kathy Fiscus.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Clinton, Kansas - June 1917

"The fateful day, June 5, 1917, dawned hot and sultry, without a cloud in the sky.  Popular wartime songs such as "Over There" vibrated from Gramophones, and the Clinton Draft Board had set up operations in the Community Hall (formerly the Congregational Church).  Sometime after four o'clock, Merritt Woodward noticed a dome of angry clouds forming off to the west, and he decided to keep an eye on them.... Will Cummings, who had been injured by his horse, fretted in bed over his helplessness; the Monroe boy, whose parents worked for the Cummings, skipped to the Hout farm to get a bucket of milk for supper....

"Somewhat later, Merritt Woodward glanced again at the threatening cloud and discovered that its dark billows were swelling rapidly and soon would engulf the town....Suddenly the emergency was there, and no time was left for deliberation.  Emma Cummings ...somehow, with her young daughter, conveyed hefty Will Cummings down the basement stairs and were helping him into a chair as the tornado hit.  The Monroe boy, terrified, raced toward home, sloshing milk down his legs as he ran.

"Raymond's father, Green Monroe, also saw it coming, but it took him longer than he intended to lead the Cummings' four horses into the barn and tie them securely to a manger.  As the fury struck, he decided not to run for the house.  It was well he did, for although the barn was totally destroyed in the violence that followed, Monroe, the manger and the four horses were left unhurt.  Monroe's family was not so fortunate.  His wife, Lillie, was killed, as their house was shattered by the wind, and his son, who didn't quite make it home from Hout's, was struck by a two-by-four and fatally injured...."

The storm passed.

"The two Monroe victims were solemnly carried to the Methodist Church were Dr. Beach examined them and pronounced them dead.  There they lay in state for townspeople to view and remember as a grim symbol of the fearsome power of nature.

"Why the tornado destroyed one building and not another, why it killed or injured so few people, and why it missed Bloomington altogether were questions pondered by Clinton residents as they cleared away the rubble and began to rebuild their town."

From Soil of Our Souls: Histories of the Clinton Lake Area Communities" by Martha Parker and Betty Laird, Parker-Laird Enterprises, 1980.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


My Friend
Barbara L. Maineri

I normally do not use full obituaries for my Immortal Nobodies, but I am compelled to do so for Barbara.  I knew her as President of the San Bernardino Valley Genealogical Society, and we became friends there.  That group is not mentioned in her obituary, and I must confess that I had no idea she was so busy when she wasn't working to make sure our Society stayed functional and helpful!  I am sure you will be as dumbfounded as I was when you read about this fabulous woman.  I hardly knew her at all.  But she was bright, sweet and kind, and all of the SBVGS members are better folk for having known her.

     Barbara “Bobbie Nell” Maineri, 80 of San Bernardino, passed away in the early morning hours of February 6th, 2017. Barbara lost her seven-month fight with an extremely aggressive, very powerful cancer. Her passing was peaceful, without pain, and with her loved ones by her side.
     She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Ronald Maineri; son Paul Maineri (wife Karen Joy); daughter Susan Madden (husband Patrick); daughter Karen Maineri (husband Michael); grandchildren Paul Nicholas Maineri; Connor, Caroline, and Clara Mae Madden; Pria, Blessing, and Masterson Young; brothers Gary Madden, Wade Rowland, and Bobby Graf. She was preceded in death by her daughter Marianne Maineri Whitehall, mother Fleida “Mimi” Cross, father Wade “Jack” Rowland, and brother Michael Madden.
     Barbara LaNelle Rowland was born on October 11, 1936 in Houston, Texas. After meeting on a blind date, she fell in love with and married Cadet Lieutenant Ron. The two traveled the world together for 20 years, living in England, France, the U.S., and the Philippine Islands, and had four loving children along the way.
     After Air Force retirement, the family settled down in San Bernardino where Barbara became a Realtor, then later earned her bachelor’s degree in education and a teaching credential from the University of Redlands. She taught elementary school before teaching at Job Corps where she was awarded “Teacher of the Year”. Later, she taught at the San Bernardino Adult School for many years. After retiring from her teaching career, she partnered with Ron to operate their successful rare stamp auction house. She is being recognized this April by the International Philippine Philatelic Society with a Lifetime Achievement award.
     Barbara had a life-long love for sewing and was a passionate, prolific, and award-winning quilter. Quilting brought her great joy and was her creative expression. She was an active member of the Citrus Belt Quilters and held several offices including 1st Vice President. She enjoyed spending time with her quilting friends and always looked forward to their fun times creating together.
     A long-time member of the First Presbyterian Church of San Bernardino, she made many sweet friends and was active in the Corsairs Mariners fellowship group.
     When she was a young girl, her life dreams were to be a mother, a teacher, and to travel the world. She accomplished all these goals with love, grace, beauty, creativity, and humor. A friend to all she met, a protector to every stray animal, Mom and Grandmother to a fortunate few, and partner-in-life to one lucky guy.

Obituary from Citrus Belt Quilters.