Thursday, May 28, 2015


Published in the Red Bluff Daily News Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Dr. Tracy L. Bennett

Dr. Tracy Lauriston Bennett died Sunday, July 6, 2003 at his home at the age of 74.  He was born September 16, 1928 in Los Angeles.  He graduated from Chiropractic School in 1948.  He also had his Masters in Public Health.  From 1968 to 1985 he taught Science at Red Bluff High School.  He taught Natural History and Survival classes at Shasta College Night School as well.  If you were not a patient of "ol' Doc Bennett" during his 55 years of Chiropractic practice, then you were probably a student in one of his classes.  He was a very compassionate and caring man who will truly be missed by all who knew him.  He enjoyed gourmet cooking and gardening and he was active in the Coast Guard Auxiliary at Shasta Lake for many years.  He is survived by his wife Harriet "Rosie" Bennett of Red Bluff, together for 18 years.  His mother, Edna Cummings of Red Bluff.  Daughters Robin and Andy Anderson of Shelby, North Carolina, Cindy and Barry Fulgham of Allyn, Washington, Kelley Bennett of St. Petersburg, Florida, stepchildren Tim and Char Fitzgerald of Anchorage, Alaska, Rick and Janell Fitzgerald of Red Bluff, Linda and Gary Dodd of Red Bluff, Jeanne and sandy Young of Redding, along with 19 Grandchildren.  No services are planned; any memorial contributions may be made to the charity of your choice.


For a short while a long time ago, Tracy was my brother-in-law by marriage.  He was a heck of a nice guy.  Until very recently I didn't know his whereabouts or anything about his life.  It is because of his sweet daughter Kelley that I can put an end to my wondering and present him here for all to see.

Monday, May 25, 2015



Every once in a while we are blessed with finding someone with whom we totally “connect.” Yovonne was one of those people in my life. She had a presence about her that was tangible. We worked for the same small non-profit company: I was the administrative secretary, given a great deal of responsibility by the boss, and she the warehouse supervisor.  She was one of the main reasons why our facility ran so well. There was no problem so big or so small that I felt uncomfortable discussing with her and getting her “take” on the matter. I valued her attitude, her approach, her reasoning and her constancy. I felt she brought one of the few examples of professionalism to our operations staff.

I think one of the reasons I found her special was that she was competent and confident in her supervision.  She made decisions without shooting from the hip or waffling on the reasons. I remember how the previous supervisor used to sit in the staff meetings and when the boss asked him about something, he’d get all mealy-mouthed and try to figure out an answer that wouldn’t come back to bite him. Yovonne’s approach was the exact opposite; she believed in her decisions and was forthright in her explanation of them. Dissembling was not one of her strategies; she told it like it was. I so admired her for that.

She knew what the goal was and how to get there. Many supervisors and managers trample people in that process but Yovonne considered her charges as valuable employees and worked to bring them along in every way. That she was supremely successful was testified by the number of “little people” – those hard workers who mostly worked behind the scenes – who came to pay tribute to her at her memorial service.

And she was such fun. She was one of the reasons I could get through each day at our facility. It was so hard those last couple of years; work had stopped being fun, but Yovonne hadn’t. She would fly into my office and say, “Miss Bobby, I’ve got a problem.” We’d sit and talk about it a bit, with her solving the problem in the process of ruminating about it. She didn’t need me. She needed a safe place where a sane person could be a sounding board. I was so happy that I was there where she could take a minute to restore herself. She felt incompetent to write a letter and always asked my help. She knew exactly what needed to be said. I simply put the words in some kind of order for her. That was my talent, and I thought of it as my tiny gift to her, considering the enormity of her own talent. It pleased me a great deal to do the simple typing for her. It is what friends are for.

Probably the one event that captures in my mind what Yovonne stood for was the time in staff meeting when we were all discussing which staff members should be CPR trained. Names of various people, all men, were being tossed around and everyone had a different idea of who all should be given that responsibility. I finally stated, “I want Yovonne trained, because with her I know she will get the job done. If anything happens to me, I want to be placed in her hands.” Everyone laughed, but they knew I was right. And she made all of us rethink our definition of gender roles. I’d stack her up with the best of any man.

