Wetherall-Hardman family tree
The following table shows 3 generations of ancestors (parents, grandparents, and great grandparents) and 3 generations of descendants (children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren) of the family of William B. Wetherall (1911-2013) and L. Orene Hardman (1913-2003).
The above family tree is intended to show individuals in recent ancestral and descendant generations of the Wetherall-Hardman family. The following family tree features only the Wetherall-Hardman family, and five generations of ancestral families, as couples or unions rather than as individuals.
Numbering of nuclear families and family members
Every ancestral family or union has been assigned a unique identification number. The purpose of this number is to facilitate discussion of the more significant direct and collateral families and their members.
The "Wetherall-Hardman" family is the family of William B. Wetherall and L. Orene Hardman, who married in San Francisco and eventually settled in Grass Valley, California. They are descendants of Iowa and Idaho families which in turn stem from families that stem from families that stem from families as far back as there were families -- or unions between men and women.
In this family history, I will speak of "families" as unions of family lines -- hence the "Wetherall-Hardman" family is a union of a particular "Wetherall" family line and a particular "Hardman" family line. To facilitate the organization of information about both families and their members, I have named and numbered the component families or unions according to the scheme in the following chart.
These so-called "nuclear" families are numbered by generation of ancestry going back (or "up") in time. Members are numbered by order of birth within each generation of descent going forward (or "down") in time. The "back" and "forward" numbering schemes, however, are somewhat different.
Ancestors and ancestral families
The ancestral families of Family 1 are sequentially numbered Family 2, Family 3, and so forth according to a simple numbering scheme I adopted for this purpose -- rather than identify each family according to its generation.
Note that even numbered families (Family 2, 4, 6, 8) represent families of lineal male ancestors of Family 1, while odd numbered families (Family 3, 5, 7, 9) represent families of lineal female ancestors.
Note also that the numbers of the main patrilineal line families (Families 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, et cetera) represent the number of lineal ancestral families in each generation -- namely, there is 1 family in the present (0th) generation, 2 in the 1st generation back, 4 in the 2nd generation back, and 8, 16, and 32 in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations back, et cetera.
There is, of course, a mathematical relationship between the family number and the family's generation in relation to Family 1. See the "Family history 101" article for details.
Descendants and descendant families
Descendants of families are numbered going forward in time with decimal numbers affixed to the family number. The children of the Family 1, for example, are numbered in order of their birth -- 1.1 (1st child, Billy), 1.2 (2nd child, Jerry), 1.3 (3rd child, Mary Ellen), and 1.4 (4th "adopted" child, Clara).
Subsequent generations can be similar described. The Wetherall-Hardman grandchildren through Mary Ellen (1.3), for example, are represented as 1.31 (Gabriel / Gurditta), and their great-grandchildren), again through Mary Ellen, are 1.311 (Siri Parmeshar) 1.312 (Amrita).
The same scheme is used to describe the descendants of other ancestral families. Hence William B. Wetherall, the first son of the Wetherall-Baldwin family (Family 2), is 2.1, his first younger sibling Mary is 2.2, while Mary's second child is 2.22, and her second child's first child is 2.221.
Individuals common to two or more families
Individuals born into one family may become members of other families through marriage or adoption. Such individuals, when listed as members of two or more families, will be identified by two or more numbers which facilitate cross-referencing between their multiple families.
For example, William B. Wetherall and L. Orene (Hardman) Wetherall are both 1.0 as principals (parents) of the Wetherall-Hardman family (Family 1). But WBW is 2.1 as the 1st child of the Wetherall-Baldwin family (Family 2), while LOW is 3.2 is the 2nd child of the Hardman-Hunter family (Family 3).
One could also describe WBW as 4.21, signifying his descent from Family 4 (his paternal grandparents' family) or as 5.41, denoting his descent from Family 5 (his maternal grandparents' family), and so forth, while LOW is 6.52 and 7.12 as a descendant of respectively her paternal and maternal grandparents' families, et cetera. However, there is no reason to identify them other than in relation to their two immediate families -- namely their natal and marital families.
Such multiple identification facilitates cross-referencing tables of data showing members of two families that are linked by individuals through marriage or equivalent relationships. The same scheme will also be used to represent individuals in either lineal (direct) or collateral (branch) families and to cross-reference families that are linked through the individual by marriage or adoption or fostering.
On this website, nuclear families are described in tables listing member names and particulars such as dates and places of birth and death. The tables are numbered according to the above scheme.
Most nuclear families consist of two parents and their natural, adopted, or fostered offspring. More than two parents may be listed when there are half or step siblings.
Parental unions include legal and common-law marriages and other partnerships. Distinctions in the kind of the partnership will be made when necessarily. Distinctions between formal and informal adoptions and foster relationships, and half or step relationships, will also be clarified when necessary.
All family tables have the following titles and headings.
Within the tables, members are listed in the following order.
Collateral relationships in Wetherall-Hardman family
Collateral relationships present the most difficulty. Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins are all collateral relatives.
Most cousins we know are "1st cousins" and beyond that the terminology becomes confusing. There are also 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and subsequent cousins within the same generation. And all such cousins can be once, twice, thrice, four times, and further "removed" by 1, 2, 3, 4, or more degrees of generational separation.
And there are also such things as "double cousins".
1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins
1st cousins are the closest cousins -- the children of aunts and uncles defined as sisters or brothers of one's mother or father -- hence people who share the same grandparents.
Double cousins result when siblings from one family marry siblings from another family. A child born between a maternal aunt and a paternal uncle, for example, would be a double cousin. And children of a union between an aunt and an uncle on either side are double nieces or double nephews to their aunts and uncles.
2nd cousins are the children of first cousins -- thus people who share the same great grandparents.
3rd cousins are the children of second cousins -- or people who share the same great-great (2nd great) grandparents.
One of my contacts was the wife of a 3rd cousin, Thomas Lee, who I have never (and most likely will never) meet. We are total strangers to each other -- as I ultimately am to his ancestors -- including (1) his mother Mary (Hunter) Lee, a 2nd cousin and student of my mother Orene (Hardman) Wetherall in a one-room country school in the 1930s, (2) his maternal grandfather John Abraham Hunter, a 1st cousin of my maternal grandmother Ullie May (Hunter) Hardman, and (3) our common great-great parents, Nathan Thomas and Obedience Forbes, who were the parents of Ullie M.'s mother and John A.'s father, who of course were siblings.
FAMILIES AND MEMBERS RELATIONSHIP 15. Thomas-Forbes (common relatives) 15.4 Jobe Cornelius Thomas 15.10 Ida Frances (Thomas) Hunter Siblings Thomas-Winchester 7. Hunter-Thomas 15.32 John Abraham Thomas 15.101 Ullie May (Hunter) Hardman 1st cousins Thomas-Wilson 3. Hardman-Hunter 15.332 Mary (Thomas) Lee 15.1012 Orene (Hardman) Wetherall 2nd cousins 15.10121 William Wetherall 2nd cousins once removed Lee-Thomas 1. Wetherall-Hardman 15.3323 Thomas Lee 15.10121 William Wetherall 3rd cousins Lee-Townsley/Davis 1.1 Wetherall-Sugiyama 15.33231 1st Lee child 15.101211 Saori 4th cousins 15.33232 2nd Lee child 15.101212 Tsuyoshi
Cousins once, twice, thrice removed
A "removed " relative is one who is one, two, or more generations "separated" diagonally on a cross-generational chart. In other words, the collateral generations are different.
Two examples come to mind in the Wetherall-Hardman family pyramid, including lineal and collateral families.
Theo and Stephen
Eleanor Theodosia "Theo" Vincent nee Thomas (15.93) was geographically and socially the closest collateral relative of Louida Orene Wetherall nee Hardman (3.2) and the Wetherall family in both San Francisco and Grass Valley. More Wetherall family time was shared with the Vincents than with all other relatives combined.
Theo was a first cousin of Orene Wetherall's mother Ullie Hardman nee Hunter (7.1), since Theo's father (15.9) and Ullie's mother (15.10) were siblings. Theo and Orene were therefore first cousins once removed.
To Orene's children -- namely this writer and his two siblings -- Theo was a first cousin twice removed, and to Orene's grandchildren she was a first cousin three times removed, et cetera.
FAMILIES AND MEMBERS RELATIONSHIP Thomas-Forbes 15.10 Ida 15.9 Wesley Siblings Hunter-Thomas Thomas-Jayne 15.101 Ullie 15.93 Theo 1st cousins Hardman-Hunter 15.1012 Orene 15.93 Theo 1st cousins once removed Wetherall-Hardman 15.10121 Billy 15.93 Theo 1st cousins twice removed 15.10122 Jerry 15.10123 Mary Ellen Wetherall-Sugiyama (Billy) 15.101211 Saori 15.93 Theo 1st cousins thrice removed 15.101212 Tsuyoshi Zweig-Wetherall (Mary Ellen) 15.101231 Ditta 15.93 Theo 1st cousins thrice removed 15.101232 Peter
Theo's son Stephen was related to the Wetherall family like this.
FAMILIES AND MEMBERS RELATIONSHIP 15. Thomas-Forbes 15.10 Ida Thomas 15.9 Wesley Thomas Siblings 7. Hunter-Thomas 15.9 Thomas-Jayne 15.101 Ullie Hunter 15.93 Theo Thomas 1st cousins 3. Hardman-Hunter 15.1012 Orene Hardman 15.93 Theo Thomas 1st cousins once removed 15.93 Vincent-Thomas 15.93 Theo Vincent 15.931 Stephen Mother and son 1. Wetherall-Hardman 15.1012 Orene 15.931 Stephen 2nd cousins 15.10121 Billy 15.931 Stephen 2nd cousins once removed 15.10122 Jerry 15.10123 Mary Ellen 1.1 Wetherall-Sugiyama (Billy) 7.1211 Saori 15.931 Stephen 2nd cousins twice removed 7.1212 Tsuyoshi Zweig-Wetherall (Mary Ellen) 15.101231 Ditta 15.931 Stephen 2nd cousins twice removed 15.101232 Peter
Burton Hunter and descendants
Ullie (Hunter) Hardman was 29, and her youngest sibling, Burton Lyle Hunter, was 5, when their mother Ida Frances Hunter died in 1920 during the second wave of the 1918-1920 flu epidemic. The Hardmans, raising their daughters Babe and Bug on Central Ridge, took Burton into the family. Babe was 9 and Bug was 7, and they understood that Burton was their younger uncle, but he would virtually grow up as their little brother. He wasn't formally adopted or fostered, but was simply raised, in the Hardman family, and so he remained a Hunter.
There are many pictures of Babe, Bug, and Burton together over the years they were growing up, and some of Bug and Burton when they are in their 20s. Bug and Burton were especially close, and my mother was shocked by the news in 1973 of his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She expressed her shock on a tape letter she recorded just two weeks after his death, and sent to her first cousin, Maxine (Keene) Jones, the daughter of Ullie's and Burton's sister Eva Keene, who at the time was dying from a stroke she had suffered shortly before Burton's death.
Burton was, as Orene wrote to Ullie on the back of a photograph taken during the early 1930s, "my favorite uncle" -- but emotionally he was her little brother. I seem to have met him once when I was tiny, but I knew him only as "Uncle Burton". And I regarded his son, Burton Douglas Hunter or "Little Burt", who was born half a year after me, as simply a "cousin" in the same sense that I regarded my maternal aunt's children as my cousins.
I didn't learn until much later that "Uncle Burton" was actually my mother's uncle, hence my great uncle, and that "Little Burt" -- though a bit younger than me -- was my mother's 1st cousin, hence my 1st cousin once removed. At first it struck me as odd. But after hearing my mother's story of why Burton, and his slightly older sister Almeda, came to be literally "farmed out" to relatives when their mother died in 1930, my mother and Babe's closeness to both Burton and Almeda made much more sense.
Burton's first two children have crossed paths or had contact with the Wetherall-Hardman family, though only briefly and remotely -- Burton Douglas Hunter (7.91) and Mary Judith (Hunter) Sherrill (7.92). As Burton's children, they are my grandmother Ullie's nephew and niece, my mother's 1st cousins, and my 1st cousins once removed.
Judith's third child, Gulliver Jimson Sherrill (7.923), is my second cousin, and just as his mother is my 1st cousin once removed, my mother is his 1st cousin once removed. Since Ullie is Judith's aunt. In relationship to Ullie's parents, Gulliver is the 3rd child (great grandchild) of the 2nd child (grandchild) of the 9th child of the Hunter-Thomas family (Family 7) in which Ullie (7.1) was the first born. His mother, Mary Judith Sherrill nee Hunter (7.92), was the daughter of Burton Lyle Hunter (7.9), the last born. This made Ullie Gulliver's great aunt.
When Gulliver first corresponded with me (WOW), he referred to his mother as my cousin, and described his mother's father as "Burt Hunter, brother of Almeda Oglesby, and also youngest brother of Grandma Ully [sic]" (21 November 1997).
Gulliver's description was not correct, but neither was it wrong. Burton Hunter was raised mostly by his oldest sister Ullie, and grew up thinking of her more as his mother than as a sister. And Burton and my mother, Orene, grew up essentially as brother and sister, though in fact he was her younger uncle and she his older neice.
Since Ullie and Burton were siblings, Judith was Ullie's niece and Orene's first cousin, and as children of first cousins, Gulliver and I (and he and my brother and sister) are 2nd cousins.
Gulliver came to Japan for a year of study as a college exchange student, during which time he met my children and I met his parents. Since he and I are 2nd cousins, and he and my children are one generation apart, they are 2nd cousins once removed.
FAMILIES AND MEMBERS RELATIONSHIP 7. Hunter-Thomas 7.1 Ullie 7.9 Burton Siblings 3. Hardman-Hunter Hunter-Foley 7.11 Ullie A. (Babe) 7.91 Burton Douglas Hunter 1st cousins 7.12 L. Orene (Bug) 7.92 Mary Judith Hunter 1. Wetherall-Hardman Hunter-Foley 7.121 Billy 7.91 Burton Douglas Hunter 1st cousins once removed 7.122 Jerry 7.92 Mary Judith Hunter 7.123 Mary Ellen 1. Wetherall-Hardman Sherrill-Hunter (Mary Judith Hunter) 7.121 Billy 7.923 Gulliver 2nd cousins 7.122 Jerry 7.923x Gulliver's children 2nd cousin once removed 7.123 Mary Ellen 1.1 Wetherall-Sugiyama Sherrill-Hunter (Mary Judith Hunter) 7.1211 Saori 7.923 Gulliver 2nd cousins once removed 7.1212 Tsuyoshi 7.923x Gulliver's children 3nd cousins
Wetherall-Hardman families in censuses
The principle members of the Wetherall-Hardman family and related ancestral families are found in national censuses from 1790 to 1940. The range of censuses in which a specific family can be traced with a high degree of certainty varies according to the time-line of the union.
