Monday, October 29, 2012


Happenstance took me past this old house with its sagging roof caused by years of neglect and winters buried in deep heavy snow. It is obvious that it will not stand much longer and today will likely be my last photo op. My husband voiced those sentiments then stopped the car without being asked. I exited and made my way alone toward the rickety heap. I was surprised at the tears that filled my eyes as I snapped away. But you see, this house is not your ordinary old crumbling down house; something significant occurred within its walls. These aged log walls and crumbling roof had once been the scene of what I would term nothing less than a miracle.

Friday the thirteenth is considered by many to be unlucky.  Those who, for whatever reason, found themselves beneath the roof of this house on Friday the 13th of October 1916 found it to be a miraculously lucky day.   A mother, father and their seven children called this home, but their oldest daughter and the husband she had recently wed were staying there was well.  There was an unexpected visitor in the home that day serving in the capacity of midwife.  Her services should not have been needed for a few more months.  But she was there because the young bride had gone into labor way before her time.  The woman attended as the young mother gave birth to her tiny baby boy weighing in at 2½ lbs.  The baby struggled, but he lived.  He was placed on the oven door which played the roll of an incubator.  Family members were believers so many prayers must have been sent Heavenward in his behalf.  The struggling continued for a couple of months.  Then, he began to thrive after his parents discovered one of the cows gave milk that seemed to agree with their tiny son.  I think God knew that this little one would grow up and do some good in this world and so he put all the needed pieces together that let this infant live: the midwife, the oven door, the cow, the answered prayers and a goodly portion of stubbornness and determination that this young one would need to get him through more than this one close brush with death.

There was the visit to the dentist who had failed to clean his tools.  The result was one very sick boy.

It was a very scary day when the twelve year old lad and his aging grandfather had their milk truck broadsided by a streetcar on the streets of Salt Lake.  Both occupants were thrown from the truck.  The grandfather landed on the street while his young grandson ended up in the worst possible place, underneath the truck.  The boys pelvis was crushed and there were other serious injuries, but it could have been so much worse if not for a milk can that just happened to land in such a way that it took the brunt of the trucks heavy weight from off the boy.  Both grandfather and grandson spent an extended period of time in the hospital recovering from this brush with death.  But the boy did recover and return home to his family.  Another miracle in his life, this time in the guise of a milk can.

All these brushes with death were preparatory for what was to come.  The boy grew into a man at a time when evil threatened to overthrow freedom and he was called to serve.  He made his way up Omaha Beach two days after the initial D-Day Invasion of June 6, 1944.  All the soldiers equipment and personal effects were left on the ship to be delivered later. Instead the enemy attacked the boat sinking it and all its precious cargo into the depths of the sea.  It would be sometime before these items could be replaced and some were frankly irreplaceable   The soldier and those who were with him trailed behind General Patton's main army picking up paratroopers who had bravely landed behind enemy lines, and straggling soldiers who had become lost from their units.  They took prisoners and cleaned out pockets of enemy resistance.  Their march continued through all of July and into the middle of August.

August 17th  the soldier and his unit were nearing Brest, France when a nest of Nazi machine guns opened fire from the top of a hill.  A bullet found its way into the fleshly part of the soldiers left leg.  Two hours later two more machine gun bullets hit the same leg this time shattering the bone.  Some preliminary medical aid was administered, but the battle worsened and his unit had to retreat leaving him behind wounded at the bottom of the hill.  How painful it must of been as he silently drug himself to a nearby shell hole to take advantage of what meager protection it could provide.  The soldier was petrified as night closed in and he waited to see what was to be.  Would his Allied soldiers be able to make their way back to him or would the Germans get to him first?  During the night he could hear the cries of his fellow wounded soldiers, mingled with the voices of the nearby German soldiers. He dared not make a sound, he knew if he did he would be a goner.  During the long night he made some promises to himself and promises to God.  If he could make it home, he would never leave the hometown he loved, he would find and marry a good woman and raise a family and there were more promises that were deep and personal.  Morning found him still alive, hiding in the shell hole. The day drug on into afternoon with him still silently waiting for the result.  Finally, that afternoon the Allies returned and he could call out vocally for the help he so desperately needed.  His recovery was long and not without its setbacks.  He would carry the puckery scars on this leg for many years, until modern medical techniques could replace the missing parts. He walked with a limp and an ache in his leg, but he didn't complain, it was a small price to pay for the privilege to serve.