I felt that she and I were like sisters, and I would have been proud to be her real sister, even though our skin was not the same color. I’m aggrieved that she had to suffer the terrible indignity of a cancerous brain tumor, and yet as hard as it is to say, I’m glad that she isn’t suffering any more. But that doesn’t take away the pain I feel. I am missing her a lot, still, after all this time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Sometimes I come across a life that is so dismal or so unknowable that I feel impelled to show it as an Immortal Nobody.

I first heard of Della when I married into the Kirkpatrick family so many years ago.  Della, who was long deceased, would have been my husband's aunt.  Let me give you a little background of the family so you'll know whereof we are talking.

The Kirkpatricks had been in Tennessee, right over the Alabama line, for several generations.  In the late 1930s a group of them made a move to California.  My husband was just a young tad when they settled in Compton. 

Joe and I met and married in college.  In getting to know his family, it wasn't long before I heard the name "Della" – but initially I only knew that she had an early death.  Later I heard reference to suicide; "shot herself" was whispered.  But no one ever told me the circumstances and Joe seemed not to know what happened either. 

Many years later, long after Joe and I were history, I took up genealogy but of course I wanted to get Kirkpatrick genealogical information for my kids.  Luckily, I learned that his Aunt Bettye, a baby sister to Della, had been collecting Kirkpatrick information for some time and she delightedly passed it all onto me, including  two Tennessee newspaper articles dating from 1929 that told the story of Della's demise but not much more than speculation as to "why?" 

Miss Kirkpatrick Commits Suicide
Refusal of Sufficient Money to Buy Trousseau Assigned as Reason

Richard City, Feb. 5 – Miss Della Kirkpatrick, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. W. Kirkpatrick died last night at the Dixie Hospital here from the effects of a pistol shot wound, self-inflicted earlier in the day.

Dr. Kirkpatrick stated that his daughter told him she was going to marry a man from Kansas City and asked him for money for her trousseau.  He gave her money, but not the amount she asked for, contending the sum he gave her was sufficient.  As she walked out of the door he heard the report of a pistol and found his daughter had shot herself through the heart.  She died of internal hemorrhage.

Prominent Richard City Girl Victim of Own Hand

So. Pittsburg, Reb. 5 – Funeral services will be held at 1 o'clock Wednesday morning for Miss Della Kirkpatrick, 23, who shot herself yesterday afternoon in the office of her father, Dr. J. W. Kirkpatrick, at Richard City, near here.

The entire community was shocked by the death of the young girl who was popular with a wide circle of friends.  Although she was conscious from the time of shooting until her death at nine o'clock, she never revealed her reasons for the rash act.

Miss Kirkpatrick was to have been married soon and had been making plans for the wedding.  It is thought that this may have had something to do with her act.

She came to her father's office late yesterday, bringing the pistol with her wrapped in newspaper.  After talking with his daughter for a while, Dr. Kirkpatrick stepped into another room and immediately heard the report of the pistol.  Running back to where she was, he found her lying bleeding on the floor.  The bullet entered her breast and penetrated the lung near her heart.

Miss Kirkpatrick was a member of the 1929 (sic) class of South Pittsburg High school and that year won the Civitan medal for highest grades.

Dr. Kirkpatrick is company physician for the Penn-Dixie Portland Cement company at Richard City.

If there is any additional explanation of her reasons for doing such a thing, they have passed into the big yon.  All we will know about her is that for some reason, she felt killing herself was a solution to her problem.  And she did it.

She is memorialized by a fine stone in the Kirkpatrick cemetery in Bridgeport, Alabama, and by a place in "Immortal Nobodies."   She fits, I think.

~RIP, Della~

Thursday, May 14, 2015


I met Toussaint early on in my research, when I came in contact with my dad's elderly cousin still living in Colorado.  Cousin Percy was a Dobbins, and because he stayed in Colorado which was, from 1875 on, home turf of the Dobbins family, he had become the repository of wonderful Dobbins things.  Percy was also a generous and helpful person, and one of the first things he sent me was a copy of a Note (above) written by the Territory of Kansas to Toussaint Lahay.  Percy said that Toussaint was the first husband of Nannie Corel Lahay, Percy's grandmother.

