Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas!

             Copyright 2012, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

On this rainy December day in Arizona, a blog post is long overdue.  Today is "Blog Carol" Day, a genea-blog prompt coordinated by our genealogist friend Footnote Maven. We are to write about a favorite Christmas Carol.

Mine has got to be "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas", preferrably crooned by none other than the iconic Bing Crosby.   Having grown up in sunny Southern California where there were lots of beaches and much sunshine, but no snow, I cannot remember having ever having experienced a White Christmas as a child.  Our house did not even have a fireplace; we used one of those fake cardboard fireplaces that went up with the tree every year.  I was well into my adult years before ever being in snow at Christmas time on trips, and even those occasions were rare. Once, during a period when I lived in the Seattle, WA area for a few years, we got some lovely, soft fluffy white snow for Christmas...and that is a magical memory. Now I have lived in Arizona for many years, in an area that does not get snow, but as I write this blog entry- snow is falling up in the northern part of the state in Flagstaff.   There will soon be some snow south of us too on Mt. Lemmon near Tucson.  So, though we won't likely have a White Christmas where I live, we can take a day trip to play and experience the winter beauty.

Here are the lyrics to this favorite Christmas Carol:

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree-tops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleighbells in the snow."

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write,
"May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white".

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree-tops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleighbells in the snow."

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write,
"May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white".

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bachelor Maids Clubs, circa 1915- St Louis, Missouri: "Unwed and Loving It"

             Copyright 2013, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

Bachelor Girls Club of 1915, St. Louis, Missouri-

Among the family heirloom photos in the collection that had belonged to one of paternal aunts, is a photo depicting two of her sisters as young women with a group of their friends.  The photo is labeled: "Bachelor Girls Club of 1915", believed to have been taken in St. Louis, Missouri. The women in the photo all appear to be in their late teens or early twenties. They are all wearing fancy hats and suits that were fashionable in that time period.   My copy of this photo was made years ago on a xerox machine, long before digital photography came along, so the copy I have is not very good.  The original photo has long since been lost or packed away in storage in the estate belongings of my late aunt Lona, which passed to her son.   Her sisters "the Bachelor Girls" are in the far right of the photo. Here it is:

My aunts; the Bachelor Girls of 1915: top row, right- Gladys Harrison, age 19.  bottom row, right- Edna Harrison, age 20.

Looking at this picture peaked my curiosity about these two aunts of mine.  Ironically, both of my aunts married within a year of the above photo being taken.  But, before they were wives, they were Bachelor Girls. Just what were these "Bachelor Girls Clubs"  (or "Bachelor Maids" as they were often referred to) all about back then, anyway?  Certainly, they weren't "old maids". I knew that both of these aunts had married fairly young and raised children with their husbands.  They were both quite a bit older than their baby brother, my Dad, so I had grown up knowing them from afar simply as my elder "widowed" aunts, each old enough to be my grandmother. Looking at this photo now reminds me that each of these women had once been young, vibrant, fun-loving and free-spirited girls; before the cares of adulthood burdened their worlds.   Each woman ultimately matured to face particularly challenging lives in their later adult years, filled with much personal difficulty, serious health problems, and loss of loved ones.     But, once upon a time, they were "Bachelor Maids".

I decided to learn more about these "Bachelor Maids" clubs of the early 1900's, and take a peek into the lifestyle of my young aunts during that period of their lives.   A quick search online pointed me to this explanation offered by the Library of Congress, at :
"Bachelor maids were a cadre of single women in the late 19th, early 20th century. Not to be confused with “old maids” (or “spinsters”), these women opted to be independent of men, live on their own and manage their own business affairs. Young, unmarried women’s social groups, known as Bachelor Maids’ Clubs, began in cities such as New York and Washington, DC. Soon thereafter, smaller clubs began forming in cities and towns around the country."

"Before there were Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, there were bachelor maids – turn-of-the-century single gals opting to play by their own rules of the time. These women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries had acceptable ways to earn money and no longer regarded marriage as necessary for financial stability or for self-respect.    That's not to say that all women were against the idea of matrimony, but rather they set standards for suitors to meet and waited to marry, if they married at all.   'The Bachelor Girl does generally marry. However, I have noticed that the marriages of girls who have followed some useful and interesting business before they married turn out happiest,' said Ellen Adair in her article in the Jan. 26, 1915, issue of Philadelphia's Evening Public Ledger."-

An amusing and somewhat derisive poem was published in the Oct 11, 1896 issue of the San Francisco Call, describing the Bachelor Maid New Woman:  " She could never be persuaded to marry, Never husband shall order her life.  As for children, she never could stand them, With their noise and perpetual strife.  Yes, dear bachelor maiden new woman, The men are a despicable lot; It may be you'd refuse to marry, It may also be true that you'd not". 