There were yet important things for this man to do.  He had nine younger siblings who  looked up to him.  He gave them guidance and direction even after they were grown.  He was the kind of man who went out of his way to help those no one else would.  He crawled out of his warm bed to go to the side of of his fellowman, beat up in a bar fight that resulted in cuts and scraps full of gravel and glass and took him to get the needed emergency care.  He befriended the loaner when no one else cared.  He always had a person or two that looked to him as a friend and as a helping hand.  They used his washer and dryer to care for their clothes, they used his tap to fill containers with water cause their home had no well.

He married that good woman and raised a family of three.  He taught them to work, to fish and to believe.  Believe in God, Believe in Family. Believe in country.  Fourteen grandkids joined the family and learned to love their grandpa. They loved to ride in the back of his truck in the mountains.  They loved to go with him to water his 40 acre ranch and most importantly this man loved his family.  He was not perfect, but he was perfect for them.

As I stood snapping photos of this falling down house, I was grateful that God had chose to place a miracle in the life of that tiny 2½ lb baby boy so he could survive a dentist, a street car and machine gun bullets and could grow up to be my dad.  So with tears and a moment of reverence I stood and paid respect to this miracle house.

Ordinarily, I would not write without names, but this piece wrote itself and this is how it came out.  So here are some facts to go with the story.
The baby's name was:  Cloyd Arthur Powell
Father: Arthur Enos Powell
Mother: Edna Powell
The baby was born at the home of his maternal grandparents home in Altonah, Duchesne, Utah.  The home was built in 1909.   Cloyd was actually the oldest of thirteen children, but only ten lived to adulthood.
Maternal Grandfather: Lott Powell
Maternal Grandmother: Mary Jane Burgess
Altonah was part of the Ute Indian Reservation that had opened up for homesteading in 1905.  There was no electricity, so the oven door was actually part of the wood burning stove.  There was no hospital or doctor in the area.

It was Cloyd's paternal grandfather who was driving the milk truck when it was struck by the street car.
Paternal Grandfather: Dan Thomas Powell
Maternal Grandmother: Emma Lozetta Higby
Dan Thomas Powell was not in good health before the accident and family believes that it played a part in his death that occurred less than 8 months after the accident. 

Notice a trend here?  Yes, unrelated Powells married. It is sure fun trying to keep them all straight.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Sometimes the only things left when a person leaves for the Great Beyond is the smattering of records that tells their tale.  Each tale is personal and distinct and some of them make you want to just sit down and bawl.

                                                         A Quick Review        

When we left Parmenus W. Simpson, we had traced him through census records to the year 1900. We found that while Parmenus W. was serving in the Civil War he was listed as missing but had made his way home to his parents by 1870. We had also found that his wife, Lucinda, had disappeared after filing for a widows pension and that his pension record in the national archives is missing.  We also found him living with or next to his sister, Diademia, in each of the census records.1  We were left with many question about Parmenus W. and Diademia and the missing Lucinda. Then on September 21, I decided to search the pay sight and see if they had an obituary for Parmenus Simpson, they didn't, but instead I found a treasure, the document posted below.  It's contents are a bit disturbing and they brought more questions and eventually some answers and tears.

                                                           The Answers

The document proved that Lucinda, wife of Parmenus W., was still alive in 1922.  At this time, she was aged 92, living in Michigan and had, had an additional husband and was using the surname Hayes.  So at least some questions are now answered, but there are still  questions especially about Lucinda's choices and actions. Questions like, if she had not heard from the soldier, Parmenus  W. Simpson, since his enlistment, how did she know he died May 22, 1914 in a poorhouse?  How was Parmenus supposed to locate her if she left Wyoming County, New York and moved to Michigan?  Why didn't she just divorce Parmenus? She certainly must have known Parmenus W. was alive since she applied for a widows pension early on?  Was it so important that she avoid being a divorcee that she was willing to break the law and commit polyandry?2  Most of these question will never be answered because only Lucinda is qualified to answer them while other questions might be answered by the missing pension record.  When did she leave New York?  I hope to find the answer to that question once I receive a copy of her obituary.  She was living with the family of John and Sarah McKnight in Waverly, VanBuren, Michigan when the 1870 census was enumerated so she left New York prior to that date. [See source for additional information about Lucinda.]3  

Now on to the story of Diademia, sister to Parmenus. Reports in the Warsaw newspaper, The Western New Yorker, show she  was out and about the town of Bennington to some extent, visiting friends and taking short trips. An article (shown above) printed in late February 1890 tells she was so ill with la grippe she found herself dependent on her neighbors for food and warmth.4  She seems to have been liked in her community.