Most lines are clearly traced between 1860 and 1940, but some individuals, and entire households, are missing in some censuses. The 1890 census is not shown because it was destroyed in a fire. Most families living in Iowa appear in intermediate Iowa state censuses, which are not shown in table (but see Note 3).
Only the paternal "Wetherall" line is shown in the following table, and it is shown for only four generations. The particulars for these four generations, and for the multiple lines that converge into the Wetherall-Hardman family, are shown in tables on family-related pages.
The censuses for all lines related to the Wetherall-Hardman family show that its ancestors crossed the United States from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Missouri to Ohio, Iowa, and Nebraska, then Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California, not necessarily in this order. Descendant lines show that migration continued to define the increasing diversity of the extended family.
Standing on shoulders
The trail you are about to enter is a labyrinth of branching trails with loops and spurs that sometimes cross or simply dead-end as they cut, turn, wind, and twist through the genealogical terrain of families whose members, if separated by more than two or three generations, are most likely strangers to each other -- mere names and cyphers on lists like those shown here. Anyone attempting to pursue every branching root of their family would immediately confront the reality of the exponential rate at which one's lineal biological ancestors multiply with each generation. It's a bit mind-boggling.
The history of every family on earth goes back to the beginning of life whenever that was and however it took place. If you believe in Adam and Eve, then we all go back to the Garden of Eden. If you think we descended from tiny mammalian creatures that in turn descended from earlier forms of life, and gave rise to monkeys that in turn evolved into homo sapiens, then we all begin then.
Fortunately, the known family history of the Wetherall-Hardman family that found its way to Grass Valley in 1955 is not that extensive -- never mind that the Wetherall family crest is a bunch of bananas and the family animal is an ape. Still, it's a bit of a maze, which requires some navigation aids.
This is what
The theme of this journey along the trails of the "Wetherall-Hardman" family of San Francisco and Grass Valley, California -- those that came together to form the family, and those that then branched away to places near and far -- is "standing on shoulders". This is what all of us do as people. We are born and raised on the shoulders of others, and in time we die under the feet of those who stand on our shoulders.
For a fleeting moment, when we are born, we lay, sit, and crawl, and eventually stand, walk, and run on the pinnacle of a pyramid of families beneath us. In time we become part of a larger pyramid that includes above us our children, grandchildren, and possibly great grandchildren. And in time they, too, are displaced by newer families above them.
The older families die off and eventually living memories of dead families also die. Faces may survive in photographs and thoughts may survive in letters and diaries. Family historians find boxes of such mementos and detritus in closets, attics, or storage sheds.
Making sense of material evidence is no easy matter, even when one has access to witnesses who can confirm the identity the people and events in the photographs, or otherwise testify about the past. Memories fail or become confused.
Names may survive in public records. But finding the records, determining their reliability, and interpreting them -- imputing meaning to a census enumeration or draft registration card -- requires hard work and critical analysis.
The lure of the past
Most ancestral trails become obscure and disappear in the underbrush of time. A few have been well posted and traveled, and for this reason they are easier to find. The more familiar and better defined trails seem more meaningful, but only because we know them. The less accessible, lost, and unknown trails are inevitably more exciting. And nothing holds out more hope for thrills of new discovery than an unblazed trail. For me, the lure of the past is irresistible.
None of this exploration leads anywhere -- other than to the obvious conclusion, known from the start of the journey, that every person who has ever been born has countless ancestors -- and that all so-called "family trees" ultimately belong to the larger forest of humanity.
Genealogy is not family history. Knowing the names and birth and death particulars of your ancestors is not the same as knowing who they were, individually or collectively. A biological tree at best confirms the sexual imperative of mammalian human existence.
"Family history" begins and ends with stories about people in the context of their lives as members of families, however large or small, or conventional or unorthodox in their composition. My pursuit of my own family history had deepened my realization of how much the lightness of my being weighs on all the shoulders I stand on, including but not limited to my most recent biological ancestors.
A family's history cannot be written without information about its past. What I think I know about the Wetherall-Hardman family is partly based on censuses, public records, photographs, audio tapes, publications, and graveyards, but also on correspondence, including letters from my family members, but also email exchanges.
Among these sources, the most precious have been past and present members of the family who have shared their experiences and knowledge with me. Thanks to the Internet, which facilitates crossing paths and getting in touch with people, my informants include a few distant cousins and cousin-in-laws I will never meet.
Most of what I think I know about the history of the Wetherall-Hardman family I owe to the following people, on both sides of the Wetherall-Hardman family, in the order of their year of birth
Maternal side -- Hardman, Hunter, Gallaher, Thomas, et cetera
Paternal side -- Wetherall, Baldwin, Beaman, Steele, et cetera
Hunter sisters and Hardman girls
I can't remember when I first realized I was interested in my family's past, but the seeds were undoubtedly planted by my maternal grandmother, Ullie May (Hunter) Hardman (1891-1980). After my grandfather Owen Monroe Hardman (1890-1949) died in San Francisco, where they were living with us, Ullie returned to Idaho and settled in Lewiston, where they had been living before coming to the city. Lewiston was close to Central Ridge, where the Hunters and Hardmans had homesteaded, and to the village of Peck, where she and Owen had lived after selling their Central Ridge farm.
In Lewiston, Ullie became active in the Luna House Historical Society (1960), now the Nez Perce County Historical Society, which centered on the Luna House Museum, now the Nez Perce County Museum. From about that time, my grandmother began compiling notes on what she knew and could find out from other relatives about the people on her side of the family, and now and then she conveyed her findings to me.
Before she died, Ullie gave me copies of several lists of members of a number of related families with birth and death dates and comments in the margins. These lists served as springboards for later conversations with my mother about her life growing up both on Central Ridge and in Peck. Ullie also shared her list with a few other relatives in her extended Hunter-Thomas family.
The "Golden Age" of
Years before she died, Grandma Hardman gave me a lot of picture postcards addressed to her and/or to Grandpa Hardman, dating from the mid 1900s to the mid 1910s, spanning the years shortly before to shortly after they were married -- and, as it turns out, the peak of the "Golden Age" of popularity of picture postcards as means of communication.
After Ullie's death, her youngest sister, Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby, and her oldest daughter, Babe (Hardman) Emerson, would continue to feed my desire to know more about the family -- as would my mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall or "Bug" to her relatives and older friends.
While my grandmother Ullie was the primary source of information on my mother's Hunter and Hardman families, she also contributed to the start of Theo (Thomas) Vincent's gathering of information on the Thomas family. Ullie and Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby were sisters. Bug (my mother) and Babe (my aunt) were Ullie and Owen Hardman's daughters. Theo was Ullie's and Almeda's first cousin as Theo's father and Ullie's and Almeda's mother were Thomas siblings. Theo was therefore Babe's and Bug's 1st cousin once removed, and this writer's 1st cousin twice removed.
Theo, inspired by Ullie's work on their common Thomas line, worked with other Thomases interested in family history. She and her husband, Wilton Vincent, always lived fairly close to us in California, and being slightly younger than my mother, Theo was more like a close 1st cousin or even a sister to her, and more like an aunt than a 1st cousin twice removed to me and my brother and sister.
I am also in debt to two in-law cousins, Mary Sue Van Ryswyk of Iowa and Niki Lee of Idaho, neither of whom I have met, for information on the Wetheralls and Thomases and related families, and to Darci Severns, a 2nd cousin on my father's side who helped contribute photographs and information concerning Anstine and other cousins he had known and lived with during his childhood and school years.
Mary Sue facilitated my communication with her mother-in-law, Mary (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells, a paternal aunt I met only once in Iowa in 1958 and wrote after my father's death in 2013. I also wrote Thayne (Dainty) Ireland, my father's and Mary's 1st cousin and my 1st cousin once removed, who I also met only once in Iowa in 1958. Thayne shared her family albums with Mary and Mary Sue, which expanded our understanding of the family, and we directly corresponded by email.
Niki facilitated communication with her mother-in-law, Mary (Thomas) Lee, a younger second cousin of my mother, and she shared many photographs of Thomas related families. Mary had been a student of my mother in a one-room school.
Darci and I crossed paths when I responded to her cry for help in understanding the lines of our common Baldwin-Steele ancestors. She reciprocated by helping me understand some of the missing parts of my father's stories about his relatives. And each of us in turn went on to discover new information about our shared lines.
Such collaborations make family history both more fun and rewarding.
Last but not least among my most valuable informants are my brother, Jerry Alan Wetherall, and sister, Mary Ellen "Mellon" (Wetherall) Zweig, who patiently tolerated my constant questions about events and happenings in the course of our shared lives under the same roof while growing up. Our adopted sister, Clara (Cheung) Yang, shared the final 10 years of life with our mother and 20 years of life with our father.
Family histories, though about the past, and for the future. And hence this history of the Wetherall-Hardman family is dedicated to the extended families of its children, throughout the world.
Wetherall family visits and trips
One or more members of the Wetherall family made a number of trips to visit relatives or simply to travel. These included mainly trips to Idaho, but also a trip to Iowa, to visit relatives, summer camping vacations in California, and an occasionally step outside the United States. Relatives and friends visited the Wetherall family in San Francisco and Grass Valley, and relatives in California regularly visited one another. Here I will list all visits and trips in chronological order under 3 categories -- Visits between relatives and friends, Travels with relatives or friends, Family camping trips.
Visits between relatives and friends
I made 1 virtual and 7 actual trips to Idaho -- 1940 (in my mother's womb), 1941, 1944, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1973, and 1977. The first 3 of these I know only through photographs and what I recall my mother telling me about them. The last 4 I myself recall. I also clearly recall the single trip my family made to Iowa in 1958. I was unable to join the family trip to Idaho in 1959. My mother alone, or my parents together, also made a number of trips to Idaho and Washington. I will title such visits to relatives in purple.
Many of my mother's relatives, but also a few of my father's relatives, visisted us in San Francisco and later Grass Valley. I will title visits from relatives in green.
Peck 1940 Idaho trip
My father, while serving as clerk for Judge William Healy at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, was sent to the Boise office of the Idaho district of the Ninth Circuit Court for a few months. During this period, My mother who was expecting me, stayed with her parents in Peck. 17 of the letters she posted in Peck to Bill in Boise have survived.
See Letters from Peck to Boise (1940) on the "Orene family letters" page for transcriptions.
Ullie Hardman's 1941 (1st) San Francisco trip
I was born in March 1941. Ullie Hardman, my maternal grandmother, came to San Francisco shortly after I was born and stayed with my parents for a few weeks.
1941 Idaho trip
My parents brought me to Peck a few months after my birth in March 1941 to show me to my mother's family. We stayed with her parents, Owen and Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, at their home in Peck, where her maternal grandfather, Albert Douglas Hunter, also lived. Some pictures include Burton Hunter, the youngest of Ullie's 7 surviving siblings. Burton was a year younger than my mother, but he was raised by Ullie since he was 5, so he was more like a younger brother than an uncle to my mother.
I was Owen's and Ullie's first grandchild, and Granpda Doug's (Albert Douglas Hunter's) first great-grandchild, so there was a lot of picture taking. I seem to have been passed around so everyone could have their picture taken with me. I got held in arms, bounced on knees, and ridden on ankles. I seem to have been a major attraction. The first born are fated to be slobbered over.
Ullie's 1942 (2nd) San Francisco trip
Ullie visted Kirkham St. home of Wetherall family in San Francisco for 3 months after Jerry's birth in September 1942.
Ullie and Owen Hardman's 1943 San Francisco trip
My brother Jerry was born in September 1942. Our maternal grandparents, Ullie and Owen Hardman, visited us in San Francisco for a few days. During their stay, Burton Hunter, Ullie's youngest brother and sibling, who she rasied from age 5, also visited, in a U.S. Army uniform, as he had been called to service during World War II.
1944 Idaho trip
Several photographs show us at the Hardman home in Peck during what I am guessing was the summer of 1944. At the time of this 2nd trip, my mother was expecting her 3rd child, who was born in January 1945, my sister, Mary Ellen.
Among the several prints from this trip, one I marked "Peck c1946" on the back when going through the family pictures with my mother in the late 1990s. In looking at them now, two decades later, and comparing them with photographs with later dates, I am concluding they were taken in 1944.
Ullie Hardman's 1945 (3rd) San Francisco trip
My sister, Mary Ellen, was born in January 1945. According to the 28 February 1963 entry in her diary, Ullie "Arrived in S.F. 18 yrs ago today to stay with Bug. [Bug} Had been ill since M.E. born in Jan."
June 1946 Idaho trip
I have no unequivocal photographic evidence of this trip. A single snapshot my mother tentatively thought was waken in 1946 -- according the note I penciled on the back of the printing when going through the photographs with her -- appears to be part of a set of prints taken in 1944. However, in a letter she posted from Peck in 30 June 1947 she clearly alludes to being in Peck "last summer".
June 1947 Idaho trip
My mother took me, Jerry, and Mary Ellen to Peck in June 1947, according to the date on the back of one of the several pictures from this trip. The date appears on the back of a picture of ME with our 1st cousin I'man Emerson, who was born in February 1945.
My father's collection of letters from my mother include 17 letters from her during this trip, postmarked in Peck, from late (before 30) June to 4 August. One letter refers to 17 August train reservations from Portland. The trip involved family complications -- Ullie Hardman's health (pending hysterectomy), her desire to leave Peck, my father's talk about leaving San Francisco to work in Idaho, my mother's desire to stay in San Francisco, my father's start of a new job with Malone & Sullivan in San Francisco, Babe's marital problems, and other matters that kept my mother writing and calling my father from Peck.
Apparently my father accompanied us to Peck and stayed a few days then returned to San Francisco. Whether he drove up, or they went by train, is not clear. He left his medicine and fountain pen at the Hardman home in Peck, and my mother mailed them back to him. He appears to have been in contact with lawyer friends in Idaho, hence his thinking about relocation to the northwest, closer to his and Orene's families.
