Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thomas Washington Lusby (1835-1906)

I took a couple of hours on Sunday using my genealogy database software, Family Tree Maker 2012, to write up a biography of my 2nd great grandfather, Thomas Lusby.  I've been mainly using the database just as a back-up to my online tree at Ancestry.com, but lately I've been playing around with all the features and teaching myself about what this program can actually.

I gathered all the facts that had been inputted into the database, along with some additional information I've received from a second cousin, and tried my hand at writing his story.  This is something I'd like to do with all of my ancestors that are in my direct line.  By doing this litter exercise, Thomas became a lot more than just dates and facts.  In some ways, he came alive to me.

I hope you enjoy my story, and if you think we are related in anyway, I'd love to hear from you.

Thomas Washington Lusby

Thomas & Francis J. (Dameron) Lusby (ca 1880s)
Thomas Washington Lusby was born on October 31, 1835 in Westmoreland County, Virginia as the first (and only known) child of John Lusby and Margaret B. Self.  Margaret was the daughter of Moses and Maget Self.  According to family records, Thomas was named for the minister that married his parents, Thomas M. Washington.

Based on the information gathered to date, his father died some time before 1845, as his mother, Margaret, married James B. Moxley on January 7, 1845 in Richmond County, Virginia.  The first census that Thomas appears on is the 1850 US Federal Census.  He was 15 years old and living in Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia on a farm with his mother and stepfather, James Moxley. What's interesting is the fact that he was listed as a pauper on this census.  Also listed was a six year old mulatto named Leviticus Lusby, and his stepbrother, James Edwin Moxley, who was one year old.  It is unknown if Leviticus was the child of John Lusby and a slave or just the daughter one that was owned by Thomas’ parents.

On January 22, 1857, at the age of 21, Thomas married Martha A. (Sebra) Dunaway in Richmond County, Virginia.  Martha was the daughter of Edmond Sebra and Nancy Crowder, and she was also the widow of John Joseph Dunaway.  At the time of their marriage, Thomas became the stepfather of Martha's one year old daughter, Maria H. Dunaway.

During the course of their marriage, Thomas and Martha had four children:

1.     Margaret Ann Lusby was born on February 17, 1858 in Richmond County, Virginia.  She died in 1870 in Richmond County, Virginia.

2.     John J. Lusby was born in October 1859 in Richmond County, Virginia.  He died on October 24, 1892.  John married Laura E. Doggett on February 23, 1887 in Richmond County, Virginia.

3.     Luetta Jane Lusby was born on June 3, 1866 in Richmond County, Virginia. She died on January 3, 1936 in Baltimore, Maryland.  She married Caleb Litchfield Bryant on May 3, 1885 in Richmond County, Virginia.

4.     Martha Ella Lusby was born on September 6, 1868 in Richmond County, Virginia. She married Thomas E. Haynie on March 30, 1886 in Richmond County, Virginia.

According to Richmond County Order Book 31, p. 91, a record found by a genealogist that showed Richard B. Mitchell, administrator of the estate of John J. Dunaway was to pay Thomas Lusby $60 for the for the support of Maria H., who was the infant daughter of John J. Dunaway, for the last three years on May 7, 1860.  As shown in the following paragraphs, Maria is listed as living with Thomas W. and Martha Lusby, her stepfather and mother, on the 1860 and 1870 census.

Thomas next appears on the 1860 US Federal Census where he is living and working as a farmer in Richmond County, Virginia.  He is 24 years old and his personal estate is valued at $200.  Also living with him, at this time, is his wife Martha and the following children:  Margaret (age 2), John J. (age 8 months), and Maria H. Dunaway (age 4).

On June 4, 1861, Thomas enlisted as a Private in Company E of the Virginia 40th Infantry Regiment, which was a volunteer infantry regiment raised in Virginia for service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.  The regiment was organized on May 30, 1861.  Its members were recruited in Northumberland, Richmond, and Lancaster counties.  It fought mostly with the Army of Northern Virginia.  Prior to the reorganization after Chancellorsville, it was part of the first brigade of A.P. Hill's Light Division.  Field officers were Colonel John M. Brockenbrough; Lieutenant Colonels Fleet W. Cox, Arthur S. Cunningham, and Henry H. Walker; and Majors Edward T. Stakes and William T. Taliaferro.