Below is a photo of another of these groups, the Bachelor Maids Club of Ames, IA- circa 1895- courtesy of Ames Public 

On the other hand, the following article appeared in the January 16, 1898 issue of the San Francisco Call, describing the Bachelor Maids as a group of young ladies on the hunt for suitable husbands:  "If you wish to see a group of pretty, vivacious, intelligent and thoroughly independent nineteenth century maidens, of a true American type, just stop long enough at Cape May, New Jersey to catch a glimpse of the Bachelor Maids' Club, an association of twelve charming, marriageable young women, who have banded together to protect themselves from the unworthy members of the other sex. The perpetuation of celibacy is not contemplated, as every member is in favor of marriage, but it must be a marriage of the ideal standard set by the club.  Accordingly the twelve young men somewhere in this broad world who would willingly marry these twelve winsome misses must throw away their vices and prepare themselves to answer some questions like these:   Do you drink, or smoke, or chew, or wear a silk hat in summer with a blue suit, or lie in bed in the morning while your father shovels coal into the heater, or give expression to wicked words when you strike your thumb with a hammer?  Do you earn enough to support a wife?  Can you see a flower store without being directed to it?  Do you write love letters with a pencil?  How many cousins of the feminine gender do you have? What becomes of your temper when you lose your collar button?  Do you ride a last year's wheel?  Are you fond of ice cream and soda water and poetry?   It frequently happens that the carefully groomed and industrious young men of the wave swept city are asked to attend informal receptions and musicales, and the promptness with which they pen a reply to the daintily perfumed card of invitation is sufficient evidence in itself of the high esteem in which the Bachelor Maids Club is held". 

Apparently some of these clubs were operated as boarding houses or dormitories  for young women who had either taken jobs, or were training at some trade or vocational skill, in larger cities.  I think this scenario would probably have been applicable to both of my aunts, who were living in St Louis in 1915 while they were both members of a  "Bachelor Girls Club".  An article in the Washington, D.C. Evening Times of June 5, 1896 announced that  "A unique club for bachelor women has just been organized in Chicago.  It's headquarters will be in a large flat building on Power Avenue.  Last night, an advance guard of a dozen young women took possession of the new quarters, each proud of the possession of a latch-key.  The plan of management is this:  Each young woman who becomes a club member pays a minimum price f $3.50 per week.  For a single room the price will be from $4 to $4.50 per week.   For each suite of eight rooms there is a large double parlor, fitted up handsomely.   Besides this there is a big, plain room set apart for sewing, darning, handkerchief washing, and the like.   One feature is a large assembly room, which can be used for meetings, lectures. etc. It is also planned to allow young ladies who wish, to furnish their rooms, wholly or in part, according to their individual tastes.  The club is admirably situated as to car lines, being withing a short distance of three downtown lines".   (It is assumed this is referring to cable-car lines). 

Not all of society approved of these "Bachelor Girls", apparently. Some considered them to be rather spoiled and self-indulgent.   An article published Dec 27, 1894 in the Evening Dispatch of Provo, Utah stated: "...the blame must rest with their mothers. It is a careless, selfish, irresponsible epoch in which the daughter studies her own convenience and pleasure solely; and the mother by foolish indulgence, aids and abets her.  Once a girl is free from the trammels of the schoolroom and is fully fledged in society, nothing is denied her.  She may lie in bed, perchance take her breakfast there, while she skims a novel belonging to the 'new' order of fiction.  Her day is compassed with no single duty save to look her best and enjoy her life. "   Well, that really does not sound much different that the life of a typical teenager or young twenty-something when I was growing up, or today either for that matter.   Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, after all, and enjoy life.   Given the chance, who wouldn't want to lounge over breakfast in bed, and only rouse ourselves to receive gentlemen callers laden with gifts of flowers and poetry?  I can imagine that in their later years, when life was no longer filled with laughter and gentleman callers; my aunts would look back upon that time in their lives fondly and wistfully, longing for their carefree days among girl-friends in the Bachelor Girls Club of 1915. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Black Sheep Sunday: Bushwacker Bill Wilson

               Copyright 2012, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

William Wilson, otherwise known as "Bushwacker Bill Wilson", was my great-grand-uncle.   During the Civil War era in Missouri, he became somewhat of a legendary folk hero to the locals.    He was half-brother to my maternal great-grandfather, Valentine Allen.  They shared the same mother, my great-great-grandmother Frances Hudgens Allen.  Below is a photo that has been circulated in recent years by descendants and is purported to be a photo of Bill Wilson:

Whether or not this is a true and authentic image of the infamous Bushwacker Bill Wilson has not yet been proven or disproven.   However, my guess is that he was probably an angry-looking young man similar to the one depicted in this photo.   He lost a lot during the war, and was said to be hell-bent on revenge.  I have touched on the life of Bill Wilson in a previous post on my great-grandfather Valentine Allen.  Below is a quote from my own earlier blog post:

"Valentine 'Tine' Allen's half-brother was 'Bushwacker' Bill Wilson, son of Frances Hudgens and her first husband Valentine Wilson.   For those of you who may have seen the old Clint Eastwood film "The Outlaw Josey Wales", you will be familiar with the story of my Great-Grandpa's half-brother Bushwacker Bill, on whom the film's story is loosely based.  The Outlaw Josey Wales character is actually a composite of several known Bushwackers who lived in the area during the Civil War.  While it is true that some Bushwackers during the war were vicious murderers, such as the one known as "Bloody Bill Anderson"; others were regular family men who banded together to try to protect their families and properties during the War. Bushwacker Bill Wilson, my great-grandfather's half-brother, was one of the more sympathetic figures who actually became a folk hero in Missouri.   There was a book written about him by George Clinton Arther, entiitled: "Bushwacker, Missouri's Most Infamous Desperado".   The book is based on first-hand accounts of those who knew Bill Wilson.   The story goes that Bill was simply avenging the harm and atrocities that befell his family and property at the hands of renegade soldiers. Whether the "bad guys" were Union or Confederate soldiers is not entirely clear.   There was some wrong-doing on both sides during the war.   Missouri was technically a neutral state, but sympathies were dividied among families....some were for the Confederate cause, and others supported the Union cause.  It was not unusual for brothers within the same family to join up and fight on opposing sides during the Civil War. This happened within my own family tree.  I have not found a record that Tine Allen served in the military during the Civil War, though several other ancestors and relatives living in the area at the time did serve." 

Here is a quote from Eastwood's character in the movie based loosely on the life of my ancestor.  
 Josey Wales:   "Now remember, things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean.  I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. Cause if you lose your head and give up then you neither live nor win.  That's just the way it is".  

As far as I know thus far, it has never been proven where or when Bill Wilson died and is buried.  Similar to the character of Josey Wales portrayed in the Clint Eastwood movie, Bill Wilson did in fact take an Indian wife.   He married Mary Ann Noaks, who had native American ancestry.  Some of the stories have Bill Wilson being shot and killed in Texas, and buried there.   Other stories have him returning to his home area in Phelps County, Missouri after the war, and living in hiding in the same remote hill-country caves he used during the Civil War when going about his bushwacking business. Some believe that he faked his own death in Texas and sent a letter to his wife supposedly from a third party, advising of his own alleged demise, to throw his pursuers off the trail. The letter was to be used by Mary Ann to "prove" his death.     There is supposedly a document signed by Mary Ann Noaks Wilson on April 15, 1865; a copy of which has been posted and circulated on, in which Mary Ann gives her statements indicating that Bill Wilson enlisted in the Rebel Army when the war fist broke out, then returned in about a year and took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States Government; (as locals were required to do or be subject to arrest by the Union Army), then came home again and "Staid for only one hour and she has not seen him since".   Mary Ann was apparently arrested by Union Soldiers as being suspected of hiding and aiding her husband, and the document was her recorded statement alleging that she knew nothing about the whereabouts of Bill Wilson at that time. 

Below are photos of Gourd Creek Cave in Phelps County, Missouri; where Bushwacker Bill Wilson was known to hide out during and after the Civil War.       Here is a photo of the cave as it looks today, taken by cousin and fellow genealogy family-tree researcher Terry Cadenbach on April 24, 2012: 

Below is a photo of some of the extended Allen-Wilson-Noaks clan descendants and kin posing in front of the same Gourd Creek Cave, some time after the Civl War (circa 1870-1880).  The below family photo was published in the book, "Bushwacker: Missouri's Most Infamous Desperado" written by descendant George Clinton Arthur in 1938.  The book and it's contents are now in the public domain, as the author has been dead for more than 50 years. 

Bill wilson's wife  Mary Ann Noaks Wilson remarried and is buried at Brookshire Cemetery in Spring Creek, Phelps County, Missouri. She is listed on the Find A Grave website at under Memorial# 40032604.  Below is a photo of Mary Ann in her later years, with her second husband John Jackson, that has been shared by WIlson-Noaks-Jackson descendants:

Below is a photo taken by my family tree cousin, Terry Cadenbach, in 2012 of the  memorial marker placed in recent years by descendants of Mary Ann Noaks and Bushwacker Bill Wilson at the cemetery in Phelps County,Missouri.   Some believe that Bill Wilson rests there too, nearby to Mary Ann and her 2nd husband, in an unmarked grave. There are several very old monuments and stones in this cemetery, with mostly now illegible inscriptions.  One of those stones is surrounded by an old wrought-iron fence.   Some believe that could be the original final resting place of either Mary Ann Noaks Wilson (Jackson) or of Bushwacker Bill Wilson.  In honor of their memory, the below depicted memorial stone has been placed nearby in more recent years by an unknown descendant(s):

I had ancestors who fought for both the north and the south, on both the maternal and paternal sides of my tree. In fact, a few of my ancestors and kin in Missouri spent time in military prisons during the Civil War, simply for being suspected of being Confederate sympathizers.   It truly was a brother-against-brother and kin-against-kin conflict in American history and in my own family tree. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Surname Saturday: CATLETT

               Copyright 2012, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

One of the surnames in my tree that I will be focusing on researching further in the coming year is CATLETT.