During this trip, Faye and her family visited my father, her 1st cousin, in San Francisco, as they were vacationing there in early August. My mother had visited Faye and her family in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and Faye later wrote my mother, in Peck, in a letter dated 22 July 1947, about her own vacations plans, beginning from 1 August, during which they would visit Bill in San Francisco. Faye regretted that they wouldn't be able to see my mother again there. She remarked that Lennie [Anstine] [her and Bill's 1st cousin] and Archie [Severns] and their two children were visiting her at the time. She remarked that they [the Severns] had recently sold the store they were running [in Centralia, Washington] and were taking life easy for a while. She also wrote that her mother, Sadie, was hoping to go to Kentucky before September. She asked my mother to forward her letter to Bill, which my mother did, with her own letter dated Wednesday (23rd), postmarked Peck, July 23, 2 PM, 1947.
My mother wrote my father, in a letter to my father postmarked Peck, [? Ju?] 1947, "You have some awfully brown kids up here. Mennen has the best tan she's ever had & Billy is black. Jerry is a shade lounger so he isn't quite so dark; but even his back will be the envy of the block."
In a "Monday" letter postmarked Peck, 4 August 1947 [Monday], 2 PM, Bug wrote that "The kids are getting excited about the train trip now. They have the days down pat -- that is, our departure & arrival dates. Even M.E. keeps talking about sleeping on the train & playing with her tricycle [in San Francisco] again."
In several of the letters, my mother speaks of me as the mail carrier, chasing down hill to the postoffice to check for mail, and waiting impatiently for her to finish a letter that I could run down the hill to mail. All but a couple of the letters are postmarked 2 PM, the others 10 AM.
See Letters from Peck to San Francisco (1947) on the "Orene family letters" page for transcriptions.
1948 Idaho trip
The first Idaho trip that I can claim to actually recall in some detail took place during the summer of 1948. My mother took only me on this trip to Peck in 1948. She left my brother Jerry and sister Mary Ellen in San Francisco with the Crows, who were friends of my parents (according to a family conversation taped in a Lewiston motel on 23 December 1973). No correspondence from my mother to my father survive.
During this visit, I spent a couple of days in Peck, then a week or two at the home of my mother's older sister, Ullie Adaline (Hardman) Emerson, in Headquarters, on the other side of the Clearwater, up stream and higher in the mountains. The town was the home of the main railroad yards of the Potlatch Lumber Company and the terminus of the 4th Subdivision (Orofino-Headquarters branch) of the Campus Prairie Railroad.
Aunt Babe, as we called her our mother's sister, was living with her 2nd husband, Ralph Emerson, a logger, who we called Uncle Ralph, and their 1st child, our first cousin, I'man, who was then only 3.
The 1948 summer is very deeply imprinted in my memory, as I developed what seems to have been my first crush on a girl from nearby Pierce named Noralee Brady. I was 7 and she was 7. She was from Pierce, but her family was living in Headquarters at the time. She had a unicycle, and I spent a lot of time trying to ride it, but despite Noralee's best efforts to teach me, I never able to stay up very long. She, though, could stop on a point and stay up.
Even more memorable was a ride on one of the Potlatch Lumber Company's new diesel engines, pulling a logging train under the control of its engineer, George Thomas Chrystal (1910-1978). It turns out that George was born on 23 March 1910, 31 years to the day and month of my birth in 1941. That Christmas, George sent me a two page story on the battle between steam and diesel that was dividing Potlach railway engineers, featuring a photo of George in the cab of the same engine I had ridden with him.
The summer of 1948 was start of my "railroad fever" from which I have never completely recovered. The trip to Idaho and back was by train, and I studied everything and even drew pictures of different kinds of engines and rolling stock I saw. Playing around the tracks at the yards in Headquarters, and going out on the diesel locomotive, were mesmerizing experiences for a city boy who liked riding the streetcars in San Francisco. I began building models, and for Christmas in 1949, my parents gave me and my brother a Lionel train set consisting of a steam locomotive, a few freight cars, and enough track for a figure 8.
Only when I was older did I understand the purpose of our 1948 visit. One afternoon, several weeks or a few months before the trip, my mother got a letter from her mother, and while reading it she started to cry. I asked asked what was wrong, and she said something like "Papa is dying." My comprehension of what dying meant was limited, but I realized that Grandpa was sick and wouldn't live very long. I did not, however, connect the news that he was dying with the trip to Idaho.
After we returned to San Francisco from Idaho, sometime during the fall of 1948, we moved from our home on 24th Avenue to a larger home on 33rd Avenue. In the March 1963 memoranda of her diary, after summarizing the contemporary statuses of her children and grandchildren, Ullie wrote this about herself, Owen, and two of her brothers.
I'm a widow. Owen died in 1949 -- Aug 2. Had gone to Calif in February  for cancer operation. Buried in Lewiston. Albert shot himself accidently on 5-23-60 -- died instantly. Louie drowned in Seattle in Jan 48.
I clearly recall coming back to San Francisco and finding that my brother, Jerry, had traded one of my favorite toys, a wooden wagon that I had assembled from a kit, to one of his friends, if not to one of the Crow children.
1952 Idaho trip
I also generally our 1952 trip to Idaho. By then I had begun to take an interest in the past -- especially "Indian lore" and warfare - though I disliked history as a subject in school.
My mother took her three children to Idaho late in the summer of 1952 on the train from Oakland via Portland. We lived for a couple of weeks with Aunt Babe and her family in Lewiston. Babe had remarried Howard Dammarell, and her children with her 1st husband Ralph Emerson, our 1st cousins I'man and Waki, who were about our age.
We also visited several of my mother's relatives in Peck and in the Lewiston-Clarkston area. We may also have been visited by a couple of my father's relatives in Coeur d'Alene, north of Lewiston. But I remember only our stay at Babe's home, which involved lots of activities. This was the first and last time that all three of the Wetherall-Hardman children were in Idaho together. Our father, busy with his work in San Francisco, was unable to come.
1958 Iowa trip (summer reunion)
I made only one trip to Iowa, during the summer of 1958, and my trips to Idaho were in December 1973 and September 1977. I documented parts of the Iowa trip and the last two Idaho trips with a camera, and both of the last two Idaho trips with a tape recorder (see below).
In the summer of 1958, my father took his family back east to visit his paternal relatives in Iowa. We stayed in Knoxville at the home of Aunt Alice, his father's youngest sibling, and her husband Wilbert Dainty and their children, Willard, Thayne, and David Dainty. My father was closest to Alice, as he lived with his paternal grandparents while going to grade school in Knoxville. Alice, herself still living at home and going to school, was like a big sister to my father.
We also visited several other Iowa relatives, including 2 of my father's 4 half-siblings, Mary (Wetherall) Van Ryswyk and Helen (Wetherall) Morrison, and their families, who lived in nearby Iowa towns.
This would be the only time that any of us -- my father, mother, or any of the three of us children -- would ever meet my father's family in Iowa.
My father's step-mother, Nellie (Van Houton) (Wetherall) Sailors visited Grass Valley once, in 1959. His half-brother Warren Wetherall, who by then had settled in Banning, California, also seems to have visited Grass Valley, possibly with his mother in 1959. And Mary (Van Ryswyk) Wells visited Grass Valley in the 1990s. Otherwise my father had practically no direct contact with his Iowa side. He (and we) were closest to his mother's side, which had migrated from Kentucky to Washington and then Idaho, by way of Nebraska and, before that, possibly Iowa.
1959 Idaho (summer reunion
All members of the Wetherall-Hardman family -- except me -- drove to Lewiston during the summer of 1959 for a grand reunion with relatives in the region. Unfortunately, I was unable to join them. I had just graduated from high school and was working full-time in San Francisco. Three of four surviving Hunter sisters -- Ullie Hardman, Almeda Oglesby, and Eva Keene -- organized a family reunion in Lewiston that drew about 70 relatives from nearby areas.
This trip followed the summer 1958 Iowa reunion (see below). Like the Iowa trip, it was conceived as both a summer vacation and reunion. It would be the last such summer vacation the Wetherall-Hardman family would take.
1973 Idaho trip (Christmas reunion)
The entire Wetherall-Hardman family visited Idaho together only once -- in December 1973, centering on Christmas. At the time I was going to graduate school in Berkeley and living there with my then wife, Etsuko Sugiyama. My brother had married, worked for the Peace Corps in Africa, divorced without children, and had just begun working in Honolulu. My sister had married and had a son, but had recently divorced, without custody, and was working in Santa Rosa.
The party of 6 -- 5 Wetherall-Hardmans plus 1 daughter-in-law -- trekked from Grass Valley to Lewiston in 2 automobiles, east over the Sierras and north through Nevada and southern Idaho, through considerable snow and with few gas stations and motels along the way, at the height of the oil crisis. We left Grass Valley on 22 December, spent one night at a motel in southern Idaho, and the following morning pushed through to Lewiston, where we stayed the nights of the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of December in two units of a motel with kitchen-equipped units. We left Lewiston early in the morning of the 26th but I can't remember our route back to Grass Valley, or whether we stayed a night somewhere.
The visit centered on Lewiston but we also went to Peck. I set out to record on audio cassette tapes as much as possible of conversations, especially between the Hunter sisters (my maternal grandmother and great aunts) and the Hardman girls (my mother and aunt). My father's 1st cousin, who lived in the area and knew both my grandmother and aunt, also joined us, and we met a number of familiar friends of the Hunter-Hardman families.
1975 Idaho trip
Orene Hardman attended a Peck High School Class of 1931 reunion.
1977 Idaho trip
My last trip to Idaho was from 18-24 September 1977 with just my mother. We drove up in her car, over the Sierras and north through Nevada and southern Idaho, but returned through the Cascades of Oregon and northern California. Thus on our way home to Grass Valley, California, we passed through Grass Valley, Oregon. We spent the nights of 19-23 September in Lewiston.
During this trip I made the following recordings of conversations with "Grandma" as I called my mother's mother, Ullie (Hunter) Hardman. All the conversations included my mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall, and some included her sister Ullie Adeline "Babe" (Hardman) (Dammarell) Emerson, who lived in Connell, Washington, Ullie's 1st daughter and my aunt, and her aunt Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby, Ullie's 4th and youngest sister and my great aunt, who lived in Clarkston, Washington.
This would be my last visit to Idaho or anywhere for the purpose of meeting my mother's or father's relatives.
1978 Idaho trip
My mother went to Idaho alone in 1978. She made a number of visits to Idaho by herself, and she and my father made at least one trip together without us children. My mother went to Idaho about once a year after Ullie entered the Orchards Nursing Home in Lewiston in 1974. When going alone, she flew to Lewiston out of Sacramento on flights that involved stops and transfers.
1979 Idaho trip
This year my parents visited Lewiston, to see Ullie, together. They also visited Almeda in Clarkston.
1980 Idaho trip
Orene, my mother went to Idaho to be with Ullie, her mother, my grandmother, when Ullie fell and broke her arm (I recall hearing "shoulder" but letters from my mother and father say "arm"). Two weeks later Ullie died. Babe was also present with Ullie when she stopped breathing.
Peck High School Class of 1931 reunion
My other corresponded with Peck High School classmates who organized the 50th reunion of the Class of 1931 and received the album and other bybroducts, but it appears that she did not attend. I believe she attended a later, smaller scale reunion but cannot find photographs.
Other family related travels
The Wetherall family often visited Theo (Thomas) and Wilton Vincent at residences in various towns in California, and in Reno, Nevada, and Orval and Ella (Coon) Hunter in Almeda. Occasionally Orene travelled with the Vincents to visit common Thomas and/or Hunter relatives.
Orene Hardman travels with the family of her college friend Marguerite Ellen Manion (later Anderson) through Oregon, California, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. 13 postcards and letters from Orene to Bill are postmarked as follows.
9 June 1936, Walla Walla, Washington
Bill and Orene Wetherall travel to Japan in mid March to participate in marriage of their son, this writer, to Etsuko Sugiyama. Earlier in the year, the Sugiyamas traveled to the United States to visit my parents.
Orene Wetherall comes to Japan in April and May 1980 to spend a couple of weeks with her 16-month old grand daughter, Saori Orene Sugiyama Wetherall, in Nagareyama.
Bill and Orene Wetherall traveled through Germany and Austria from 28 September to 12 October 1989. Their 1st destination was Salzburg, which they reached via an international LTU (Lufttransport-Unternehmen) flight from San Francisco to Düsseldorf, where they arive on the 29th, then a domestic LTU flight to Mü, a bus to Haupauptbahnhof Central Station in the city, and a train to Salzburg. Diary entry related to arrival at Salzburg observes that the "Only black person we've seen was in S. Station. Also a drunk, flat out, either being helped -- or rolled! -- by a young man."
Orene traveled with Theo (Thomas) and Wilton Vincent to Westwood Hills Memorial Park in Placerville, El Dorado County, California, in 1991, to attend the memorial service for Cornelius Fernando "Nando" Thomas. Nando was Theo's 1st cousin. And both Nando and Theo were 1st cousins of Orene's mother Ullie. So Nando and Theo were Orene's 1st cousins once removed. Nando died in Oregon, but had been living in Placerville when Amanda, his wife, died in 1981. Amanda was buried with a headstone that included Nando's name and "1895-19" -- which now reads "895-1991". At the time Nando died, the Vincents were living in Auburn, north of Placerville on Highway 49, and the Wetheralls were in Grass Vally, further north on 49. The Vincents later moved into a retirement home in Placerville.
Visits to the Wetheralls
Babe was at our home in San Francisco when Owen died in August 1949. She and Ullie, and my mother, took his body to Lewiston for burial in Normal Hill Cemetery, where Owen and Ullie had bought two side-by-side plots. Ullie then lived in Lewiston, where she worked as a bookkeeper at the city's state liquor store. Idaho, though not a dry state, permits the sale of packaged alcohol only through state dispensaries. Local communities can enact laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol by the drink, as at bars, but they cannot prohibit packaged sales for private consumption elsewhere.
Audio / video
Most of what I heard from my deceased ancestors when then were alive remains forever lost. Only a fraction of what they told me remains in my memory, and memories are notoriously unreliable.
While the dead can't speak, I can still hear the voices of some on the dozen or so audio tapes that survive from the 1970s. I have, in Japan, a total of 14 audio cassettes, including 1 tape letter and 13 tapes of conversations. All of the tapes were recorded between 1973 and 1978 -- 2 in California and 12 in Idaho -- and they total 18-1/2 hours mostly of conversations between three or more people.
Part of William B. Wetherall's story, told in his own voice, survives in an interview Gregg Schiffner recorded in 2011 when collecting information for the program he was preparing for my father's 100th birthday party. His voices and movements also survive in a number of video recordings Gregg made on various occasions between 2010 and 2013. Gregg integrated some of the footage into a DVD he study he made of Bill's life titled "William Bascom Wetherall -- 102 Years of Living the Miracle" (2013).