After serving in the Aquia District, the unit was assigned to General Field's, Heth's, and H.H. Walker's Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia.  It participated in the campaigns of the army from the Sevin Days' Battles to Cold Harbor, then was involved in the Petersburg siege nth of the James River and the Appomattox Campaign.

The regiment sustained 180 casualties during the Seven Days' Battles which was about half its effective force.  The unit lost 4 wounded at Cedar Mountain, had 14 killed and 73 wounded at Chancellorsville, and of the 253 engaged at Gettysburg more than twenty percent were disabled.  Many were captured at Sayler's Creek and only 7 men were included in the surrender on April 9, 1865.  The regiment mustered out on April 9, 1865.

According to his Civil Ward Records, he was present and paid on June 20, 1861, August 31, 1861,
credit:  Fold3.com
October 31, 1861, and February 28, 1862.  He was recorded as a deserter on May 25, 1862, which was the day before his regiment took part in the Battle at Hanover Court House in Hanover County, Virginia.  Based on the history of his regiment, it appears the last battle he took part in was on April 18, 1862 at Falmouth, Virginia.

Thomas was arrested on May 27, 1863 by the Provost Marshal of the 1st Calvary Division, and was paroled to go north on May 29th, 1863.  No records have been found to explain where he was from the time he deserted in 1862 to when he was arrested a year later.

On June 20, 1869, Martha Lusby died in Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia at the age of 37.  Cause of death and where she is buried is unknown.

Thomas remarried on May 25, 1870 in Richmond County, Virginia.  He married Francis Jane Dameron,
daughter of Charles Y. Dameron and Lucy S. (Douglas) Dameron of Richmond County Virginia.  Thomas was 35 years old, and Francis was 21 years old.

During their marriage, Thomas and Fannie had 12 children:

1.     Charles Edward Lusby was born on August 20, 1871 in Richmond County, Virginia.   He died on June 3, 1886 in Richmond County, Virginia at the age of 14.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

2.      Lucy Margaret Lusby was born in December 1872 in Richmond County, Virginia.  She died in Maryland of Tuberculosis in 1910 at the age of 38.  She's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

3.     Fanny May Lusby was born on August 19, 1875 in Richmond County, Virginia.  She died in Richmond County, Virginia of Diphtheria on September 29, 1878 at the age of 3.  She's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

4.     Thomas Kirk Lusby was born on April 9, 1877 in Richmond County, Virginia, and died on July 15, 1954 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He married Ina Virginia Richardson on September 7, 1925 in Petersburg, Virginia He's buried at Lebanon Church in Newport News, Virginia.

5.     Frederick Claybrook Lusby was born on January 8, 1880 in Richmond County, Virginia, and died on November 3, 1881 in Farnham District, Richmond County, Virginia of congestion of the brain.  He was only a year old.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

6.     Harry Calhoun Lusby was born on November 7, 1882 in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia, and died on February 18, 1950 of a Cerebral Hemorrhage in Falls Church, Fairfax County, Virginia  He married Anna Dora Cowling in July 1902, and was married again to Kate N. Moore on March 16, 1927 in Alexandria, Virginia.  He's buried at Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia.

7.     William George Lusby was born on February 2, 1884 in Richmond County, Virginia, and died of Typhoid on August 18, 1926 in Richmond County, Virginia.  He married Nena Lillian Fones in 1912 in Virginia.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

8.     Theodore Washington Lusby was born on April 10, 1887 in Richmond County, Virginia, and was murdered at the age of 31 in 1918 while living in Ellicott City, Maryland.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

9.     Benjamin Franklin Lusby was born on April 20, 1889 in Richmond County, Virginia and died on June 19, 1968 in Lancaster County, Virginia.  He married Edith Irene Raitz, probably between 1914 and 1915 in Washington, DC.  He also married Willie Ann Perciful around 1949, probably in Lancaster County, Virginia.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia with his first wife, Edith Irene (Raitz) Lusby.