A disturbing newspaper report published in April 1894 (shown right) describes the torment the siblings suffered at the hands of some of the neighborhood hooligans.  The same story shows the contrasting opinions the community had for these siblings. Said to be feeble, Diademia is also described with such kind words as  mild, peaceable and respected.  Contrastingly, Paremenas is labeled with one single unflattering word, "peculiar."5  Diademia died in March of 1901 and is buried in an unmarked grave in an unknown cemetery leaving Parmenus W. to finish out his life.  In March 1905, a man named William Post who was residing with Parmenus on Poland Hill was found dead.  His age was approxiamted as about 64 years old.  He had no known relatives and was ordered buried in  Bennington by the overseer of the poor.7  At this writing, nothing more is known about the next twenty months of Parmenus W. Simpson's life.
Poorhouse information exists for a Parmeno Simson whose information matches very closely to Parmenus W.8  And so we say goodbye to Parmenus W. Simpson and hello to Permeno Simson/Simpson.  Permeno was admitted to the Wyoming County Poorhouse in the Town of Orangeville on November 22, 1907.  County records covering the three year period from 1910 through 1912 gets him from age 81 to age 83 as a resident of the poorhouse.9

Earlier poorhouse records covering the years 1907-1911, tell us the cause of Parmeno Simpsons dependence was due to his being old and homeless.  It also tells us he was able to do light chores, had good habits, that his recovery was doubtful and that his marital status was single.  Surprisingly, the document gives his occupation as doctor; with his education as common school.10  It  is unknown when he practiced medicine as none of the census records mention this occupation. It is so sad that he would find himself homeless after living in the town of Bennington his entire life except his years in the military and the time it took for him to make his way home.  His family roots in Western New York goes back several years before his birth in 1829.  It is no surprise that the 1910 Census lists Permeno as Permeus Simpson living in the county almshouse where he is listed as single, age 82 and his relationship to head of household is inmate.11  

Permeno Simpson/Simpson died 22 May 1914 12 still an inmate of the poorhouse.  He was buried in the Wyoming County Home Cemetery, Varysburg, Wyoming County, New York. His Find A Grave record gives his name as Peremo Simson.  His headstone is simply engraved with the number 185.13

Photo taken by Jim and  Elizabeth. Used by permission.

   1. See my blog titled: HOW PARMENUS W. SIMPSON BECAME KNOWN AS No.185: The Questions 
       for sources mentioned in this paragraph.  See links below sources for links to more information on 
       Parmenus W. Simpson's military units. 
   2. Pensions and Increase of Pensions For Certain Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War, 
       September 1, 1922.  Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and Ordered to be 
       Printed September 1, 1922 Publication: Serial Set Vol. No. 7959; Report: H. Rpt. 1203 
       Source:  This document continued to a second page not shown that 
       explains that Lucinda was in constant need of aid and support of others and that she owned 
       no property, had no income and was senile. She received a $30 per month pension.  As a 
       note of interest Lucinda died in July of 1922. Her headstone can be found on Find A Grave, 
       Memorial #79486424 at:     
   3. "United States Census, 1870," index and images,(
       accessed 03 Oct 2012), Lucinda S Simpson in household of John Mcknight, Michigan, United
       States: citing p. 23, family 176, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 552205.
   4. Diademia Simpson Warsaw, The Western New Yorker 
       1889-1891, Image no. 220 Thursday, 27 Feb 1890 pg. 2 column 2 Bennington News. 
   5. Parmenas and Diademia Simpson Warsaw Western New Yorker 1892-1894a 
       image no. 480, 26 Apr 1894 pg. 2 col. 4.  This article was first brought to my attention by Anita Hayes
       see source 6 below for her information.
   6. Email from Anita Hayes dated 25 Sep 2012.  Anita Hayes is a 
       professional genealogist and historian who charges for her services.  Note: The full date of death 
       is given in the email. 
   7. P. Simpson Warsaw, The Western New Yorker 
       1904-1906, Image no. 220 Thursday, 24 Mar 1904 pg. 6 column 4 Bennington News. 
   8. Email from Linda Conpenelis Schmidt stating she had found 
       Permeno Simpson listed in New York Poorhouse records while doing a search on
   9. Journal of the Board of Supervisors of Wyoming County, New York. By Wyoming County (N.Y.). 
       Board of Supervisors 1910-1912. pages 95, 97 & 200.  Available through Google Books:           at
 10. Linda Conpenelis Schmidt [See 7 above] first emailed me this information on 23 Sep 2012.  I have 
       since obtained a copy of the image at the FHL in Salt Lake City, Utah through  Source
       Citation: New York State Archives: Albany, New York; Census of Inmates in Almshouses and 
       Poorhouses, 1875-1921; Series A1978; Reel: A1978:228; No. 583. Source Information:
       New York Census of Inmates in Almshouses [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA 
       operations, Inc., 2011  Original data: New York State Board of Charities. Census of Inmates in 
       Almshouses and Poorhouses 1835-1921 Series A1978 Microfilm, 225 rolls, New York State 
       Archives, Albany, New York. Description: This database contains an indes and images of  records 
       for residents of poorhouses and almshouses in New York State. Institutions used standard form 
       that can provide rich detail on inmates. Copyright 2012, The Generation Network, Inc.
 11. "United States Census, 1910," index and images,(
       accessed 04 Oct 2012), Permeus Simpson in household of Sally Schoonover, Orangeville, 
       Wyoming, New York; citing sheet 6B, family 139, NARA microfilm publication T624, 
       FHL microfilm 1375100.  
 12. Email from Anita Hayes [see 6 above.] Email sent 25 Sep 2012.
 13. Permeo Simpson record Find A Grave Memorial #: 83595657.
       Photo by Jim and Elizabeth on 8 Jun 2012. Photo used by permission and is copyrighted. 

