Maw’s Purse

The pursuit of my family history has been a wonderful journey. Not only have I found new cousins, but have reconnected with cousins I haven’t seen for many years. My cousin Carla is one of those cousins. She is the daughter of my father’s sister Helen. Carla was closer to my age then other cousins so it was natural for us to play together. Not too long ago I visited Carla. We had not seen each other for many years. I had anticipated that Carla might have pictures that I didn’t have and I had pictures to share with her. Unbeknownst to me, she had a treasure in her possession, maw’s purse.


Maw’s Purse

As I mentioned in an earlier post about Ruberta, my paternal grandmother, she was not a warm and fuzzy person. In fact she came across as a cold. I really didn’t know her and, in the half-dozen times we visited her, I was never to know why she was unable to show the slightest bit of warmth to me or my brother. It is only through talking to my cousins, and finding records about her, that I have come to understand her better.

Maw knew heartache. She lost her father, Aub Hood, about the age of fourteen. Not too long after that she married John Wayson, a man who was forty-one years of age. By today’s standards it’s hard to understand how her mother could allow her marry someone twenty-seven years her senior. The family was poor so perhaps marrying her off provided one less mouth to feed. The marriage didn’t last as Ruberta was back with the family in 1910.

On March 12, 1913, Maw was married to my grandfather William Everett Lane. Between 1914 and 1924 six children were born to the couple. Life was difficult. The great depression was going strong, beginning in 1924 and ending in 1939. Jobs were difficult to come by. Grandpa Lane was a carpenter and through the years the children picked cotton to supplement the family income.

The life of the family changed on June 4, 1939 when Will was instantly killed when his car was struck by a Greyhound bus. There was a settlement with the bus company that provided some relief to Maw, but I’m sure she would have given anything to have Will back with the family.

Tragedy struck again when my uncle Vernon was killed aboard a ship that was hit by a Kamikaze plane in the Pacific Ocean close to the end of the war. Maw had lost her husband and her son in the span of six years.

When Carla brought out Maw’s purse, I was amazed at the discoveries waiting for me. The purse was stuffed, and I do mean stuffed, with what appeared to be every receipt that Maw received during her lifetime. There was a receipt for a car that Grandpa Lane purchased in 1922; an Overland automobile that was already fifteen years old at the time he purchased it.

There were receipts for lumber, windows, doors, nails, and other items for use in the building of houses. There were insurance receipts, a delayed marriage certificate, grandpa’s social security card, mortgage papers; receipts that obviously meant something to Maw.

And the most poignant treasures in the purse were four letters from Vernon written to Maw while he was at sea in the Pacific Ocean. Written two weeks before he died close to the end of the war, he was responding to the fact that Maw had visited his wife Evelyn and two sons recently. In his letter he said, “Did you think the boys had growed [sic] very much? I would give anything in the world to see them but I guess it will be some time yet before I get to see them.”

He told Maw there was nothing to worry about. Was he trying to reassure himself that he would be fine as he wrote those letters to comfort her? We will never know. The saddest of all was the telegram advising Maw of his death at sea; the words so black and final upon that piece of paper.

The letters have been reunited with Vernon’s sons. My cousin Dick, who was a baby when Vernon died, told me after reading the letters he felt, for the first time, he was hearing his father’s words.

Perhaps Maw had so much loss in her life that she kept herself at arm’s length from people to insulate herself from extreme loss again. Did the receipts from her life somehow give her a feeling of closeness to the events that represented her life and the loved ones she had lost? Whatever the reasons, the contents in Maw’s purse assured me that she was a feeling woman, just not one to wear her heart upon her sleeve.

July is Blackberry Picking in the Midwest

Blackberries 1024

The extreme heat of this July has resurrected memories of blackberry picking of my childhood. Long before I ever picked my first berry my mother had spent many a summer in the county of her birth picking the deep purple, luscious fruit with her mother and siblings. Most likely out of need, the Schwegler family would travel to Maries County, Missouri where they would visit with family. In July, when the fruit ripened, they would don their “picking” outfits and go to their favorite thicket of bushes and spend several hours filling their buckets to the brim. Long-sleeved shirts and pants were called for or long, angry scratches were the result of reaching into the brambles for those plum morsels of blackberry goodness. After the trek, hours were spent in the kitchen brewing jars of blackberry jams and jellies that would last into the next year.

 My family spent many summer weekends traveling to Osage County where my grandfather, Wright Schwegler, had a clubhouse on the Gasconade River. My mother continued the tradition of picking blackberries. And oh how I hated that tradition. I can’t think of anything worse than putting on long sleeves and pants and hiking in the heat of July. Our picking crew consisted of my mom, my brother Bill, and me. My dad would drive us to the same location every year since my mom didn’t drive. We would hike up a long hill to a massive thicket of Blackberry brambles hiding their jewels among their thorns. By the time we would get there, I would be soaked in sweat; not a comfortable feeling for a city-bred, teen-aged girl. No matter how hard I tried I still wound up with long slivers of red scratches on my arms, despite the long-sleeves, and my hands were covered with wounds from the long thorns of the bushes. I don’t ever recall my mother making jams or jellies so we must have eaten the fruit over the course of the next few days.