10.   Walter Blair Lusby was born on November 7, 1892 in Richmond County, Virginia, and died about 1904 in Richmond County, Virginia at the age of 12.  He's buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

11.   Asa Allin Lusby was born on November 7, 1894 in Richmond County, Virginia and died of Lung Cancer on April 5, 1960 in Arlington, Virginia.  He married Louise Armida.  He's buried at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

12.    Infant Lusby was born in Richmond County, Virginia, and is buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

On the 1870 US Federal Census, Thomas is listed as living and working as a farmer in Farnham Township,
Thomas W. & Francis J. (Dameron) Lusby w/children
 (ca 1890s)
Richmond County, Virginia.  He is 33 years old.  His real estate is valued at $600, and his personal estate is valued at $125.  Living with him is his wife Fannie (age 21) and the following children:  John J. (age 10), Luetta J (age 5), Martha E (age 1), and his stepdaughter from his first marriage, Maria H. Dunaway (age 14).  There is also a Martha A. Lusby, age 38, also living with them.  (It has not yet been determined who she is.)

When the 1880 US Federal Census rolled around, Thomas is living and working as a farmer in Farnham Magisterial District, Richmond County, Virginia.  He's now 44 years old and his wife, Fannie, is 30 years old.  The census shows the following children living in the household:  John J. (age 19), Luetta (age 15), Martha E (age 12), Charles (age 7), Lucy M. (age 7), Thomas K (age 3 months), and Frederick (age 0 months).
On July 24, 1880, Thomas is listed on the 1880 Agricultural Schedule for Farnham District, Richmond County, Virginia.  At this time, Thomas owned 50 acres tilled land and 119 acres of woodland/forest.  The land was valued at $400 and live stock was valued at $120.  The estimated value of all farm production (including sold, consumed, or on hand) was $150.  The following live stock was recorded:  1 horse, 4 working oxen, 1 milk cow, 1 calf, 20 swine, and 25 barnyard poultry.  In 1879, the farm produced 150 dozen eggs; and he had 12 acres of Indian Corn, which produced 125 bushels; and 6 acres of Wheat, which produced 40 bushes.

Almost all of the records for the 1890 US Federal Census were destroyed in a fire in Washington, DC, and that information is lost forever.

According to Richmond County Virginia: A Review Commemorating the Bicentennial, 1776-1976, Thomas W. Lusby was appointed as the Justice of the Peace in the Farnham District effective July 1, 1895.

At the time of the 1900 US Federal Census, Thomas is living and still working as a farmer in Farnham District, Richmond County, Virginia.  He's now 66 years old, and has been married to Fannie for 30 years.  This census recorded a lot more information about each member of the household.  It showed that Thomas could read, write and speak English.  He owned his farm free and clear.  Fannie is 50 years old, and she's the mother of 11 children, 8 or 9 of whom are still living (the handwriting of the census taker was hard to read).  The following children are living in the household:  Harry (age 17), Willie (age 15), Theodore (age 13), Frank (age 11), Walter (age 8), and Acy A. (age 6).

Thomas Washington Lusby died on February 2, 1906.  He was 65 years old, and according to an inventory of his personal property after his death, Thomas made his share of moonshine

A notice of his passing ran in a local paper, and it sounds like he died of a stroke.  The notice was published in The Virginia Citizen:  Irvington, Virginia on Friday, February 16, 1906.  It reads:

Thomas Lusby, of near Downing's, died very suddenly Friday night before last.  He was stricken with paralysis about five o'clock in the afternoon from which he never rallied, dying at eleven that night.

He is buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County Virginia.  His original tombstone read:

"In Loving Memory of My Husband
Thomas W. Lusby
Born Nov 31, 1833; Died Feb 2, 1906
Not dead, but sleepth"

Unfortunately, his tombstone didn't survive the test of time and has since been replaced by Dennis Smith and Thomas K. Lusby, Jr., my 1st cousin 1x removed and 2x removed respectively.  The headstone lists Thomas and Fanny, as well as many of their children that are also buried at Farnham Baptist Church in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - August Raatz: A Letter From My 2nd Grand Uncle to His Niece

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted.  I was working hard and heavy on my family history research, and I guess I got a little burned out.  That all changed last week when I received a scan of this letter from my 2nd cousin that he had found.