There are also seven home-recorded acetate-on-aluminum discs of Wetherall children talking or playing a piano or cello.
The discs have National Hollywood Disc, Wilcox-Gay Recordio Disc, and RecorDisc labels.
On a number of occasions during the late 1940s and early 1950s, while living in San Francisco, our father would bring home a rented recorder, a disc or two, a cutting stylus, and probably some pre-recording fluid, hoping to capture his children's budding oratory and musical talents.
My earliest memories of "records" and "music" and "music lessons" date from our years at 1558 33rd Avenue in San Francisco. I recall my father bringing home records he couldn't wait to play -- 78s and LPs of classical music and occasionally jazz. And at Christmas he would fuss over making home recordings.
The 1948 record was probably cut for Christmas shortly after we moved into the 33rd Avenue home. Mary Ellen would turn 4 in January 1949, Jerry had turned 6 in September 1948, and I would turn 8 in March 1949. By mid 1949, Grandpa and Grandma were living with us in the 33rd Avenue home, and Grandpa died there that August. The record was apparently sent to Idaho, and later brought or sent back to us, either when we were still in San Francisco, or after our move to Grass Valley in 1955.
The disc titled "Billy at the Piano" is an undated 10-inch National Hollywood Disc. It contains about 3-1/2 minutes of piano noise per side at 78 (or 45) rpm -- "Golden Moments Forever Recorded" according to the blurbs on the label and protective sleeve. The sleeve also claims that National Hollywood needles "Cut for Keeps".
In the early 1940s, Billy and possibly Jerry were infant actors in an elusive, probably lost, 8mm home movie made by Faye and Howard Rebenstorf, either in California or in Idaho.
Digitization of cassette tapes
In 2013, I began digitizing all of the tapes using Audacity, an audio editor, with a plug-in called Lame. Both applications are freeware, easily and safely downloaded, installed, and operated. All one needs is an audio cable with standard mini stereo plugs at either end, to connect the headphone output of a tape recorder to the line input (or, alternatively, microphone input) of a computer.
Audacity creates proprietary data files for archival and editing purposes. One can export native Audacity data as "wav" among other (but not "mp3") formatted audio files. Lame permits Audacity to export its data as "mg3" files, which are of a lower audio quality but are more than adequate for voice, and are relatively light on memory.
Most of the cassette tapes played with no difficulty. A few required repair or replacement of a loose or lost pressure pad. Only two tapes broke and needed splicing. One broke several times, due to repeated binding in the case, until I mounted it in a new case that permitted freer winding.
1973 tape letter from Orene Wetherall to Maxine Jones
In March 1973, my mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall, recorded a tape letter for her 1st cousin, Maxine (Keene) Jones, the daughter of Eva (Hunter) Keene, the 2nd younger sister of Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, Orene's mother.
Most of the letter consists of Orene's monologue to Maxine. Theo (Thomas) Vincent, Orene's and Maxine's younger 1st cousin once removed, makes the second most significant appearance on the tape. But Orene's daughter Mary Ellen, grandson Gabriel, and daughter-in-law Etsuko, and Theo's husband Wilton, also say a few words to Maxine or can be heard in the background.
The letter covers many subjects, most urgently the death of Burton Lyle Hunter, Ullie's and Eva's youngest brother, who had shot himself in February, Eva's condition after a severe heart attack and stroke, and Ullie's need for assistance in living.
The tape was returned to Orene by Maxine's daughter, George-Anne (Jones) Kintzley (1941-2017) after Maxine's death in 2001. Orene gave the tape to this writer, her son William O. Wetherall, George-Anne's 2nd cousin, during his spring visit to Grass Valley in 2002, to add to his collection of family history tapes.
1973-03 Tape letter to Maxine A. 30 minutes (30 min side of 60 min tape) a. 2 March (Friday) -- Grass Valley (Orene) b. 3 March (Saturday) -- Grass Valley (Orene) c. 3 March (Saturday) -- Sebastapol (ME and Gabriel) B. 30 minutes (30 min side of 60 min tape) c. 3 March (Saturday) -- Sebastapol (ME and Gabriel) d. 4 March (Sunday) -- Berkeley
1973 Chinatown dinner tape
In September 1973, Faye M. (Williams) (Mathews) Rebenstorf (1906-1995), my father's closest maternal 1st cousin, visited my parents, Bill and Orene Wetherall, in Grass Valley, California after flying down from Idaho to attend a large convention of some sort in San Francisco. I was then going to graduate school in Berkeley, and managing the apartment building where I lived with my then wife Etsuko. My brother, Jerry Wetherall, who was then also in Grass Valley about to leave for a new job in Honolulu, came down to the city with our parents to see Faye. He and our parents visited my sister and a couple of my mother's relatives in the Bay Area area before taking Faye up to Grass Valley, after the conference, for a couple of days visit before she flew home.
On the evening of Wednesday, 5 September 1973, we took Faye to Chinatown in San Francisco, and we had family feast in a booth at a Cantonese restaurant where the Wetherall family had eaten before. Chinatown and Chinese food was new to Faye, but not to us.
My mother, in particular, had a long and continuing history of friendships with a number of Chinese American families. Her own parents were friends with an Idaho Chinese American family that had once ran a restaurant in Lewiston. My mother also had a Chinese American friend in San Francisco, and my parents had sometimes dined with her family in Chinatown. Ullie Hardman, my maternal grandmother, then living in Lewiston, also loved going to Chinatown when visiting us in San Francisco. And by then my mother had become friends with a Chinese American woman in Grass Valley. She and her husband, a real estate broker, were from local families whose roots went back to the Goldrush period.
In any event, Faye had packed a tape recorder to tape events at the convention, and she brought the recorder to the restaurant and taped an hour of family conversation over dinner. Most of the conversation is audible despite the the din and cacophony of a restaurant packed with diners all trying be a heard above the background noise.
Faye's daughter, Marilyn (Rebenstorf) Disrud (1934-2013), sent the tape to my parents after Faye died in 1995, and my mother added it to our collection of recordings.
The label (in "quotation marks") is in Faye's hand.
1973-09-05 Chinatown restaurant Conversations with Faye A. 30 minutes (30 min side of 60 min tape) "Side # 1 / Wetherall Family / China town 9-3-73" B. 30 minutes (30 min side of 60 min tape) "Side # 2 / Wetherall Family / China town 9-3-73 / Bill, Orene, Jerry, Billie, Itsuko" [sic = Billy, Etsuko]
1973 Idaho tapes
I recorded 10 cassette tapes of family conversation during our 23-25 December 1973 Christmas reunion in Idaho. The most of the tapes were recorded at our motel in Lewiston, but some were made at homes of relatives in Peck, Lewiston, and Clarkston.
1973-12-23 Lewiston motel Conversations at motel 1. 1. 2000-2030 Grandma, Almeda (30 min side of 60 min tape) 2. 2030-2100 Grandma, Almeda (30 min side of 60 min tape) 2. 3. 2100-2130 Grandma, Almeda (30 min side of 60 min tape) 4. 2130-2200 Grandma, Almeda (30 min side of 60 min tape) 1973-12-24 Lewiston motel Conversations at motel 3. 5. 1100-1130 Grandma (30 min side of 60 min tape) 6. 1130-1200 Grandma (30 min side of 60 min tape) 4. 7. 1200-1300 Grandma (60 min side of 120 min tape) 8. 000 (1300) Grandma (60 min side of 120 min tape) 1973-12-24 Peck (Continuation from Tape 10) 178 (1530) Viola 298 (1545) Ruth Maynard 1973-12-25 Clarkston (Continuation from Tape 20) 576 Dinner at Almeda's (Last recorded conversations) 1973-12-24 Peck Conversations at Peck 5. 9. 1500-1515 Viola Wells (15 min side of 30-min tape) 10. 1515-1530 Viola Wells (15 min side of 30-min tape) (Continued on Tape 8) 1973-12-24 Lewiston Christmas Eve Christmas dinner at Ella's 6. 11. 1730-1830 (60 min side of 120 min tape) 12. 1830-1930 (60 min side of 120 min tape) 7. 13. 1930-2030 (60 min side of 120 min tape) 14. 2030-2130 (60 min side of 120 min tape) 1973-12-25 Lewiston Christmas Breakfast conversations at motel 8. 15. 1000-1100 Grandma (60 min side of 120 min tape) 16. 1100-1200 Grandma, Faye (60 min side of 120 min tape) 9. 17. 1200-1300 Grandma, Faye, Babe (60 min side of 120 min tape) 18. 1300-1400 Grandma, Faye, Babe (60 min side of 120 min tape) 1973-12-25 Clarkston Christmas Christmas dinner at Almeda's 10. 19. 1700 Dinner at Almeda's (60 min side of 120 min tape) 20. 1800 Dinner at Almeda's (60 min side of 120 min tape) 38 Break Presentation of record is missing (60 min side of 120 min tape) 90 Break Grandma's KANPAI is missing (60 min side of 120 min tape) (Continued on Tape 8)
Grandma refers to Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, maternal grandmother of Wetherall-Hardman children. Ullie, who was living in Lewiston at the time, was the oldest of the 9 Hunter siblings, of whom only two others then survived, her 3rd younger sister, Viola (Hunter) (McGee) Wells, and her youngest sister, Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby.
Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby of Clarkston, Washington, was Ullie's youngest sister.
Viola (Hunter) (McGee) Wells of Peck, Idaho, was Ullie's 3rd younger sister.
Ella (Coon) Hunter of Lewiston was Orval Hunter's widow. Orval, Ullie's 3rd younger brother, had died in 1970.
Ruth (Shortlidge) Maynard, who was born in Peck, married Louie Hunter, Ullie's 2nd younger brother, then married Gwen Maynard of Peck after Louie died in 1943. The Shortlidges, who had lived on Central Ridge, were also close to the Hardmans.
Faye M. (Williams) (Matthews) Rebenstorf, my father's 1st cousin, drove down to Lewiston from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, with her daughter Marilyn Disrud and Marilyn's husband Norman and their son Todd.
Babe refers to Ullie Adeline (Hardman) (Dammarell) Emerson, Ullie's older daughter, my mother's older sister, hence "Aunt Babe" to me and my siblings.
1977 Idaho tapes
I recorded two more tapes during my last visit to Idaho, with just my mother, in September 1977.
1977 Lewiston Orchards Nursing Home Conversations with Grandma 11. 21. 1977-09-20 1200-1230 (30 min side of 60-min tape) 22. 1977-09-20 1230-1300 (30 min side of 60-min tape) 12. 23. 1977-09-21 1730-1750 (30 min side of 60-min tape) 24. 1977-09-23 0840-0920 (30 min side of 60-min tape)
1978 Idaho visit
The following year, my mother went to Idaho by herself, and during her stay she recorded the following tape, which she labeled simply "Mama" as she called her mother, Ullie (Hunter) Hardman.
Tape recorded Orene Wetherall in 1978
1978 Lewiston Orchards Nursing Home Conversations with Mama 13. 25. June 1978 (30 min side of 60 min tape) 26. June 1978 (30 min side of 60 min tape)
I am not the only descendant of my recent ancestral families. But not all descendants are interested in family history. And not all interested descendants are equally blessed with credible sources of information about their common ancestors.
In my own family as in most others it seems, photos get closeted boxes without a lot of organization. Few photos are identified. Most are separated from their negatives, which are likely to be thrown away when someone dies and survivors do a triage on the person's belongings.
Family records and photographs get split up between heirs or discarded. Fewer stories survive, and those that survive change with each telling.
I organized our family photographs in two stages. My mother was my primary informant in both sorting projects.
In the 1970s, I roughly sorted prints and negatives by person, group, theme, and date into numerous Berliner & Wetherall, Law Offices manila envelopes. I salvaged the envelopes, which were slightly larger than ordinary business envelopes, from the stationery left over when Harold became a full-time DA and my father bought out his interest in their law firm.
In the late 1990s, I resorted everything I had earlier sorted, and most of what I had left unsorted, into a couple of dozen loose-leaf file folders, which were divided between two large plastic boxes with coasters, one for my father and mother and their ancestors, and the other for the Wetherall-Hardman family. Numerous unsorted negatives, some in their original developing envelopes, and stacks of partly sorted and unsorted color photographs, mostly of recent vintage, were consolidated in a corrugated paper box.
I worked even more closely with my mother in the second sorting project, during which I queried her about most of the pictures from her side of the family, which constitute the bulk of the ancestral photographs in the Wetherall-Hardman Family Collection. I compiled notes, some written in pencil on the backs of photographs, others typed directly into the text file I created in preparation for scanning the photographs.
In 2010, when visiting Grass Valley, I scanned selected photographs from my mother's side. In 2011, when again in Grass Valley, for my father's 100th birthday, I scanned a few photographs from his side of the family, while picking his brain to identify the photographs and reveal what he remembered about the people in them.
My mother was a much more sympathetic informant. For years, my father showed no interest in family history and frowned on the enormous amount of time I was spending on the sorting and note taking. After my mother died, however, he deeply appreciated how I had organized the photographs of her and his family, and of their courtship and our family, chronologically and thematically.
My father migrated from a standard Kodak 120 box camera to a 35mm Pentax, which I bought him in the late 1960s. The Pentax required manual adjustments he never practiced enough to master. We learned to be patient while he played with the focus, speed, and aperture settings. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he went through a mercifully brief phase of taking transparencies, as I did. But he outdid me with the purchase of a slide projector, screen, and cassettes for organizing slide shows. Most of the few slides he took remain in the cassettes.
Unfortunately, by 2011, my father's health was such that it was difficult to grill him in the way I had grilled my mother about the photographs related to him and other details about his family history. And he himself was having trouble recalling the sort of details that, a decade earlier, he would have more easily remembered.
Wetherall family keepsakes, mementos, and heirlooms are pictured and described on the Wetherall keepsakes page.
A person's history is somehow incomplete without knowing at least where and to whom the person was born, and how and where the person died and is buried. However, burial conditions vary considerably with place, time and family. Not a few graves are lost because their markers vanish, or the grave sites are abandoned, forgotten, and overwhelmed by the elements. And for a variety of reasons, some people are buried in an unmarked grave, or in a grave marked as that of simply an "Infant".
The ashes of people who are cremated are generally stored in an urn, which is then interred or placed in a crypt in a cemetery, or be enshrined in a columbarium. Some urns are placed in closets and forgotten.
