Letters From Home~~Cicero, Hamilton County, Indiana

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Cast of Characters: Grace~~ My Great Grandmother Grace Louise Carson Stockmaster Orrenda~~My 2nd Great Grandmother Orrenda M. Willes Carson Della~~My 2nd Great Aunt Mary Dell Carson Criswell Allen Ral~ My 2nd Great Uncle (Great Grand Uncle) James Ralston Carson Jr., DVM … Continue reading

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Viola Carson Armstrong~~My Ancestor

Viola Carson is the great grand-aunt of Elizabeth Louise Burritt England Thurston.

Viola was born June 6, 1854 in Indiana, possibly Bartholomew, or Hamilton County. She married Frank P. Armstrong on March 3, 1873, who was born in 1851 in Indiana.   Viola’s parents were James R. and Martha Jane (Spurgin) Carson. Friends and family nick name for Martha Jane was “Jane”. Jane died on July 12, 1855 in Livingston County, Illinois. James and his three daughters came back to Hamilton County, Indiana to live on his father’s (John Carson) farm. James inherited the farm after his father passed away. In 1860, James married Orrenda Willes and lived on the farm until his death on Sept 18, 1889.

James and Martha Jane’s daughters were:

  • Mellissa (who died from a falling tree on the farm in Hamilton County, Indiana)
  • Viola
  • Emily Virginia

Viola and Frank owned a farm in Hamilton County, Indiana and raised their family. Viola’s step grandmother, Orrenda was a retired schoolteacher who was born on an island in Lake Ontario. Orrenda parents, Wilder and Orinda (Kimball) Willes moved the family to Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York. There Orrenda grew up and attended school. She graduated from Newberry Academy, in Vermont. With her teachers’ credential, she went west to Indiana to teach the pioneer children around 1860. This is where Orrenda met James.

James R. and Orrenda (Willes) children were:

  • Mary Dell
  • Edward Willes
  • Ben Wade
  • James Ralston
  • Jessie Mabel
  • Samuel Wilder
  • Grace Louise
  • Frederick Clark

Orrenda wrote many letters to all her family, and I am in possession of a few letters that survived the years.   In a letter between her daughter Grace Louise (Carson) Stockmaster, Orrenda mentioned that “Frank had “Vi”(Viola) living in the barn until the house was finished.”

Some more on Viola’s family:

  Frank and Vi’s children were:

  •   Elizabeth A (Bessie) Armstrong~~~Aug 22, 1874
  • Pearl Armstrong~~~Feb 7, 1877
  • Clara Armstrong~~Sept. 23, 1880  

Notes on Frank Armstrong:

  • Father was born in Ohio and mother born in Kentucky 1880 census
  • The Armstrong (Frank and Viola) family were living in Liberty, Wabash County, IN (1880 census)

Viola died in July 30, 1917 in Marion County, Indiana~~

Source Location: County Board of Health, Indianapolis Source notes: The source of this record is the book H-14 on page 269 within the series produced by the Indiana WPA Project.

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More on Breaking Down Brickwalls

Another prominent researcher, Nancy J Emmert suggests in breaking a brick wall is to look at patterns of migrations that ancestors may have taken, research the other family members to find clues on the ancestor who is the brick wall, and study the census while using the “ten up and ten down” rule. An example of the “ten up and ten down” rule is to look at the ten families above your ancestor in the census and then check the information for the ten families below the ancestor.  Many times a researcher may find the original ancestor’s family members living down the road or with neighbors (Emmert).

Emmert, Nancy J. “Beginning Genealogy Handout.”  Rechtman.com. 1999 Yigal Rechtman.   2 Feb. 2012 < http://www.rechtman.com/genbasics.htm>.

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Breaking Down Brick Walls

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As the researcher continues their attempt of finding their ancestors, one problem may arise. Many times the researcher runs into what genealogists call “brick walls.” Jeanne Lund of Belaugh Research Services defines a brick wall as a dead-end that a … Continue reading

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Letters From Home Part 2

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Here is a scanned letter my 2nd Great Grandmother Orrenda Willes Carson sent to my Grandfather Frederick Charles Stockmaster and Great Uncle Russell Carson Stockmaster in 1914. My Grandfather was 14 years old and my Great Uncle was 16 years old.

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Letters From Home 1st Installment

Cast of “Characters”

Mother Carson~~My 2nd Great grandmother  Orrenda Willes Carson

Grace~~My Great Grandmother Grace Louise Carson Stockmaster

Uncle Oliver~~My 2nd Great Uncle Oliver F Wills, Orrenda’s brother in Iowa

Ral~ My 2nd Great Uncle (Great Grand Uncle) James Ralston Carson Jr., DVM

Louisa~~My second great Aunt Louise Willes Clark~~Orrenda’s sister in Potsdam, New York

Hattie~~My second great Aunt Harriet Willes Yancey~~Orrenda’s sister and living in Potsdam, New York

Edwin Webster~~My third cousin~~His mother was Jessie Maybell Carson Webster~~Grace’s sister~~Orrenda’s grandson.

Bernice~~My Third cousin~~Bernice Webster Newman~~Edwin’s sister

Ora Newman~~Bernice Webster Newman’s husband

Jany~~~Lavina Jane Flannagan Carson~~Ral’s wife

All other people mentioned in this letter are neighbors, friends, and citizens of Hamilton County, Indiana circa 1915.