Additional information about the 130th New York Volunteer and the 1st Dragoons in which Parmenus W. Simpson served can be found by following these links:


Monday, October 1, 2012


Sometimes the only things left when a person leaves for the Great Beyond is the smattering of records that tells their tale.  Each tale is personal and distinct and some of them make you want to just sit down and bawl.

                                                          FINDING THE QUESTIONS

Life seems to start well enough for Parmenus W. Simpson. We first find him by name in the 1850 U.S. census living in the household with his father Parmenus Simpson and mother Elvira (Throop) Simpson.  His age is listed as 22 years old with the occupation of farmer. Also in the household are older sister Diadama age 22 and younger sister Jane C. age 10. All are listed as born in New York except his father who was born in the state of Massachusetts.1 Jane seems to disappear from view, but Diadimia is an integral part of her brother's story.

In the years between 1850 and 1860 Parmenus tied the knot as the 1860 Census finds him listed as Permenus Simpson age 30 along with wife Lucinda age 29. His occupation is again listed as farmer and amazingly he aged only 8 years in the ten years since the last census. The couple are listed just after the parents of Parmenus  W.  It is appropriate that sister, Diademia  is listed just above her brother at the top of the page.2

Soldiers from the American Civil WarLike so many other young men, Parmenus found himself serving in the Civil War. He was mustered in on 24 Aug 1862 and served in Company C of the First Dragoons.3 The First Dragoons was a cavalry unit, but when the unit was first mustered in they were known as the 130th Regiment of the New York Volunteers, an infantry unit.4  The First Dragoons were involved in many battles.  They were part of General Sheridan's Raid at Trevilian, Virginia that took place during most of June 1864. This involved them in the Battle of Travilian Station which took place on June 11 & 12. During the long raid 81 members were killed or wounded and another seven went missing.5  Parmenus W. was among the missing having disappeared during the battle. He apparently was still missing at the mustering out of his company6 on 30 Jun 1865.7

Sometime between June 1864 and 1870, Parmenus found his way home to Bennington, Wyoming, New York as he his found living there with his parents and sister Diademia.8  His name is listed as Permenos W, age 43 and  his occupation is  farm laborer.  His wife, Lucinda, is nowhere to be found. What happened to Lucinda? Did she die after applying for a widows pension in 1865?9  And why did she apply for a widows pension when Parmenus W. was, obviously, still alive?