I had hit a major brick wall with my 2nd great grandfather, Frank W. Raitz.  All I had on him prior to his immigrating to the United States was his birth year and place - May 1857 and Germany.  This made it pretty impossible to find out where he actually came from and who the rest of his family was.

Now comes this letter from his brother, Carl August Raatz.  To say I was excited doesn't really describe the feeling I had when I read the letter.  It contained enough information that I believe I have now found Frank's father and grandfather, as well as two additional brothers.  I'm still sifting through the information and finding more information.  It's a nice feeling to feel the bricks falling down.

The letter was written in 1934 to my 2nd great grandmother, Edith Irene (Raitz) Lusby.  The letter is dated March 31, 1934, and at the time August Raatz was living in Stettin, Germany.

Mrs. B. F. Lusby

Dear Niece and Children.  I received your letter of Feb 25th 1934 and before I opened it I felt that you are blood from my blood.  I feel very sorry with my family for the fate of your Father, my Brother. To be sure each other that we are relatives, I send you a photo of your parents wich your Father send me in 1889.

I served in the german Army and did not hear anything of him since as long as our Father was alive we had regular corresponding and after his dead I still corresponded with your mother, but only a short time fore she could not read the german language.  Before that your mother wrote me about the accident of your Father.  He is born on May 11, 1857 in Tempelburg, Neustettin (county).  My Father died on April 1894 in Stettin.  Besides me there is only one sister living of your Father, with the name Auguste Raatz.  She is widow and 70 years of age.  Julius and Karl are dead.  There is only the wife of Julius living, my wife and I, my children, wich all send you hearty greetings.

I am married since 1892, had 13 children. Voun of them are still alive, three are married and one daughter 24 years of age is living right at home.  Since 1895 I am working fore the Reichsbahn (Raylway) and was living the last 18 years of service first conductor and foreman.  Since the 1 of Aug 1931 I get a pension from the State of Prussia (Raylway).  On May 18, I will be 68 years old.

Right now I am compiling my pedigree and fore this I ask you fore your help.

Would you please send me the names of your father, mother, sisters, brothers?  All names, first, middle, and
last name with date of birth, marriage and dead and if no such date can be obtained any other date about something that happened on another date.  And if possible the same of your and there children.

If the Lords will and your desire, we can correspond as long as it please you.

Many hearty greetings
Your Onkel
August and Family

p.s.  Can you read the German language

Monday, June 17, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - St. John's - Orphanage or Safe Haven (Part 3)

Here is Part 3 of my Great Aunt Pat's memories from her 5-year stay at St. John's Orphanage in Washington, DC.  You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

St. John's - Orphanage or Safe Haven? (Part 3)

By Pat Geiger

There are so many memories of my five-year stay at St. John’s – the two tall trees at the country house, one designated for the girls, and the other for the boys.  The girls had the better tree.  It was taller, leafier and closer to the road making the top more expansive.  We spent hours sitting at the top of that tree singing our lungs out.  “Springtime in the Rockies,” “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane,” “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbing Along,” “Roll ‘Em Girls, Roll ‘Em,” and all the other #1 hits of the ‘20s.

I remember the swimming pool at the country home, not much of a pool, but how many private pools were there in 1925, outside of Hollywood.  This pool was enclosed in a building with barn-like doors which, when open, made the enclosure three-sided.  The boys and girls had different days to use the pool, and there was a large tent for changing into our bathing suits.  The pool was made of very rough concrete and wasn’t very deep which resulted in a lot of scraped kneeds but little fear of drowning.

I remember Sister Emily sitting smack-dab in front of the large Philco radio in the library listening to “Amos and Andy” with all the kids gathered around her.  If we were lucky she would also listen to “Myrt and Marge.”  If not, the radio was turned off, Sister Emily left the room and we went back to our homework or whatever we were doing at 7 o’clock when “Amos and Andy” came on.

I remember when Maryanne Brooks was adopted.  We were sure her adoptive parents were very rich because when whe returned for a visit she was wearing a pale gree silk dress with a wrist watch.

Not many of the children were adopted since most had at least one parent, but I do remember that the dentist, Dr. Martin, adopted one of the older girls.

Evelyn Robinson had been at the home since she was siz months old.  She grew up there and when she was 18 became a governess.