Today, more families are choosing to scatter ashes rather than inter or otherwise preserve the relics of their deceased members. The disposal of all human remains, including ashes, is generally regulated by laws and ordinances. When it comes to scattering, though, many people ignore the legal formalities, with the result that there may be no record of when or where someone's ashes were scattered.
Cemeteries maintain records which document who and where someone is buried in the graveyard. Their records usually contain more information than is shown on tombstones. Rural areas are full of small burial sites that are no longer being used or routinely cared for, if cared for at all. Their registers, if they had any, may or may not survive in the home of a former caretaker, or in local historical society archives or private collections.
Thousands of genealogy enthusiasts are photographing headstones and other monuments and documenting their inscriptions. And there is considerable interest today in restoring abandoned cemeteries and publishing inventories of their known interments.
WPA Graves Survey data
Today, practically all work to create and publicize lists of who is buried where is being done by volunteers without the support of public funds. During the 1930s, however, the United States Government subsidized surveys of some local cemeteries under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration. WPA was established on 6 May 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Executive Order No. 7034) to help relieve unemployment during the depression years.
Many states took advantage of the availability of federal funds to organize projects that put people to work conducting research and compiling data of historical interest, including studies of graveyards. States differed in how they availed themselves of WPA funding, and not all counties within states that conducted graves surveys participated, and so the completeness and quality of WPA graves survey data considerably varies with the locality.
In Iowa, WPA workers are said to have used court records and newspaper obituaries, in addition to or in lieu of on-site inspection of cemetery records and burials. There is some indication that an emphasis was placed on documenting the tombs of war veterans, with the result that many known burials were simply ignored.
Searchable on-line databases containing information from WPA records consist of transcriptions of typed data that may be difficult to read. And transcribers are as apt as the original WPA workers to compound errors in the spellings of names and representations of other particulars found in the original records.
The important thing to remember when examining official death certificates -- or county death rolls, obituaries, war veteran headstone applications, and other such records -- is that a person is not necessarily buried in the counties where they died, or their deaths were recorded, or where an obituary states that a funeral was held.
Publications old and new, whether printed as bound books or produced only in electronic forms, by commercial or vanity publishers, are important sources of information of the kind that is essentially to the writing of family histories. The most important such publications are families histories and local histories with biographical articles.
Empire of Cousins
I have liberally cited the following book, which includes a number of stories about the Hardman family. Babe (Hardman) Emerson, but also her sister Bug (Hardman) Wetherall (my mother), contributed stories and a few photographs, as their father Owen Hardman's mother, Lucy , was a daughter of the progenitor of the empire of Gallaher cousins.
Empire of Cousins, or The Gallaher Trail
No history, though, writes itself. Research and writing require motivation, motivation needs inspiration, and inspiration -- while personally nurtured -- often originates interpersonally.
Two people in particular fired my interest in family history -- first and foremost my maternal grandmother, Ullie Hardman. She was the original historian of the Hunter-Thomas and related families, and her enthusiasm rubbed off on me in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when she began sharing some of her handwritten notes on family history with my mother and a few other relatives.
The other person who most nurtured my efforts was John A. Phelan, whose path I first crossed in 1955, shortly after the Wetherall-Hardman family moved from San Francisco to Grass Valley in the foothills of California's Mother Lode. John and I shared a number of interests in high school, including the building of oscilloscopes, which fueled our dreams of becoming electrical engineers. John became one, I didn't.
John, who was born into an older local family, began to reflect on his family's Goldrush history when in his teens. During his 20s, out of college and with a little more time to invest in hobbies, which included rebuilding a Model A, he started photographing some of his older family pictures with a copy stand. By the end of the 1960s and early 1970s, he was pursuing his family's lines of descent across the United States, and across the Atlantic, and three decades later he published the following book about its saga.
John A. Phelan
John's book is a model of organization, writing, and presentation. Its uncluttered layout, its balance of description, stories and photographs, and its variety of supporting materials, including hand-colored pull-out maps and a glossary, make for fascinating reading. The Golding book on the Gallaher clan, though crammed with genealogical information and stories, is not nearly as comprehensive, or as accessible and entertaining.
Lee and Thomas Family History Album
Yet another book of interest is a photographic history of the Lee and Thomas families in Idaho by a 3rd cousin on my mother's side.
Tom and Niki Lee
This book consists mainly of images with captions and an occasional sidebar. Most of the images are black-and-white photographs. Some of the earlier pictures were taken by Anton Lee, who was Anton Lien when he left Norway in 1898 at age 22. There are also a few scans of public records and other documents, including Anton's ticket for passage from Norway, Europa to Moscow, Idaho, and the Dominion Line manifest of immigrant aliens on which Anton is listed as a passenger.
Anton arrived in Idaho by way of England and Canada, and by 1909 he had set up a studio as a photographer and optician on the second floor of the home he had built on the main street of Deary, a logging town in Latah County between Moscow and Lewiston. A playful composite photographic he himself made shows him standing beside a beside a camera while pointing to a man -- himself -- who is posing in front of the camera. The caption explains that "Anton changed his last name by telling the postmaster that he henceforth would be Lee instead of Lien. He did this shortly after arriving in Idaho as there were many Liens in the area and he didn't like his mail getting mixed up" (page 9).
Tom Lee and I share a pair of great great grandparents, which makes us 3rd cousins. My mother and his mother were second cousins, but his mother was young enough to be a student of my mother in a one-room, one-teacher elementary school. There's a picture of my mother in their family collection, and that is how I, in Japan, crossed paths with Tom's wife, who wears the family's history pants in cyberspace. My grandmother -- even my mother -- would shake their head in wonderment.
The Thomas Family
A folder-bound history of the extended Thomas family has also been a source of information as well as an example of organization.
Robert C. and Ruth Thomas
The most important part of this collection of materials on the Thomas family is the typescript article appended at the end by my 1st cousin twice removed -- Elanor Theodosia Thomas Vincent (Theo) -- who was very close my family, a first cousin of my maternal grandmother, a first cousin once removed of my mother, but more like a sister to my mother and an aunt to the Wetherall children. This is the only signed and dated item in the folder, copies of which were circulated within the extended Thomas Family, include Tom and Niki Lee (see above publication).
Theo and her husband, Wilton Vincent, did a lot of traveling around the United States. Both, as dedicated family history researchers, made it a point to scout out and visit as many relatives as they could en route, to pull together vital genealogical data as well as stories. And both were super cautious in what they were accepted as "truth" in story telling.
Moreover, both Theo and Wilton were excellent writers, which makes their accounts on otherwise droll subjects come alive. See Theo's "Thomas Lore" on "Hunter-Thomas" family page for a complete transcription of Theo's article.
My own approach
I have adopted a somewhat different and less orthodox manner to present the history of the Wetherall-Hardman family -- partly to accommodate web presentation -- and partly to compensate for my inability, this late in my life, to do the sort of legwork both writers of the above histories have done to gather material from their relatives and other sources.
Unlike the Goldings and John, I waited too long. All my ancestors are gone, my own health is ebbing, and access to family photographs and other detritus, much of it in storage at my sister's home in Grass Valley, has become difficult.
Family histories are not truly "histories" until the lives of family members are reconstructed in their places and times. Local and regional histories are invaluable as sources of information about the the places and times, and many such histories are also full biographical information about contemporary individuals and families.
Local histories in the United States came into their own at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when people were celebrating the end of a century of American expansion and the admission to the Union of all but the eastern states. Numerous regional histories were compiled and published by energetic researchers and writers who wished to capture the spirit of the century in stories about local settlement and development.
Many of these local histories include -- and some consist mainly of -- biographical sketches of people the compilers wished to credit for having contributed to the growth and prosperity of the region. I suspect many people were included because they contributed to the book by submitting to interviews.
The following publication contains valuable biographical profiles of two Wetherall-Hardman ancestral family members -- Albert Christopher Hardman, a maternal great grandfather, the father of my maternal grandfather and namesake, Owen (Monroe) Hardman -- and John Wesley Thomas, my maternal great grandmother's brother, who was "Uncle Wes" to both his niece, Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, and his grand niece, my mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall.
John M. Henderson, William S. Shiach, and Barry F. Averill
The particularly nice copy shown to the right is available from Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers, an ABAA-affiliated antiquarian book dealer in Seattle, Washington. A copy from the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley can be read on-line at Archive.org.
The book measures over 9-1/2 wide by 12 inches tall, which is characteristic of the quarto (4to) format. It was manufactured by printing 8 pages of text on a single sheet of paper, 4 pages to a side, then folding the paper twice to produce 4 leaves or 8 book pages.
Its elaborate binding was typical of contemporary publications of its size and type. Wessel & Lieberman describes its copy as having the "Original full morocco binding, covers stamped with decorative borders in blind, title in gilt on upper cover, spine gilt, and all edges gilt" and "marbled endsheets". Another bookstore describes its copy as having a "Full-leather binding with tooled designs on covers, gilt text and intricate gilt botanical motif along interior edges of boards. All edges gilt."
The following publication includes a biographical profile of a Captain William Hall, which links his daughter Mary Hall with a William Wetherell in Iowa. Mary Hall, born in Fayette County, and William Edwin Wetherall, born in Maryland, educated in Pennsylvania, and married in Fayette County, were my paternal great great grandparents.
John W. Jordan and James Hadden
This Pennsylvania history, though every bit as massive as the Idaho history, was bound in three thinner volumes with continuing page numbers. They, too, are quarto printings, are of the shorter 10-3/4-inch size.
RT Books, an antiquarian book dealer in Pennsylvania, which offers the 3-volume set shown to the right through AbeBooks.com, describes the volumes as "hardbound in 3/4 black leather and black cloth covered boards with raised hubs and gold lettering on spines, top end pages gilt and other end pages and end papers marbled."
There are a number of facsimile editions, and the book is now widely available in POD editions, as well as in digital scans of library holdings of the original edition.
"Who's who" in history
Local histories like these are valuable sources of information, such as it was then gathered, collated, and published with considerable labor, presumably care -- and, I would imagine, also cost. The economics of their production defies an attempt to regard them as commodities in the same category as, say, popular novels and belles-lettres.
They were, however, commodities. Who, though, would have bought them?
Mainly libraries -- including smaller local and regional libraries, but also larger libraries in other parts of the country -- which customarily pride themselves in their reference and bibliography collections. Reference books are generally more expensive than general publications. Today, many academic books are also published in limited quantities aimed at specialists and research libraries willing to pay higher per/copy prices.
Religious families might invest in a sturdy high-quality quarto-size Bible, which were more affordable because Bibles were perennial bestsellers, meaning that publishers could print more copies at lower per/copy costs. But given the general apathy toward history, and the general avoidance of the written word, why would a family, or an individual, buy a book crammed with 1,000 pages of dry description of by-gone days? The only reason I can think of -- other than out of pure interest in local history -- would have been because someone in the family, if not the purchaser, was a subject of one of the biographical profiles.
Did the publishers of the above local histories hope to regain part of their investment by selling copies to the individuals, or to the families of the individuals, whose stories were included in the books? Probably not.
In this sense, the "business model" of the massive turn-of-the-century histories differed from that of many "who's who" publications today -- which bank on the vanity of people who will buy copies of a book which includes them, or a family member, among the dignitaries of a certain place or field. Some present-day "who's who" publishers require that "selected" candidates pay a processing fee or buy a copy in advance if they wish their biography to be included.
Central Ridge pioneers
The Idaho and Pennsylvania volumes were akin to "who's who" compendia in the guise of local histories. Local histories they were -- but of the self-congratulatory kind that celebrated the achievements of the people who had settled in the territories and carved their towns and industries out of the "wild land" that, for the most part, had been taken from Indians in the course of displacing them from their tribal lands.
I imagine the compilers of the North Idaho volume, for example, were assisted by field workers who traveled around the concerned counties and interviewed officials, educators, churchmen, businessmen, manufacturers, merchants, farmers, and other locals who were ready, willing, and able to testify as witnesses of recent history. And the sort of history that most concerned the compilers was truly recent.
Unlike Pennsylvania -- which had a 250-year history as one of the original colonies, forged from Dutch, Swedish, and English settlements, was one of the original Union States and in many ways had been the womb of the Union -- Idaho had been a territory for barely 40 years (1860) and a state for only 13 (1890). The Nez Perce War of 1877 was still fresh in the memories of older people, on and off the Nez Perce reservation at Fort Lapwai. And my ancestors didn't arrive until the mid and late 1890s, when Nez Perce reservation lands on Central Ridge in Nez Perce County were opened for homesteading.
For this reason -- and for this reason alone -- my ancestral great grandfather Albert C. Hardman, and my great grand uncle John W. Thomas, were included as representative Central Ridge pioneers -- as were other members who figured in the lives of my Idaho relatives, including the Shortlidge, McGee, and Rogers families of Central Ridge and Peck.
Did Albert Hardman or John Thomas, or their families, buy a copy? Not to my knowledge. They probably never saw a copy. Presumably there was a copy in the Lewiston Public Library that my grandmother used when researching the history of her Hunter and Thomas lines in the 1960s. But there is no evidence in her notes that she saw or consulted it, and she never referred to it in any of her conversations with me. I discovered it through The Empire of Cousins (see above), in which the Goldings cite its remarks about Albert C. Hardman.
In compiling this history of the Wetherall-Hardman family and related unions, lines, and individuals, I have made abundant use of the usual variety of "public records" in the broadest sense of this term. As I define it here, "public records' refers to all documents and publications that, in principle, are available to the public -- whether or not they are official, and whether or not they are easily or unconditionally available to the general public.
Information about individuals and families can be found in all manner of records -- including birth, death, marriage, and divorce records -- but also city directories and school yearbooks, passenger manifests, military draft and enlistment records, tax rolls, grave registers, and publications such as newspapers and biographies -- to name just a few of the more obvious sources.
The availability of official records concerning vital matters such as birth and death, and marriage and divorce, varies considerably from one government jurisdiction to another. The quality of such records -- the kind, amount, and accuracy of the recorded information -- also varies with place and time.
Simply because a record is "official" or "certified" does not mean that spellings, dates, and other particulars are correct. A number of records obtained for members of the extended Wetherall-Hardman family have spelling and other errors, some more than one.
City directories, when available, make excellent places to discover where someone lived at a certain time, especially between census years. Some early directories were rich in detail other than just street addresses. Occupations, places of work, names of schools, whether the residence is owned or rented, and even its value, and the name of a man's wife, can sometimes be found.