In the 1880 census, we find Deidamia Simpson as head of household with keeping house as her occupation. Her brother Parmenas W. Simpson age 51 is living in her home.  His occupation is an Essence Peddler.10   It seems their parents must have passed sometime in the preceding ten years.  No new information is given in the 1890 United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War. It gives only his rank, compnay and name of regiment and lists him as residing in Bennington.11

The 1900 US Census index on FamilySearch lists Parmenus W. as "Parme?"; He is age 70 having been born in July of 1829. He is a day laborer and is head of family number 99. Sister, Diadimia, is living next door as head of family # 100. The index lists her as Didama Simpson, single, age 73 and being born in November of 1826. She is listed with no occupation.12

For years this was all I knew of Parmenus W. Simpson and Diademia his sister. I continued to wonder what had happened  to Lucinda Simpson along with the pension file in the National Archives in Washington D.C.?  That particular pension record seems to be missing or misplaced. Then, a couple of weeks ago I searched for Parmenus W. in the right place and the mystery began to unravel leaving in its wake a few more questions, most were soon answered.  Those answers left an ache in my heart for a man and his sister long since dead and buried. But the story of how Parmenus W. Simpson became to be known as No. 185 is a story for another blog and a chance for you to grab a hankie.

    1.  1850 US Census, New York, Wyoming, Bennington, Series: M432 Roll: 616 Page: 102 Heritage 
         Quest Online
    2.  1860 US Census, New York, Bennington, Series: M653 Roll: 884 Page: 8
    3.  New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center, Albany, New York; New York Civil War Muster 
        Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900: Archive Collection #: 13775-83: Box #: 992 Roll #: 649
        New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts. 1861-1900[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011
    4.  New York State, Military Museum and Veterans Research Center NYS Division of Military 
         Naval Affairs. 1st Dragoons Regiment Civil War. A unit history can be found at:     
    5.  Ibid: 1st Dragoons Battles and Casualties Civil War New York.
    6.  See 3 above. Some records indicate Parmenus W. Simpson was mustered out with 
         his company.  
    7.  See 4 above
    8.  "United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch 
         (   NW2 : accessed 27 Sep 2012), Permenos Simpson
         in household of Permenos Simpson, New York, United States; citing p. 3, family 21, NARA 
         microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 552618.
    9.  Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934[database on-line]Provo, UT, 
         USA: Operations Inc, 2000. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Record for 
         Parmenus W. Simpson image 3729.
   10.  "United States Census, 1880," index and images,(
          accessed 28 Sep 2012), Parmenas W. Simpson in household of Deidamia Simpson, Bennington, 
          Wyoming, New York, United States; citing sheet 77B, family 1, NARA microfilm publication 
   11.  11th Decennial Census Office. "Population Schedules of the 1890 Census." NARA microfilm 
         publication M407. National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C.; (images 
         online) New York State, Wyoming County; Parmenus W Simpson; image 12.
   12. "United States Census, 1900," index and images,( 
        accessed 28 Sep 2012), Parme? Simpson, ED 117 Bennington Township (eastern part), Wyoming, 
        New York, United States; citing sheet 4B, family 99 & Didama Simpson, ED 117 Bennington 
        Township (easterrn part), Wyoming, New York, United States; citing sheet 5A, family 100,NARA 
         microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241178.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Working on a photo project of my mother's family reminded me that a couple members of this family were more often called by their nicknames than their legal names. I had a dilemma.  Should I use their legal name or nickname when tagging the photos?  My purpose for doing this project was to share the family's photos with my grandparent's progenitors via DVD.       

Roy Rust and Harry Chapman
Grandpa was given the name Leroy "W" Rust at birth, but was also known as L. W. and R. W.  Most commonly though, he was simply called Roy.  Two descendants named for him have the name Roy somewhere in their name while only one has the full name Leroy. 
Henry Thomas Chapman, son-in-law to Roy, had the nickname of Harry.  Harry died before I was born, but as family stories were told by those who knew him, I never, ever remember them referring to him as Henry.  He was always Harry.  Even his wife's and mother's obituaries give his name as Harry, not Henry. 

I came to conclusion that if the progenitors were to get a feel for the way the family really was, they needed to know both the legal name and the nickname.  The file containing Grandpa's pictures is titled Leroy "W" Rust and the file for Harry is titled Henry Thomas Chapman.  Some of Grandpa's pictures are tagged with his full name while others just have Roy Rust.  The tag kinda depends on the individual photo.  Because there are not very many photos of Harry, I have tagged all of his photos as Henry Thomas (Harry) Chapman. 

If my mother's family had often used nicknames, what about my other ancestors?  I get so set in referring to them and searching for them with the exact names on my pedigree chart or their family group records that I forget that maybe I should be searching for them with variant names, maybe even a nickname.