One memory concerns one of my life’s most embarrassing moments.  For a short while after leaving the home we lived at the Flagler Apartments just a few blocks from St. John’s.  Because of the proximity, it was easy to visit my old friends.  At the home we were required to wear long winter underwear, the little girls’ having a drop seat in the rear while the big girls wore what we called “Sally open splits” because there was a slit the full length of the crotch.  When I knew I was leaving the home, I told everyone the first thing I was going to do when I went home was to take off my winter underwear.

It was December when I left and, of course, my other wouldn’t allow me to change into lightweight underwear in mid-winter.  During my first visit back I was in the playroom with my friends turning carwheels.  My dress came up over my head revealing the still-present long underwear.  I was the laughing stock of the playroom.

I was just as happy to leave the home on December 7, 1930 – I remember the date because it was my mother’s birthday – as I had been that summer day in 1925 when I arrived.  But I did miss my friends and since my mother was remarried to a man ten years her junior and an alcoholic, life outside the home didn’t live up to my expectations.

For the better part of a year each time Elizabeth or I stepped out of line my mother would say, “Do that again and I’ll send you back to the home.”  After hearing this more times than I could count, I silently wished she would stop threatening and just do it.

St. John’s Orphanage operated for 86 years, from 1870 to 1956.  During those years it was often filled to capacity and sometimes, in its later years of operation, had as few as 14 children.  The average number over those years was 90 – 100.  Thirty-three children were admitted in 1925 of which I was one.  The average stay for a child according to the records for 1914-1929 was 3.1 years.  My stay of five years was longer than average and Elizabeth’s seven years longer still.  St. John’s was not a place to dump your child and forget him or her, but a place to keep your child safe until better times came your way.
St. John's Orphanage Country Home
Arlington, Virginia

The orphanage closed in 1956 because the need for its existence had dimished with modern-day thinking and other means of child care, mostly foster homes.  Also, the building housing the city home was old and in need ot expensive repairs.  The neighborhood was no longer residential and not considered a proper environment for children.  The few children remaining at the time of the closing were sent to other institutions or returned home to their parents.

While St. John’s ceased operation as an orphanage in 1956, its service to the community continued.  It became St. John’s Child Development Center located at 4800 MacArthur Blvd, N.W.  It’s name is now St. John’s Community Services and its mission, as stated in the brochure “Celebrating 125 Years of Commitment” is:  “To enable children and adults with developmental disabilities to reach their greatest potential by providing them with support and opportunities that enhance their efforts to make decisions for themselves and that offer them full participation in the life of the community.”

In 1959 the building at 1922 F Street, N.W. was sold for $515,000 to the National Association of Life Underwriters which still occupies the building.  The ten acres on which the country home stood became a housing development many years ago, after having been leased by the U.S. Government in 1941 for the duration of World War II.

While the word “orphanage” has come to mean something less than desirable, personal experience and very vivid memories give a different meaning to the word for me.  To all those who feel sorry for children living in orphanages or are shocked to learn that I spent five years in one, I want to say that those five years were the best give my mother ever gave me.  Rather than being called an orphanage, with all that word’s negative connotations, I prefer to call St. John’s my safe haven because that is truly what it was.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - St. John's - Orphanage or Safe Haven (Part 2)

Here is Part 2 of my Great Aunt Pat's memories from her 5-year stay at St. John's Orphanage in Washington, DC.  You can find Part 1 here.

St. John's - Orphanage or Save Haven? (Part 2)

By Pat Geiger

Most people, including my own children, feel sorry for me when learning I spent five years in an orphanage.  The truth is, I was far more fortunate than those children left alone all day, many of whom never ate as well as I, nor slept in a nice clean bed, nor had their every physical and spiritual need met.

Both the city and country homes had chapels where we were required to attend brief services each morning before breakfast and each evening before supper.  Every Sunday we attended St. John’s Church – three hours on Good Friday.  When the children reached the age of 10, with their parents’ consent, they were confirmed at St. John’s Church after several weeks of confirmation classes.

I was very proud to be awarded a Bible for having the neatest notebook in my confirmation class.  I still have this Bible in the front cover of which is my Confirmation Certificate dated April 6, 1930 and signed by Robert Johnstin, Rector.  I was confirmed by Biship Freeman, then Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

The first page of my Bible is inscribed:

“To Flora Mae Hennings, April 6, 1930
From Elizabeth K. Dodge”

Flora May (with a “y”) Hennings was once my name.