That turned out not to be so.  Actually, Francois "Frank" Lahay, Toussaint's son, was her husband.  Toussaint and family were Southerners, Acadians who had come from Canada to St. Genevieve, Missouri in the 1840s.  And the name "Lahay," which all of us researchers understood was probably La Hay and Irish, was in fact Lihais and "French." 

Toussaint, his wife Mary, and all his kids came from Missouri to Lawrence, KS to help ensure that Kansas would come into the Union as a slave state.  Amid the "Bloody Kansas" troubles, Toussaint's house was burnt to the ground by some free-staters.  The Kansas Historical Society has a nice article written by Henry Hiatt , a neighbor of Toussaint, who said, " Sometime in 1856 a party of free-state men, supposed to have been residents of the vicinity, but whose identity I never learned, robbed his house of furniture, clothing, etc., and burned it to the ground.  La Hay was not intimidated by this outrage, but immediately put up a log-pole hut with dirt floor, when he lived for some time and until he built a better frame house than the first.  I think he left our neighborhood shortly before the war, going south.  I think his daughter married Mr. Markle about the time he left.

"I felt indignant when I heard of the robbing and burning of La Hay’s house, although I was a free-state man and had come to Kansas with the intention of doing my part in the struggle.  I remember of calling on La Hay early in our acquaintance and expressing my desire that we should be neighborly.  I told him that it was only the circumstances of our bringing up that made me an abolitionist and him proslavery; had he been residing north and I south, our views would have accorded with our environments.  He seemed greatly pleased with my overtures of friendship, and we always got on well together."

Later on, Congress sent representatives to Kansas to take testimony of damage done on both sides and arrange for reimbursement of losses.  These testimonies were record in a documents known famously as "Kansas Claims." Toussaint was one of those who filed a claim; it was substantiated and he was issued some chits by the Territory of Kansas for reparations.  As the story came down in the family via Percy, Toussaint did not use them but instead, gave them to his son Francois, who gave them to his wife, who kept them until she died and they passed on to Percy's father.  They were never cashed…and somewhere in the succeeding years they were forgotten. 

Almost 100 years later, they were discovered in Dobbins material stored at Percy's house.  Percy gave them to his daughters as a "family memento."  Yes, they contacted the State of Kansas about the money owed, but of course they were no longer redeemable.  So they are monetarily worthless but make nice ephemera.

In doing genealogical research it is necessary to be open regarding spelling of names.  In Kansas, Toussaint's family wrote their last name as "Lahay." Others who wrote it mostly wrote "La Hay."  As I was researching backwards in time from Kansas to Missouri, I found their name on the 1850 census written as Lihais.  Ultimately other researchers used Catholic Church records to track the family back into Canada where even their given names were french: Francois, Antoine, Jean, Emilie, etc.  And the strangest thing is that the progenitor is Thomas La Hay of "Sollo, Ireland"  This is a strange and circuitous route in the life of a simple name.  It made me accept the possibility that the French Huegenot fellow named Daubins that I ran across in my research just might have, in fact, been my cousin!

Anyway, the Lahay family of Douglas County, Kansas, are mostly buried in the Clinton Cemetery but all were originally buried in the corner of the Lahay family farm, set aside in a deed by Toussaint.  That original cemetery is now covered by a concrete dam that was built by the Army Corps of Engineers to create Lake Clinton in the 1970s.  The original headstones accompanied the bodies from the Lahay farm to Clinton Cemetery, and new ones were erected alongside.  The Army Corps of Engineers had all the paperwork for this change, and I sent for copies of it.  Among those papers were copies of local advertisements the Corps of Engineers had made to find any living relatives of the Lahays; they wanted to bring them into the decision process of re-burial.  Had I had been doing genealogy at that time and had I known and identified myself as a relative (being a great-granddaughter of Nancy Corel LaHay - later Dobbins,) I would have have had an active part of this transfer, which included my great-grandma's two little babies.  

Perhaps that is why I am so fond of the whole LaHay family and still feel a closeness to Toussaint and his kin..

 Francois & Nannie Corel LaHay's babies - Ollie and Ella