Dear Grace, Cicero Jan 21, 1915

Your last letter received and read with pleasure. The ground is again covered with snow and the air is cold. But the sun is shining so it is pleasanter the gloomy, dark weather. I have been very well all winter and have been out considerable except when it was icy last evening. I went to the basement of the church where one of the Sunday School classes (Clare Meeks) of young girls held a social. They made four dollars last week.

Thursday I went to the Bob Jones Meeting in Noblesville in the afternoon. He spoke to ladies only. They have a tabernacle which holds nearly three thousand and it is full nearly every service and was then we stayed till night service. He is a great preacher indeed. He speaks here tomorrow afternoon in the Methodist Church.

Your Uncle Oliver sent me a card yesterday stating that Mr. George St. Clair died last Saturday morning. He has been sick for several months. They live in Monmouth, Ill.

I wrote you that the Hinshaws had sold out in the bank here and Ed Morris, Otto Russel, Vincent Case, and Elias Noble had taken stock. Mr. Metcalf has been in as President two years Lee Teacher as cashier for several years.  Matters have not been going well for some time and people began to draw out their money quarterly. The Deputy State Auditor came out and closed the bank. People think those who have money in the bank will not lose any, but it has made quite a sensation.

I had a little in there and Ral had just put in forty dollars only yesterday morning, but he had some checks out to meet that. I hope they will open when they get the books straightened out as many think they will but matters are in a tangled mess at present. Henry Miller and wife and Alva Snider and daughter have been here again, Millers left Sunday and Sniders left yesterday. Snider has been quite prosperous and is in good circumstances and is a nice, agreeable man.

Millers have gone through all they had and will live on a rented farm when they return. Snider will return in a few days, but Millers will visit until Spring. Ral says Snider is good company, but Millers sit around and do nothing but eat. Janey has nothing to do with them now, since they have nothing.

I had a letter from Louisa yesterday. She has been poorly all winter, but Hattie is very well and has been since she went there. I gave Hattie a ‘hug-me-tite’ like mine when she was here and sent a lavender one to Louisa as a birthday present. Edwin Webster came to Noblesville with his father a week ago Saturday and slipped away from him and came here and stayed here until Sunday evening.

The Basket Ball Boys of Cicero has not been beat in fifteen games. They played with Westfield boys the night Edwin was here and beat as usual. Edwin said Bernice could not leave home for her [been] butter maker. (Ora Newman) was there two or three times a week. I only sent them Christmas Cards this year and did not even hear a word from them; Edwin said they were all well.

I have learned to make a little clover leaf edge I like and am now learning how to make little baskets. Mrs. Jenkins, our minister’s wife makes them.

Jany is over to Russels. She goes there most every morning as soon as her dishes are washed and stays till noon or time to get dinner. She seldom goes to Celie Wilson’s nor does Eilia very often come in here only on an errand never sits down unless I am alone when she will chat with me a while.

Mrs. Rickert has moved to Owen County and Perry Thach who married Pearl Seaey has moved there. Jany is quite thick with her.

There have been several cases of diphtheria but they were light and school is going on as usual. Mrs. Lanear is still very poorly does not sit up or turn herself in bed. Mrs. Beal has a nurse now. Mr. Beal has taken all care of her and done the work. The children sent the nurse. She is very poorly. Al Meinser has not been downstairs since Christmas; He has asthma and heart disease. Otto told me last night he did not think his father would ever be any better. Sallie never leaves him to go anywhere. John Edwards (Bingham Edwards) who was in the Army with Sam is very sick and not expected to live long.

We all with Henry Millers, went up to George Brights one day for dinner. That morning, Blanche phoned her Vera was very sick and she went the next morning and stayed over a week. Vera had peritonitis and was very sick. The doctor was there sixteen times at 2 dollars a visit. But when she come away she was better and with care might get well.

Galddis Dale is clerking in the store. Alf Carey and wife are in a restaurant and doing well.

The factory at Arcadia closed before Christmas because they could not sell their wares. They hope to begin again after the first of the Feb. The fires are started in the furnaces. Jany is getting a few eggs now so we have them for breakfast. They are young pidgeons nearly grown; four others are sitting. They do not use the boxes but make their nests on the floor. Ral does not have very much to do, one or two calls a day and he goes in his auto.

I am glad to hear both boys are in High School. There is another story in the Herald now, “The Return of Pollyanna” that is real good.

Now write often, I always think of your club Friday.

 Love to all Your mother Carson

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Letters From Home Cicero, Hamilton County, Indiana 1915

My second Great Grandmother, Orrenda Willes Carson, was a school teacher from Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York. Orrenda attended the Newbury Academy in Vermont, and joined the Teacher Corps organized by Gov. Slade of Vermont in the late 1800’s. Orrenda traveled to Indiana to teach the pioneer children, where she taught until 1860 when she married James R. Carson.

She raised 10 children, 8 of her own, and 2 from her husband’s first marriage.  When her children went off into the world, Orrenda, or as she calls herself “Mother Carson” wrote letters and expected replies back. I am fortunate to actually have a few letters written to my Great Grandma Grace, from her mother Orrenda. I have transcribed these few letters and found a wealth of genealogical information, plus I am able to imagine what kind of personalities my ancestors had way back when.

The next blog post will be the first installment of “Letters From Home”.


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