The availability of annual or semi-annual city directories in the case of the Balwin-Steele and Wetherall-Van Houton families, for example, show multiple changes of residence and jobs in the span of just a few years between, or before and after, national censuses in the early 20th century.
School yearbooks can also be useful in confirming where someone might have attended school at a certain time. Yearbooks can also serve to verify the extent or quality of a person's completed education.
College yearbooks from the early 1850s qualify the nature William Edwin Wetherall's formal education somewhat differently than his obituaries in the early 1910s.
Most newspapers publish obituaries and other death notifications. Obituaries are known to misrepresent the deceased's life and family. Hastily prepared and edited obituaries are susceptible to the usual variety of careless errors. Examples abound in the obituaries of some members and relatives of the Wetherall-Hardman family.
The social pages of some local papers carry marriage and birth announcements, and some run legal notices related to litigation, including divorce. One such notice turned the received story about a certain Wetherall-Hardman aunt's divorce 180 degrees.
Numerous genealogy websites offer genealogy and family history services and aids, including access to large databases of images or digests of all manner of public and private records and materials that have been made available for scanning and/or transcription. I have made liberal use of Ancestry.com and affiliated websites, for a monthly fee that is worthwhile given the intensity of my research.
Having so much material so easily available creates the problem of what to make of and do with it all. Evaluation comes before utilization. Scans need to be read -- writing, typing, printing deciphered, sense made of abbreviations -- everything faithfully transcribed as received. A transcription accompanying a scan needs to be vetted and corrected against the scan. On-line transcriptions abound in errors created through misreading or editing, and one must guard against making similar errors in one's own transcriptions of original or scanned documents.
Information is useful only if a place can be found in a list, chart, narrative, or other kind of story. Some stories will inevitably include conflicts in information. While conflicts need to be resolved, possible resolutions include the acceptance of different forms or spellings of a person's names, or of variations of dates or places of birth or death, et cetera, as plausible. Not everything can be known with equal certainty.
The most important attitude toward any information -- whether discovered on-line or in an original document that has been handed down in one's family for generations, or heard from a personal informant -- is skepticism. All information -- true or false, accurate (which may be false) or erroneous (which may be true) -- is factual. In other words, all variations, all conflicts, are facts. What you think about a fact is your opinion. Skepticism is less about doubting than about being careful, watchful, alert. The Internet is a veritable jungle of misinformation resulting from lack of due vigilance.
Consuming on-line genealogical information requires the same caution as when buying any commodity -- Caveat emptor.
National censuses are also enumerated by state, but some states have conducted their own full or partial censuses.
National censuses have been taken in the United States every 10 years since 1790. By law they are open to public examination after 70 years, hence 1940 is the latest available census. Enumeration standards have changed over the decades, and earlier censuses were not complete.
The "as of dates" of "datums" of censuses have varied as follows.
Datum dates of US decennial censuses, 1790 to present
1st-4th 1790-1820 1st Monday in August 5th-10th 1830-1880 1 June (Datum 31 May) 11th 1890 2 June 12th 1900 1 June 13th 1910 15 April 14th 1920 1 January From 15th 1930- 1 April
The datum date in principle determined a person's qualification for inclusion in the census as well as the person's age. Say that, in 1920, the population of a certain locality was enumerated on 12 January. Since the datum of the census was 1 January, someone born on 2 January, or who was living somewhere else on 1 January, should not have been counted. And a person born on 7 January 1910 would have been considered 9 rather 10 years old, based on their last birthday before the datum.
In addition to national censuses every 10 years, a few states have carried out full or partial censuses between the national censuses. Iowa, for example, conducted its own censuses in the following years.
Datum dates of Iowa state censuses, 1856-1925
1856 80 of 81 organized counties (community sheets) 1885 All 99 counties (community sheets) 1895 1905 All 99 counties (individual cards) 1915 All 99 counties (individual cards) 1925 All 99 counties (community sheets)
Iowa stands out as a very pro-census state. The nativity data on its 1925 census includes not only the places of birth but the names of a person's parents and where they were married.
Personal information and other census data
Enumeration standards evolved as quickly as the growing and spreading nation, and each census has been from slightly to radically different that earlier censuses. There are, however, some notable trends in the kinds of personal information and other data collected by census takers.
The censuses from 1790 to 1840 are valuable for many purposes, but they centered on information about households rather than about their individuals. They enumerated the name of the head of each household, but little personal information about the head. Other household members are reflected only as tallies broken down by sex and age-group within status categories like free whites, slaves, free colored people, and non-taxed Indians.
The status and age-group breakdowns become increasingly detailed. To the extent they characterize each household, they sometimes allow one to speculate as to whether the household in one census is the same as the household in a later household.
From 1850, censuses began list individuals within households, and provide information about each individual. From this point, censuses become valuable as sources of information on individuals. It also becomes easier to differentiate households with heads having similar names.
The 1850 and 1860 censuses show the name of the head of each household, followed by the name of each member of the household, and the sex, age, and color (white, black, mulatto), of each free inhabitant, plus columns for other information about each member, including whether the person was deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper, or a convict. These two censuses had separate slave schedules, which had columns for writing the name of the slave owner, and the age, sex, and color (but not the name) of each slave, and whether the slave had become a fugitive from the state, or had been manumitted, or was deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic.
Since 1870, following the emancipation of slaves after the Civil War of the 1860s, censuses have included all people by name, showing their sex, age, and color (white, black, mulatto, Chinese, Indian). The color classification on the 1890 census included white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian. However, practically all of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire, hence its data is unavailable.
Knowing a person's "nativity" -- where the person was born -- is a very valuable piece of information. But knowing also the nativity of a person's parents can help differentiate people with similar names and otherwise similar identities. The 1880 census began showing nativity breakdowns by the places of birth of the person, and of the person's mother and father.
Censuses from 1900 had a column for "Color or race". While earlier "color" categories are also clearly racial, the "racialization" of people began to embrace also "national origin" within broader skin-color classifications -- such as "Chinese" in the 1860 and 1870 censuses, and "Japanese" in the 1890 census.
The 1930 and 1940 censuses, following several earlier censuses, had supplementary schedules for the American Indian population, defined as Indians enrolled as members of federally recognized tribes. Indians on these separate schedules were classified by sex, age, and whether they were "full blood or mixed blood". This is partly due to the declaration by the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act that all therebefore non-citizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States were thereafter citizens of the United States.
Non-citizen Indians, who were not taxed, usually lived on reservations, where they were formally affiliated with a tribe and were subject to its jurisdiction. Citizen Indians lived in, and were regarded as part of, the general population, and were subject to the same treatment as other citizens, including taxation. However, an increasing number of non-citizen Indians had moved off their reservation and were living in the general population.
Reliability of census data
Census data is subject to all manner errors, especially spelling errors. Census enumerators often spelled names the way they sounded to their ear, without confirming their spellings with the family informant -- assuming informant knew the spellings.
Place of birth, and places of birth of parents, are subject to misreporting and misrecording. Informants relied on memory, including memory of hearsay information, and there are cases when memory and hearsay information changes from census to census.
Sex, age, marital status, and race are also subject to erroneous reporting or recording. Reliability is limited by the nature of the classification.
Sex, age, and marital status
Sex, allowing for the lack of categories for rare cases of people who weren't unequivocally either male or female, was perhaps the easiest trait to accurately classify. Age was subject to errors of memory and calculation, but the effects of such errors on age-group breakdowns is negligible. Marital status was accurate to the extent that people didn't lie about their status -- such as by claiming they were married, single, or widowed, rather than admit they were divorced. All census reports I have seen on my own ancestral relatives, however, suggests that people frankly disclosed their actual status.
Race -- despite attempts by race scientists to objectively define racial classifications -- was subject to extremely impressionistic judgments, especially for persons whose features allowed them, or the enumerator, a degree of freedom in choice of classification. This was especially the case for putatively "mixed" persons, but some people who did not think of themselves as "mixed" -- such as an "Chinese" or "White" -- might also be misclassified.
Changes in racial classifications on United States censuses tell the history of the official racialization of the country, from its establishment on the foundations of slavery, to the shackles of federal race boxes today.
The information in the following table is based mainly on direct examination of censuses from 1810-1940 (except 1890, which was destroyed in a fire), and the following publication, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Census Bureau (1902-2002), formerly the Census Office.
Measuring America 2002
Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000
Also of interest are the following publications.
Indian Affairs Report 1876
Commissioner for Indian Affairs, Office of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior
Hochschild and Powell 2008
Jennifer L. Hochschild and Brenna M. Powell
The following website has images of census forms and scans of enumerator instructions for all United States censuses from 1850 to 2010.
Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS)
History as evaluation
Investigating a family's past is to enter a labyrinth of branching trails with loops and spurs that sometimes cross or simply dead-end as they cut, turn, wind, and twist through the terrain of fact and opinion. Both facts and opinions are subject to tests of proof of correctness, but correctness may prove to be an illusion.
A name on a census report is a fact. How it is spelled is a fact. The qualities of sex, race, age, and marital status and so forth are also facts. But they are not necessarily factual. They are simply facts on record -- true only to the extent that the records haven't been cooked or doctored -- and meaningful only in the their social contexts.
Two different spellings of the name of presumably the same person on different census reports or other documents are both facts. If only one of the spellings can be right, then the other is wrong. Or so one might think. But both spellings might be correct in their own time -- one at the time of birth, say, and the other at the time of death. Or both might prove to be incorrect if a third variation is found on both the birth and death certificates and on other significant legal records.
"History" is generally regarded as an examination and analysis of the past based on written records. "Pre-history" deals with periods of time before written records are available.
Though history is essentially what is written, what is written is usually based on what someone somewhere, sometime long ago or recently, spoke or thought in words. Writing is, after all, merely a graphic representation of language, which is essentially a medium for expressing thought.
Before the development of graphic means of recording information in material form, the past was transmitted into the future orally, relying entirely on personal and collective human memory. Systems of writing slowly evolved for some languages and spread to others, but not everything that happened was chronicled, and the forms and standards of documentation varied with the event.
A few events in a person's life are formally documented in official records but rarely in great detail, and a few events are documented in casual news reports or correspondence, but most events are deemed too trivial to write about. Moreover, official records and personal letters, like everything else, are subject to decay, destruction, and loss. And materials that survive may be inaccessible.
"Oral history" is both an oxymoron and a conundrum. How can "history" -- if written -- be "oral"? Come to think of it, though, whatever is written -- simply because it represents language -- must originally have been "oral" -- if only in the writer's thoughts.
And "oral history" is usually based on a recording, in any material medium, of someone's personal account of themselves or of something they witnessed as bystanders or participants. A tape recording, or a transcription of a recording of grandma's tale of growing up on the farm, would an example of oral history.
My own paraphrasing of what I just heard my grandmother say ten minutes ago about her life is also oral history but would constitute a "secondary" or "reported" or "hearsay" re-telling of her story in my words. My own account of what I remember hearing her tell me half a century ago is subject to the effects of time on my memory.
Whatever I write about whatever my grandmother supposedly said to me becomes "material evidence" in the sense that it is preserved in material form. But it is not evidence of what she said. It is evidence only of what I recalled that she said at the time I wrote my recollections. As "evidence" it substantially differs in quality from, say, a tape recording of my grandmother telling her own story, or notes or letters she wrote. It also differs in quality from my mother's or an aunt's recollections of the same event or matter.
All evidence, though, requires evaluation with respect to its reliability. Competing versions of a story require vetting against, where possible, independent information. If there are no external measures of accuracy, then competing versions need to be vetted against each other in terms of plausibility. And without grounds for ranking versions, all versions may have to be accepted as equally plausible -- pending the discovery of new evidence.
Materials, memory, and hearsay
Family stories about the past are a mixture of material evidence, personal memory, and hearsay. All such sources of information constitute facts. Facts, however, are not necessarily "factual" in the sense of being "accurate" or "truthful" reflections of what "really" happened in the past.
Material evidence and things like a photograph, a census record, or a postcard with a postmark and message. The are facts because they exist.
Whether a photograph is an original, or retouched, damaged, or otherwise altered, will affect its reliability as a representation of its subject. It is possible that a doctored photograph is more representative of the subject because the original may have been distorted in some way, and the doctoring corrected the distortion.
Early census records were created by enumerators who generally went house to house and recorded information about occupants. The recorded information may be an accurate record of what an informant reported to the enumerator. Or the enumerator may have recorded something incorrectly. Even when accurately recorded, the informant's information may have been incorrect. But right or wrong, accurate or inaccurate, whatever is written on a census record is a material fact.
While written symbols constitute "facts" in and of themselves, they become meaningful only when deciphered. Do the scribbled letters represent the family name "Wetherall" or "Witherall" or "Wetherell"? Or "Witcheall" or "Mitcherall" or "Mitchell"? Is the personal name "Wm" or "Jim" or "Tom"? If both "Witherall" and "Wetherall" under the same roof of a household, which is the "correct" name? Or are both, or is neither, correct?
Memory twenty, forty, eighty years after an event is not necessarily less accurate than a contemporary diary entry -- which could well be faulty in ways improved by time. The diary entry might reflect an unwillingness or inability at the time to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Age is known to increase the willingness of people to be ruthlessly honest in matters they were more reluctant to disclose then younger.
Yet age is also known to play tricks on memory, resulting in loss and confusion of detail, as well as in inflation of detail through enlargement or imagination. A date or name might be wrong. Or such details could prove to be right but other details are missing, perhaps forgotten, perhaps never known. And some missing details will be more important than others.
Hearsay is transmission by a third party of information from another party or source. An accurate transmission of information is accurate if the original information is transmitted without distortion. The accuracy of the original information is another matter. Words or other details might change in ways that distort the quality of the original information. Yet a third-party account of a story may turn out to be more accurate than the original story.
A lot of material evidence results from the recording of memory and hearsay. Information recorded on a birth certificate, say, may represent personal memory of hearsay. The memory, and/or the hearsay, may be incorrect. The person filling out the birth report -- whether a member of the family or a physician or nurse or county clerk -- may miswrite information on account of having mislearned or misheard something, or ignorance of a spelling.
Family history -- like political and social history -- may be motivated by a desire to see the past through a particular set of lenses. The lenses through which "national" and "critical" histories are seen are very likely to be ideological. Family historians are prone to romanticize their family's roots along the lines of its most prominent surnames.
Family history is usually motivated by pride in ancestry -- pride in heritage -- pride in representing a continuing succession of human reproduction through unions of unknown and unknown ancestors going back to the beginning of humanity. Family histories often stress "ethnic" roots and ties with famous (or notorious) ancestors. No history is complete without a few colorful adventure stories, the older the better, about life in times past -- years, decades, and centuries ago, when the world was different.