We attended public school, walking to school in groups with a governess.  I attended Grant School for kindergarten through 5th grade.  When leaving the home seven days after turning 11, I transferred to Toner School, a move I didn’t care for.  Elizabeth was allowed to remain at Grant where she graduated from the 8th grade.

There were things, of course, which we didn’t have, things of a personal nature, since almost everything was done in groups and most things were community property.  Every now and then on the way home from school, we would stop at Quigley’s drugstore.  This was the typical drug store of the ‘20s, complete with now- called ice cream tables and chairs with bent wire backs.  Beside one of these tables was a large wire basket filled with unwrapped cakes of soap of every shape and color.  More than anything in this world I wanted a cake of that soap to call myown.  At the home we shared the soap which was either white or tan, what was then called common soap.  Now that I can have any cake of soap I wish, what do I use?  White Ivory 99-94/100% pure.

My sister and I were actually second generation orphanage residents.  My father and my two uncles lived at the German Orphan Asylum in Southeast Washington when they were boys.  If life at St. John’s was any indicator, children living in orphanages, at least in Washington, D.C. were treated very well, not only by those responsible for their care, but by the general public as well.

Once a year Thurston, the magician, came to the home and put on a show.  Every Easter Monday we went enmasse to roll our egges on the White House lawn.  One day each summer Wonder Bread, Fussels Ice Cream and other local companies took over Glen Echo Amusement Park in nearby Maryland, and brought the children from all the city’s orphanages to the park for the day.  All rides were free and refreshments were plentiful.  I remember the Fussels ice cream which cme in pre-wrapped squares of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate or vanilla, chocolate and orange ice combinations.  There were hot dogs served, of course, on Wonder Bread rolls and plenty of other goodies.

During the school year when we lived at the city home, we went every Saturday to the Circle Theatre on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., where we were admitted free of charge.  Allan B. Scott of Commerce, Georgia, who lived at St. John’s from 1915 through 1923, shares this memory.  “The Circle movie theater allowed us to come on Saturday’s free.  We only  had to say ‘St. John’s’ to be admitted.  They never seemed to notice that kids from the neighborhood also joined the St. John’s line.”

St. John's Orphanage Country Home
Arlington, Virginia
In order to attend the movies, we had to “get our marks.”  This meant that during the week we had behaved ourselves and and had received no bad marks against our record.  You had to do something really bad to lose your marks, but I remember one time half the girls lost theirs for one foolish act.

When we returned to the home every girl who had been on the shopping strip was asked if she taken anything from the store.  It was amazing the items which appeared out of lockers, out of “jewelry” boxes, from under beds.  Almost every girl had lifted something, most of it things for which they had little use.

Sister Cora lined us up to have our bottoms tanned.  I went to the end of the line reasoning that by the time she got to me she would be worn out.  How wrong I was.  When it was my turn, she was just warming up.  At age 71 Sister cora could still wield a pretty strong strap and though I realize that in today’s world taking a strap to a child is considered abuse worthy of a jail sentence, a few whacks on the bottom truly did no harm.  We had committed a crime and to escape with only a few strokes of the strap made us feel fortunate.  In the five years I lived at St. John’s this was the one and only time I received corporal punishment.  (Sister Cora died in 1947 at the age of 88).

Of course, I was an outcast for a while having been the one who got caught.  Hech’t forgave us once all of the loot was returned to the store, even telling us that when we grew up they might have jobs for us.  I never took them up on this offer but I did a lot of shopping at the store over the years.  This was my first and only infraction with the law; that hand on my shoulder was heavy enough to steer me straight.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Thomas & Margaret (Boa) Stavert

Thomas & Margaret (Boa) Stavert

Thomas Stavert
died June 1, 1869
78 years

died May 14, 1876
89 years

This is the headstone for my 3rd great grandfather and grandmother on my Mom's side of the family tree.  They are buried together at North Bedeque United Cemetery in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  They immigrated from Scotland to Prince Edward Island about 1821.