Mary Jane Catlett (1738-1812) was one of my 4x-great-grandmothers. She married Moses Aaron Coppedge (1735-1801), on 26 July 1764 in Fauquier County, Virginia. Around 1780, they went to live in Kentucky, traveling in a party led by Daniel Boone (according to the book written by Arthur Max Coppage and John E. Manahan:  “Coppage-Coppedge Chronicle, 1542-1975, (pg 262).   Mary Jane Catlett Coppedge died in Washington County (now Marion County), Kentucky in 1812.  Although she has a memorial page on the Find A Grave website (Find A Grave Memorial# 73125083), her exact burial location is unknown.  She MAY be buried at Old Liberty Cemetery near Bradfordsville, Marion County, Kentucky.  An alternate burial  location could be the Coppage Cemetery on private property in Marion County, Kentucky.

Mary Jane Catlett was the daughter of John Catlett (circa 1705- 1788) and Mary Ann Grayson (circa 1705-1790), my 5x-great-grandparents. John Catlett’s Will, proved 23 March 1778 in Faquier County, Virginia, left to his “loving daughter Jane Coppage, my roan mare and colt, with my Saddle and Bridle, and my black walnut folding  table”  from his estate.  John Catlett had married Mary Ann Grayson on 20 October 1726 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

Below is a page from the book entitled "A history of Two Virginia Families Transplanted From County Kent, England. Thomas Baytop, Tenterden, 1638, and John Catlett, Sittingbourne, 1622." By Dr. and Mrs. William Carter Stubbs. Published 1918 in New Orleans, La .

The following research was posted by Bev Loomis to her public family tree Byrd/Alsbury/Sonnichsen/Hallum and Related Families on, and is based on information she transcribed from the Will of John Catlett of Virginia, descendant of the Colonel John Catlett of Sittingbourne, Kent, England who immigrated to Virginia:
“In his will John Catlett refers to his plantation, 3,000 pounds of crop tobacco, a “Flock of cattle,” horses, a weaving loom, and walnut furniture, so we can surmise that he was a moderately successful tobacco farmer.  He wills to daughter Elizabeth “two white boys until they arrive at the age of 21 years, which boys were purchased for me with their father and mother.”  These were probably indentured servants who had been purchased for a fixed period of time.  No slaves were named in the will, although the labor-intensive crop of tobacco required many workers.”

“John Catlett’s children (their birth years are approximate), as named in his 1778 will, were:
1.                   William Catlett, born about 1739
2.                   Alexander Catlett (of Catlettsburg), about 1748-1823, married Susannah Beall
3.                   John Catlett (of Georgia)
4.                   Elizabeth Catlett, born about 1733, married David Marrow
5.                   Mary Ann Catlett, born about 1737, married John Hogan
6.                   Jane (Mary Jane) Catlett, about 1738-1815, married Moses Coppedge/Coppage
7.                   Barsheba Catlett, born about 1744, married Senate Young
8.                   Frances Catlett, about 1754-1818, married George Priest 
9.                   Isabell Catlett, born about 1757, married Mr. Summers”

It is believed that the parents of this John Catlett are John William Catlett (circa 1690- 1770) and Joan Lettico (circa 1695- 1748), of Frederick County, Virginia. (Further research pending to verify the lineage it is on my Genealogy To-Do List for 2012).  As is often the case with our ancestors, there were multiple “John Catlett”s and “William Catlett”s in Virginia in this time period.

 The progenitor and immigrant ancestor to America of this particular Catlett line is Colonel John Catlett (circa 1622- 1680) of Sittingbourne, Kent, England who immigrated to Rappahannock, Virginia about 1650.  Colonel Catlett married Elizabeth Underwood Slaughter, widow of Colonel Francis Slaughter, in January 1656 in Rappahannock, Virginia. He may also have had one other wife, a Mary Lucas, though as yet in my research no marriage record has been found of that union.

There is an interesting historical marker in Virginia, which indicates that in 1670 Colonel John Catlett accompanied the 3rd Expedition of John Lederer's company to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains region and view the Shenandoah Valley  of Virginia and the Carolinas. The records of Colonel Catlett seem to trail off there, indicating that he may have perished during this expedition or shortly thereafter. This is part of my research plan, “to be continued”.