The problem of determining which of two contradictory "facts" is correct is really no different from that of determining whether even a single "fact" is correct. The object of evaluation is not to compare one "fact" with a competing "fact" -- but to subject every "fact" to an independent test of correctness.
How do you resolve which of two possible birth dates is correct if all you have is an date of death and age at time of death? One has to assume that the date of death and age are accurate -- but the age could have been computed only by assuming a date of birth. The age therefore biases the choice of which, if either, of the two birth dates is correct. The problem will remains unsolved without independent evidence in the form of a birth certificate or equivalent document.
"Facts" in stories also need to be checked. A degree of "healthy skepticism" is essential. The most "obvious" facts can prove to be less than factual.
An attempt to corroborate even the most believable story will generally reveal discrepancies. Answers to questions are likely to raise new questions. In the end you have a different story -- if not several plausible different stories -- and lots of unanswered and probably unanswerable questions. In your disillusionment, you may wonder if it wouldn't have easier to simply have accepted Grandpa's tale and let it be.
How, though, does one go about vetting or "fact checking" a story? In other words, how does one know a story is "accurate" or "true"? The two words are not -- to repeat -- equivalent. An "accurate" story is a faithful account of the "facts" of a story. But the "facts" may not be "factual" or "truthful". The story may be partly "true" and partly" false" -- partly based on "actual" happenings and partly based on "imagined" or "fantasized" occurences.
Three birth dates
If your grandmother tells you that your grandfather was born on 1 January 1899, and you later remember that she said 1 January 1899, then your account of her story will be "accurate". If you relate that she said "1 January 1898" then your account will be inaccurate.
But what if you find a birth certificate that says he was born on 1 January 1898? And what if you also find an army enlistment record dated 21 December 1914, that states he was born on 1 January 1887?
All three dates are "facts" in that they represent information apart from the veracity of the information. Presumably, though, only one date is "factual" in the sense of being the "true" or "real" or "actual" date of birth.
Whoever dated the birth certificate might have written "1898" out of habit, as it often takes a few days for the new year to register reflexively. Doubts about the year could be resolved by examining birth ledgers or rolls, which would show a progression of December 1898 to January 1899 entries. Birth notifications may also have a serial number assigned them in the order in which are accepted for processing and filing. A birth certificate issued directly by a hospital at time of birth is not necessarily more reliable than a certificate issued by a county recorder's office based on its records, which may or may not be based on the hospital-issued certificate.
What about the date of birth on the enlistment record? It, too, is a fact, in that the record exists and it clearly and unambiguously states 1 January 1897. It could well be true. The birth may actually have taken place then but not been registered until 1899, and then been registered as having taken place that year.
A more likely possibility, though, is that your grandfather lied about his age when enlisting shortly after the start of the Great War. One could then enlist at 18 without parental consent, and at 16 or 17 with consent. And in all wars, underage applicants determined to serve are known to lie about their age and get away with it. You might even find evidence that the recruiter was known to aid and abet underage enlistees in order to inflate his performance record.
Misinformation at home
Family members unwittingly misrepresent names and dates on official records or other material. Several examples exist in materials related to my own family.
My maternal grandmother's name is spelled "Ullie Mae" rather than "Ullie May" on my mother's death certificate. My father provided the information on the certificate. He either wrote it that because that's how he remembered it at the moment, or he dictated the name to someone who wrote it "Mae" and he simply failed to notice it. Or possibly he wrote "May" and someone typed it "Mae". Ullie herself spelled it "May" in her own notes about family history, and that is the way it is spelled in newspaper articles about her, including her obituary.
My mother died on 9 August but one of the cards distributed at her memorial service, held on 21 August, states that he died on 14 August 2003. Several family members, including yours truly, were involved in the design and editing of the cards. No one noticed it. We were all thinking about other things.
The attending physician signed her death certificate on 11 August, and the earliest certified copies of the death certificate were issued on 12 August. I arrived at the family home in Grass Valley from my home in Japan on 14 August. A couple of days after my arrival, the Neptune Society, which had removed her body from the house shortly after she passed away, delivered her ashes to the house. By that time we were dealing with a very inaccurate obituary in the local paper. It was written by a staff member on the basis of information provided partly by telephone. We went directly to the editor's office and wrote and proofed an entirely new obituary.
My mother's place of birth is spelled "Perk" on my birth certificate, though in fact it was "Peck". A clerk may have misheard it but more likely mistranscribed it.
My father's middle name is "Bascum" on his birth certificate and "Bascum" on his birth announcement cards. That was clearly the intended spelling, for his maternal grandfather's name was Newton Bascum Baldwin, who went by N.B. Or N. Bascum or just Bascum. My father said he himself had always spelled it "Bascom" -- but he had no idea why. The original spelling was never legally changed that he was aware of, but became his legal name as a matter of habitual usage.
His younger sister was supposed to be "Mary Arlene", but the name on her birth certificate was "Mary Arleen", and the family decided to leave it that way.
When in the Army, as a medic assigned to an ambulance company, I distinguished myself by being the top of the class in a two-week course on driving ambulances, and deuce-and-a-halfs with trailers, under field and combat conditions. The name on the fancy certificate said "Pvt. William D. Wetherall". After the ceremony, I told the company commander, a 1st lieutenant, that there had been a mistake -- I'd been given someone else's certificate -- that I was William O., not William D. He told me to keep it until William D. returned the certificate with William O. on it.
So when it comes to names, the "incorrect" spelling may in fact be the "correct" spelling -- or vice versa.
Less mechanical elements of stories are more difficult to confirm. Did your grandpa really distinguish himself in battle? Were his stories about the Eastern Front true?
Or are the stories as remembered by his great-great grandchildren true? Grandpa tells his story a bit differently each time he tells it. The versions passed down to you by your father also change a little with each telling. A few details are lost, some altered, others added. The version your grandchildren hear from you may be very different from the versions you heard from your father.
Family stories are heard, believed, and passed on as the story teller remembers them, in his or her own words, plus or minus a few. Hand-me-down "grandpa stories" are not about grandfathers. They are of, by, and for the family, which thrives on stories about its ancestors, the more interesting and exciting the better. Grandpa himself understood that to get his children and grandchildren to listen to his war stories, he had to make them entertaining. And descendants are motivated to make them increasingly entertaining.
Resolving conflicting reports is more than a matter of determining which of two different reports is the "true" or "truer" report. The "untrue" or "less true" report may be every bit as interesting and meaningful, and in some cases it may be even more significant as part of what I call the "larger" story.
I like to think of "misinformation" -- whether a careless error or malicious lie -- as the "side harmonics" of the "information" that rings with truth. Take the case of my paternal grandfather's death.
William Riley Wetherall's oldest daughter, Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells, of Carlisle, Iowa, related to me, through her daughter-in-law, the circumstances of her father's death in 1936 when she was 14 years old. She said he died and was buried in Knoxville, Iowa, where she reported they were then living.
War Department records show that, in 1938, William R. Wetherall's wife, Nellie M. Wetherall, applied for an upright headstone under a government program that provided headstones for war veterans. The stone was to be delivered to Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville. And a WPA (Works Progress Administration Graves Registration Survey conducted in the late 1930s records that a William R. Wetherall (1890-1936) was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa, and that he had served in the World War. Mary Wells also reported that Nellie herself worked in the Iowa WPA grave registration program, though she did not say in which locality.
The Knoxville WPA graves survey lists a William R. Wetherall who was born on 2 May 1890 and died on 4 July 1936. But the WPA graves survey for Audubon, Iowa, lists a W.R. Wetherall who was born in 1886 and died on 4 July 1936. The Audubon record refers to a 5 July 1936 report in the Des Moines Register as the source of its information.
As early as 1932, William R. Riley was working as a compositor for the Register and Tribune Company, which published both the morning Register and evening Tribune. By no later than 1935, though, he was working as a compositor for the Advocate and Republican, a weekly paper in Audubon, Iowa. And by the time he died, the family had moved from Audubon to Knoxville, which was William R. Wetherall's home town.
Nellie, my father's step-mother, was born and raised in Des Moines, and all four of their children, my father's younger half-siblings, were also born in Des Moines. My father, who was 25 at the time his father died, was born in Ames, Iowa, spent his early childhood in St. Maries, Idaho, then went to grade school in Knoxville and high school in Des Moines. But he was working in Montana at time his father died, didn't go back to Iowa for his funeral, and didn't relate what he had heard of the circumstances of his father's death.
Pending the location and examination of William R. Wetherall's death certificate and his grave site, one has to assume that Mary's recollections are true. At the same time, the conflicting WPA reports in Internet databases created by family history organizations demand explanation. Or -- as I would prefer to say -- Mary's story needs to be enlarged to include the other stories as "side harmonics" -- stories which are also "facts" -- even if not as "true" as her story.
To put it somewhat differently -- just as a symphony orchestra creates beautiful music, not as a sum of discrete instrumental sounds, but as a dynamic interaction between the sounds -- the story of William R. Wetherall's death is larger than the sum of its parts. The minor instruments compliment the major instruments. The quieter sounds deepen the louder sounds.
Did the Audubon WPA graves survey reference to the Des Moines Register allude to an obituary for William R. Wetherall? Or did it allude to merely a report of his death on a simple list of names of Iowans who had recently died, with dates and places of death?
If to an actual obituary, how long was it, and where did it originate? Was it written by a Des Moines Register reporter based on a teletype or phone call from an informant in Audubon or even Knoxville? Who, in either town, would have informed the Des Moines paper in such a timely manner that it was able to report news of William R. Wetherall's death the following day?
Two photographs survive of William R. Riley's days in Audubon. One shows him composing type. Another shows him with other members of the Advocate staff. Did someone at the Advocate, hearing of his death, knowing of his past association with the Register and Tribune Company, inform someone at company?
Pending an examination of the 5 July 1936 issue of the Des Moines Register, all this is speculation. But that the Des Moines paper might have run an obituary for William R. Wetherall, in tribute to a former employee, would be a significant part of his story. It would imply that he hadn't been forgotten by friends and colleagues with whom he had enjoyed a measure of camaraderie.
Whatever the nature of the Register report, apparently it created the impression that -- true or not -- William R. Wetherall might have passed away in Audubon and be buried there.
Everyone is born to a woman who has been impregnated by a man. It doesn't matter if it happens in wedlock, or whether it's consensual, or out of love or for money or in the throes of unspeakable violence. A life comes into being, and with a modicum of care the baby will grow into a child that begins to ponder the conditions of its existence.
The facts of life
At some point in our childhood we hear about "the facts of life" or "the birds and the bees" from friends if not our parents or teachers, or from books or magazines we're not supposed to read. We learn that we came from mama's tummy, not a stork or a cabbage or a peach, or from Amazon.com.
Eventually we puzzle out the relationships between our parents and grandparents, and perhaps our 8 or so great grandparents, and aunts and great uncles and third cousins X times removed. Few of us ever meet (or remember meeting) any of our 16 (give or take a few) great-great grandmas or grandpas, though we may see them, and even more distant ancestors, in black-and-white or brown photographs that seem to come from another world. Those of us with truly old (and aristocratic) family histories may see the Progenitor himself -- possibly with the Progenitress -- in an oil portrait on a museum wall somewhere.
Whose nose, whose eyes, whose skin?
Families will debate which parent or other relative a child most resembles. You've got your father's nose, your mother's hair, your maternal grandfather's eyes. Some children discover later in life that their natural father was actually a grandfather, an uncle, or even an older brother. Or their natural mother was actually a grandmother, an aunt, or an older sister.
Or you discover that you were adopted from an unrelated family, or from an orphanage. Or you learn that you were found one morning in a basket beside the milk on the front porch. Or it turns out the rumors that began to spread at school one day -- that your dad was the milkman, or your mom was the family maid -- are true.
Or snooping in your parents closet one day, you find some photographs of your mother or father with another man or woman and a child that could be you. You keep it to yourself because, if you ask about it, your parents will know you were snooping. But the thought that you may not be what you thought you were, haunts you.
Then one day in school, you learn about blood types. Your homework is to ask your parents what your and their blood types are. Everyone will report their findings to the class, and students will compute the percents of A, B, O, and AB types in the class.
Your parents look at each other but tell you.
You report to the class that you and your mom are Os, your older brother's an A. Your younger sister's a B, and your dad's an AB. The student at the board adds this data to the running tally.
The next student is about to report when the class brain raises her hand. The teacher, who's been peering at you, acknowledges the hand raiser.
"If Lucy's parents are O and AB, then she can't be an O," the class brain says.
The teacher's eyes close then open. "Let's talk about that after everyone reports," he says. But the bell rings before he can return to the question, and you slip out of the room while he and the class brain huddle at her desk.
After dinner that night, you tell your parents what happened, show them what the textbook says, and ask them why you look so different from your older and younger siblings. You parent's eyes meet, your father nods, and your mother says, "I was raped by enemy soldier's during the war. We decided it didn't matter. And we hope it doesn't matter to you, because we love you. That's all that matters."
All that matters
But it's not all that matters to you. You have trouble sleeping, thinking of the circumstances of your conception. You also wonder what the teacher and the class brain talked about after class.
What if they, or someone else, asks you? You decide you'll tell them you made a mistake. You're actually an A. You'll save the truth for another day.
In the meantime, you live with the realization that you are a product of nature, red in tooth and claw. The human condition, at its meanest, is no different than the condition of other animals, many of which are subject as human beings to courtship rituals that result in some degree of compliance with a mating call.
Relationships are political. Courtships are political. Wars are political. Civilizations are political. And, ultimately, families are political. "Political" in that they are based on power relationships, whether involving the power of love, money, muscle, or blood.
In college, you decide to study your biological father's native language and study the history of his country. The chances of your finding him are slim, but you never know. You know the name of the enemy battalion that crossed your parent's farm that day. You're aware its veterans occasionally hold reunions.
You're prepared to understand the circumstances. The incident was what it was, an act of unforgivable brutality. Better, perhaps, to understand it as merely a crossing of paths, and not necessarily an unfortunate one. For here you are, healthy and loved, attending school, your future full of promise, thanks to your parents, who decided it was better to accept what couldn't be changed and go on with life.
What became of your father? Perhaps he migrated to this country and is living in the same town. What if, in the line of his work, he were to appear at the door? Would they recognize him? Would they want to kill him?