I hope someday to get a much better picture of their headstone as I have cousins that still on the island.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - St. John's - Orphanage or Safe Haven (Part 1)

I remember a few years ago my mom telling that my paternal grandmother and her sister had spent a few years in an orphanage after my great grandmother and grandfather divorced.  After she mentioned it, I didn't think much more about it.  Then when I started researching my family history, my mom mentioned it again and I did some research into the orphanage, but didn't find much.

Then a few weeks ago, my parents returned from a road trip where they visited my Dad's sister.  They brought back lots of scanned pictures and a pdf document that was typed in 1996 by my grandmother's sister about her five-year stay at the orphanage.  It was a very interesting read.  The document is too long to share in one posting, so I thought I'd break it up into several postings.  My Aunt Carol scanned the original document into 11 individual pdf files.  I then transcribed it into one Word document.


By:  Pat Geiger

It was the summer, 1925 and the day to which I had looked forward for two years had arrived.  This was to be the first day of my five-year residence at St. John’s Orphanage in Washington, D.C.  Why would I look forward to going to an orphanage?  My sister, Elizabeth, has been there for two years; I had to wait until I was five.  I wanted to be with my sister.

Since it was summer, the children were living at the “country home” on Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia.  When school opened they would return to the “city home” at 1922 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C.  St. John’s Orphanage was operated under the auspices of St. John’s Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square, now known as the Church of Presidents, and the Sisters of St. Margaret.

My entrance to St. John’s may not have been grand, but it was certainly memorable.  The first building I entered was the infirmary.  Immediately upon arriving at the orphanage I asked for Elizabeth and was directed around the corner of the main building.  I set off at a run, fell on the gravel path, tore up my knee and was escorted to the infirmary.  All this, even before I was officially registered.  I still have two pale purple scars to remind me of my first day at St. John’s.

The children at St. John’s, few of whom were full orphans, most having one remaining parent or being children of divorce, were divided into little girls, big girls, little boys and big boys.  I was never in the boy’s quarters – no co-ed housing here – but I assume the big boys were again divided as were the big girls, into “insects,” “juniors” and “seniors.”  There were only two senior girls who shared a room adjacent to that of the governess, Mrs. Alford, the mother of one of the seniors.

The “big girls” were really not very big since I started at age five as a “little girl” and advanced by the age of 10 to the “juniors.”

Each group of boys and girls has a governess.  There were also four Sisters of St. Margaret, Sister Cora, who was very much in charge , Sister Emily, Sister Eleanor and Sister Eleanora.  There was also a cook, a yardman, and in the summer, a gardener who grew all the vegetables consumed by the residents.

St. John's Orphanage Summer Home
Arlington, Virginia
There was a full-time nurse in the infirmary plus a doctor and dentist who visited on a regular schedule.  There was a hospital within walking distance of the city home which was a great convenience.  I once walked there accompanied by a governess, holding a towel to my split chin, the result of an accident while showing off my acrobatic prowess.  Another scar to add to my memories of St. John’s.

As mentioned, many of the children had divorced parents.  In the 1920,s there was little organized child care, no pre-school or Head Start.  Foster homes were in their infancy and still a subject of controversy.  When my parents divorced, Mother had no choice but to place us in St. John’s, the best decision she ever made regarding our care.

If parents could afford to pay for their children’s care, they paid what they could.  If they could not, they were not required to do so.  Each child was treated the same whether or not they were paid for.  If parents could not afford Easter baskets, for instance, the home, which is what we always called St. John’s, provided them.  Everyone received Christmas presents, many of them donated by caring people or organizations who also donated turkeys at Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Whether or not our parents could afford to pay for our keep, we also had to “work” for it.  Even the youngest children were required to make their beds each morning and the older we were, the larger our tasks.

The bathrooms at the home were, of necessity, quite large with a line of basins and toilets much like a large public restroom.  There were also several bathtubs.  Two or three children were assigned the task of cleaning the bathroom (there was a separate bathroom for each group of children) for a week.  The following week they would move on to another job:  doing the laundry, cleaning the playroom, helping in the kitchen and dining rooms (the boys and girls has separate dining rooms), mopping and dusting the dorms, etc.  None of the work we were asked to do was beyond our abilities and while we complained as all children do when asked to perform chores, it was good training for the future.
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