Perhaps you find a veteran who recalled the day his unit searched your home and found your mother in the cellar. And he told you what happened. The squad that raped your mother was entirely wiped out, half an hour later, during a counter offensive. Surviving members of the unit, including your informant, were taken prisoner. Would you feel happy? Would you feel vindicated by what you might see as an act of divine retribution?
Or perhaps the veteran said the man who might be your father was still alive. He agreed to pass a message to him. and a week later, he passed you a message from the man. He was in a hospital and wanted to see you. And at his bedside, you confront a man who looked like you would look if you were his age and about to die of cancer.
Thicker than blood
Some children discover early in life that they look entirely unlike either parent, and unlike any of their mother's or father's relatives. Their skin color and other such features may be totally different. Other adults and kids may point this out, sometimes cruelly. The children realize that they are of a different race, and that they have been adopted, possibly from another country. Or perhaps they are a child their mom or dad had with a someone of a different race before they married.
Blood ties often come down to ethnonational or racial ties. And here, too, the lies families contrive to establish and safeguard their honor run the spectrum. Lies told in the interest of instilling pride. Pride in blood purity -- "All our ancestors are Irish." Or pride in having no unwanted impurity -- "There's no Jewish blood in my veins."
Or pride in possession of a quantum of fashionable blood -- "I'm part Cherokee through my great-great-great grandmother, according to my mother."
You're blond, pink, and your eyes glow in the dark. But you love to read western fiction featuring Indian heroes -- half-blood, full-bloods, and even no-bloods.
Your favorite heroes when a boy were Chief Joseph and Straight Arrow. Or when a girl you imagined yourself a captive of a Comanche band that had killed your parents when raiding their home. You were raised in the band, married its future chief, and went on to lead your adoptive people in their continuing battles against the Federal Government, earning the nickname White Squaw.
Now you want to write your own western action or romance novels. If only you could claim to be at least part Sioux, Navajo, or even Modoc. Well, maybe you were. You'll never know until you know. And the only way you'll know is to find out. That may take some time, for it's not as easy to trace your ancestors as some Internet genealogical websites make it seem. It's even more difficult to prove that you've got a drop of Native American blood in your veins.
In the meantime, it won't do any harm to tell your friends that one of your distant ancestors is supposed to have been the son of an Iroquois Mohawk woman and a French beaver trapper who himself became a scout. You begin to imagine how all this will look on the author's biographical profile in the back of the book on supermarket fiction rack. Such ethnic creds might compensate for your shaky plot.
Say, for example, your father relates the following account.
"My grandmother on my father's side -- your great paternal-paternal grandmother -- told me her father told her his mother was half Cherokee through her mother."
Let's assume that your father wasn't embellishing or lying. In other words, what he told you was an accurate and truthful recollection of what your great grandmother told him -- which does not mean that what he told you is true, but simply that it is a faithful replication of her original "half Cherokee" statement. We are talking about the following chain of transmission from the remark your "paternal-paternal-maternal-paternal great-great-great grandmother" of 5 generations ago reportedly made about her ancestry in relationship to her mother.
But what were your half and full Cherokee ancestors' names? Names don't easily survive, and women's names don't survive as well as men's names in early records. Families favored keeping track of the main patrilineal line. Other male lines, unless particularly famous, tended to be underplayed or ignored. Women, as wives and mothers, were commonly referred to by their given names only. And again, unless a source of historical pride, little attention was given to maternal lines.
Even if you knew the natal (maiden) name of your half or full Cherokee ancestor, you would need to confirm the name's existence on a Cherokee census, typically one taken when the alleged progenitor's tribe or band was enrolled on a reservation somewhere in accordance with a treaty agreement. Whether the tribe, if it still exists, would recognize you as a member, even if only honorary, is another matter. A DNA test might show you to have a quantum of any "blood" you care to name, but does that make you "of" that blood?
The difference between
In other words, "oral history" remains "hearsay" and does not cross the line into the realm of "history" until it is verified by independent evidence in the form of documentation. This is the difference between genealogy as a social "science" and genealogy as a casual family activity that relies mainly on oral history or its written equivalent in the form of letters and other such personal reports. It's sort of like the difference between astronomy and astrology.
This is not to say that facsimiles of official documents -- such as birth, death, and marriage records, and census reports, not to mention cemetery registers, property deeds, or military service records -- are more accurate than personal letters, jottings on the back of photographs, or tape recordings of testimonies by living witnesses. Oral transmissions of stories passed down through the generations are likely to be distorted every time they are told. Yet the people who fill out official forms, or copy information from one form to another, may also make errors because they mishear or misread something, or fail to confirm assumed spellings -- or because they are as illiterate as their informant. So seemingly "credible" sources can turn out to be unreliable.
Kinship and consanguinity
Most people are familiar with kinship terms for blood relatives like mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, great aunt, and cousin and the like. Qualifiers like "maternal" and "paternal" -- and "half" and "step" and "in-law" -- are also generally understood. Terms that make distinctions between relatives separated by more than a couple of generations laterally -- like "1st cousin" or "3rd cousin twice removed" -- can be very confusing.
The following table shows relationships spanning five generations, representing both lineal (first row horizontal and first column vertical) relationships, and collateral (diagonal) relationships. The table shows the names of relationships up to four generations from a given common ancestor.
Kinship relationships defined in civil law
The following table shows relatives spanning three generations of lineal ancestors backward (ancestral) and forward (descendant) from a given person, which could be you -- plus collateral relatives stemming from lineal ancestors. This scheme is widely used in identifying relatives for purposes of civil law, including but not limited to inheritance law.
The degree of separation (s) of a person's spouse will the same as the person -- as far as the spouse's in-law relationships are concerned. In other words, both you and your spouse are 1 degree (s = 1) separated from each other's parents -- as either a child or as a child-in-law. Ditto for all other relationships, whether consanguineous (blood) or legal (in-law).
Degrees of separation (s) on kinship charts like this are commonly used in laws to draw lines within which relatives -- by blood as well as in some by law (marriage or adoption) are subject to certain laws. Japanese law, for example, defines relatives of various kinds within 6 degrees of separation. In Japan, a judge is not allowed to preside over a case involving a litigant who is within 4 degrees of relationship. And people are not allowed to marry direct lineal relatives, or collateral relatives within 3 degrees of relationship. Thus in Japan, a judge could marry, but not hear the case of, a 1st cousin -- a 4th degree relative.
Degree of consanguinity (c) and probability of sharing genes (p)
Consanguinity from a purely genetic point of view is somewhat different. In genetics, the degree of blood relationship or consanguinity (c) can be expressed as the probability of sharing genes (p). The probability that you share the genes of your biological parents, full siblings, full children, and double-grandchildren is roughly 1/2. The actual percent of sharing will of course be case-by-case, but the odds are that you and such "immediate" relatives will share about half of your genes.
Your parents and their siblings, and your children and their children, are also "immediately" related hence share 1/2 of their genes, which means that you and your cousins, and you and your grandchildren, share 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4 of your genes. And so forth. The same relationship holds for you and your half-siblings -- that is, your relationship with them is comparable to your relationship with your cousins and grandchildren, in that you most likely share only about 1/4 of your genes.
Mathematically, the degree of relationship (c) and the probability of sharing are related as follows.
1st degree (c = 1) p = 1/2 = 2^-1 = 2 to the -1 power
Or you could say
p = 1 / 2^c = 2^-d
Or you could say
c = log(1/2) p = log2 1/p
Degree of separation (s) and degree of consanguinity (c)
Separation and consanguinity are also mathematically related like this.
You and your siblings are separated by 2 degrees (s = 2). But you and your brother, say, are separated by two paths, one through your common mother and the other through your common father.
You (s=0) mother (s=1) brother (s=2), i.e., p = 2^-2 = 1/4
Each path involves the probability that you share p = 2^-2 = 1/4 of each parent's blood. Hence the probability that you and your brother share either your father's or your mother's blood is 1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2 = 2^-1. The degree of consanguinity corresponding to a double s = 2 relationship is c = 1.
However, you and a half-brother -- through, say, your common mother -- share only p = 1/4 the genes through her, and none through your different (presumably unrelated) fathers. The degree of consanguinity between you and a half-sibling is therefore c = 2.
Next take your niece, say you sister's daughter. You and she separated by s = 3 degrees of relationship. You are linked through both your mother and your father, and of course your sister, like this.
You (s=0) mother (s=1) sister (s=2) niece (s=3), i.e., p = 2^-3 = 1/8
The amount of blood that you and your niece are likely to share is therefore the sum of these two probabilities, namely, 1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4 = 2^-2. In this case, the consanguinity for a double s = 3 relationship is c = 2.
As a final example, take a first cousin, say the daughter of a maternal aunt. In this case, you and your cousin are linked through your maternal grandparents -- i.e., through both your maternal grandmother and your maternal grandfather.
You (0) mother (1) grandmother (2) aunt (3) cousin (4), i.e., p = 2^-3
Here the sum is p = 2^-3 + 2^-3 = 1/16 + 1/16 = 1/8, hence where the s = 4 relationship is doubled, d = 3.
Degrees of consanguinity
The following table shows the degrees of consanguinity (c) and probability of genetic sharing (p) for a variety of relationships, not all of them described on the conventional kinship diagram showing degrees of separation (s) of direct and collateral relatives.
Some few unusual terms have appeared or re-appeared.
half-sibling A brother or sister who shares only one parent.
half-niece, half-nephew The child of a half-sibling, hence having only half the consanguinity of a child of a full-sibling.
double-grandchild A child of full-siblings, who therefore have only one set of grandparents instead of two. The term is more likely used by animal breeders, but it also has application to the offspring of human siblings who marry whether or not aware of their relationship.
double-cousin A cousin both of whose parents are siblings of one's own parents though not of each other. In other, words, your aunt is your mother's or father's sister, and your uncle is your mother's or father's brother. Double cousins result when siblings from one family marry siblings from another family. To such an aunt or uncle, you would be a double-niece or double-nephew.
It all boils down to the fact that every individual stands on the shoulders of ∑2^n = 2^(n+1) -2 ancestors for any given number of ancestral generations (n) beginning with your parents' generation (n=1).
An = Ancestors in "nth" generation
The number of lineal ancestors (A) in the nth generation (An), counting back from your own generation (n=0), is equal to two (2) to the n-power (^n) hence 2^n.
An = 2^n
The first five generations have the following number of lineal ancestors.
A0 = 2^0 = 1 you (0th generation)
These figures represent the expected number of different lineal ancestors under conditions in which there are no incestuous consangiunous marriages within the "n" generations. A child born between a parent and child, or between a grandparent and grandchild, or between siblings, would have fewer different ancestors than a child born between parents who were not offspring of common lines.
If each generation represents 20 years, then you have 5 generations per century. At this rate, going back 400 years from the early 2000s, to the early 1600s, would involve 20 generations.
The number of lineal ancestors per century increases at the same rate.
A5 = 2^5 = 32 ancestors in 5th generation 1 century ago
TAn = Total ancestors in "n" generations
The above figures represent the numbers of ancestors within each "n" generation. The total number of lineal ancestors across all "n" generations (TAn) back from your generation (n=0), would be the sum of all the ancestors within each of the included generations.
TAn = ∑2^n
The values of TAn for n=0 to n=5 are as follows.
TA0 = A0 = 1
Since the value of TAn is equal to A(n+1) minus 1, you can directly compute that value of TAn like this.
TAn = A(n+1) - 1
This formula directly yields the same results for the case in which you include yourself (n=0).
TA0 = 2^(0+1) - 1 = 2 - 1 = 1
To calculate the total ancestors on whose shoulders you stand, beginning with your parents (n=1), excluding yourself from the pyramid, then subtract 1 from the above formulae.
TAn - 1 = A(n+1) - 2
Using this equation, you get the following results.
TA0 = 2^(0+1) - 2 = 2 - 2 = 0
However you calculate the total, it's a lot of ancestors to account for in just five generations. This is why many people who indulge in family history stay pretty close to the main patrilineal trail and don't stray too far off on matrilineal or collateral trails. This is also why efforts to describe an entire extended family for even a few generations read like randomized telephone books.
The number of possible ancestral lines becomes truly astronomical as you work your way back in time. Every individual today is an offspring of -- in theory, assuming that each ancestral line is unique -- an accumulation of about 2,000,000 ancestral lines over just the past 400 years.
Since each family represents the joining of two lines, how many families would this come to if you were to go back 2,000 years -- which is still a very short period of time?
The Emperor of Japan
Japan is not an empire, and the man who is called "the Emperor" in English is not really an emperor. In fact, the Japanese term "tennō" is also used for a woman who becomes the titular head of the heavenly family that, according to legend, stems from the Sun Goddess, who sent her descendants to earth to found and lead a terrestrial nation. But let's not get into the politics of translation here.
Consider here only the fact that Hirohito's son, Akihito, the present Emperor of Japan, is considered the 125th emperor beginning with Jinmu, the legendary 1st emperor. Whether the line is unbroken, as some people claim, is also of no concern here. Consider here only the following math, which regards the present emperor as the single individual (n=0) standing on the shoulders of 124th generations of ancestors back to Mr. Jinmu and one or another Mrs. Jinmu, who themselves are descendants of myriad ancestors.
Believe me when I say you won't learn this in school -- in any country.
TA124 = ∑2^124 = 2^(124+1)-2 = 4.25352959e+37 = 4.25352959 x 1037.
While the present emperor has only 124 direct lineal ascendants (plus, in theory, 124 spouses), he stands on the shoulders of 4.25 * 10^37 ancestors -- give or take a few.
That's 4.25 followed by 37 zeros.
Theory is easier
This is not only a staggering number of descent lines, but it's also an impossible number. For in the real world, the imperial descent lines considerably tangled within the caste-like classes of elite families that all but exclusively, and at times incestually, participated in the mating that kept the imperial line going over the centuries. Remember, though, that we are talking theory, not reality. Theory is easier, and in this case it is a lot more fun, although the complexities of reality are usually more interesting.
125 emperors can be listed on the front and back of a single leaf in a textbook to impress students with the continuity, mythical or not, of Japan's imperial family -- roughly 2,500 years if figured at 20 years per generation. In theory.
125, though, is just the main imperial line. Imagine how many terabyte capacity hard drives it would take to store the names of the 4.25 * 10^37 or 42.5 * 10^36 families that produced the 125 emperors (and a few empresses). In theory.
One terabyte is 10^12 bytes. So you'd need on the order of the cube of several (x) terabytes of memory -- (x * 10^12)^3 = x^3 * 10^36 bytes -- to begin to contain so much information. In theory.