 Some of my best memories of those days at the clubhouse include warm salads made with fresh greens and tomatoes picked from my grandfather’s garden smothered in Viva Italian dressing. A short walk up the road would result in fresh ears of corn to be boiled and slathered with butter. And best of all, catfish tails from the fish caught on the trotlines from the night before were covered in corn-meal and deep-fried to golden perfection. My brother and I weren’t allowed to eat the other meat of the fish; it had to be the tails since my mother was afraid we would choke on the bones from the other parts of the fish. There were many things we weren’t able to do, which is a testament to my mother’s will to see us safely through our childhood.

 Unfortunately, the tradition of blackberry picking wasn’t passed on to my sons. Today, if one wants, you can have blackberries on the menu most days as they are grown all over the world and shipped to the United States for consumption. I’m not sure the blackberries we get today are as good as those picked straight from the source, but they sure are easier to come by. And despite being uncomfortable, I still have fond memories of those days so many years ago spent with my family in pursuit of blackberries ripened in July.  


Finding Edgar Lane and Doing the DNA Happy Dance

Edgar Lane lived a short life. And he was my great-grandfather. He was born to John C. and Marietta (Vaughn) Lane about 1878 or 1879 most likely in Dyer County, Tennessee.

I searched for Edgar in census records for a long time. And finally I found him in 1880 living in Crockett County, Tennessee in the home of George Vaughn, enumerated as G. W. Maugham¹. Edgar was between the age of one and two years of age. His brother Isaac was four months old. Their mother, Marietta, had died before the census was taken leaving their father John with two very young children.

Like all good genealogists I questioned many times whether I had the correct person; there were so few documents for Edgar. One day, while looking for Lane’s and Vaughn’s in Crockett County on the website, I found a link to people who were listed as contacts for surnames. This led me to Jean, my genealogy angel. She was listed as a contact for the Vaughn family surname. I took a chance and emailed her. And lucky me, she replied back. In the beginning we shared family stories, and the more we communicated, the more we felt that there was a family connection. A year later I sent my DNA to FamilyTree and eagerly awaited the results. The happy dance commenced when I found that Jean was listed as one of my matches. I was on the right track.


Tonya (left) with genealogy angel and cousin, Jean in Crockett County, Tennessee.

Edgar married Minnie Mae Perry on 19 July 1894 in Crockett County.² He was about fifteen, which seems very young to be married. A year later, my grandfather, William Everett Lane, was born. Why did he marry at an early age? Perhaps his age was incorrectly enumerated, perhaps he was a wild child, or people just got married at a young age back then. We may never know.

A relative told me that Edgar liked to gamble and disappeared one day. Speculation was that he owed someone money and wound up in the river as fish-food; a gruesome thought. Or it’s possible he was one of those men who shirked their responsibility by leaving their families and taking up a new identity somewhere else in the United States.

Life went on for Minnie Mae and their son William Everett. She married Sam Cosey in 1901. In a probate document recorded in June 1906, after the death of George Vaughn, was the sentence “Due on settlement to be equally divided between Minton Vaughn and the Lane minor heir of Edgar Lane deceased.”³  All of the clues, plus the DNA, have confirmed to me that indeed John and Marietta Lane and George Vaughn are my ancestors.

I was fortunate to meet my genealogy angel, and cousin, Jean  last year when she and her husband Jim met me in Crockett County. They took me to the location where the Vaughn homestead once stood and to Lebanon Church Cemetery where Richard Vaughn, my gggg-grandfather, and other Vaughn family members are buried. She has been so kind in sharing her well-researched genealogy with me.

And recently I enjoyed another happy dance. I located a cousin, via DNA and that connects me to John Lane. Life is good!

If anyone has information about this cast of characters that are my ancestors please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

My Lane genealogy line is:

Great, Great-Grandfather, John Lane b. abt. 1859, d. abt. 1898
married Marietta Vaughn b. 1860, d. abt. 1880

Great-Grandfather, Edgar Lane b. abt. 1879, d. abt. 1898
married Minnie Mae Perry b. 26 Feb 1875, d. 13 Dec 1863

Grandfather, William Everett Lane b. 13 Jun 1895, d. 5 Jun 1939
married Ruberta Hood b. 14 Oct 1894, d. 5 Feb 1969

Father, Talmadge Hollis Lane b. 21 Nov 1914, d. 22 Jan 1993
married Bonnie Lee Schwegler b. 25 Mar 1927, d. 29 Jun 2002



¹1880 U.S. census, Crockett County, Tennessee, population schedule, Maury City, enumeration district (ED) 007, sheet 240-C, dwelling 121, family 121, George Maugham (Vaughn) household, digital image, ( : accessed 11 Mar 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1249.

²Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, indexed database and digital images, ( : accessed 14 Jun 2015), Crockett, 1894, image 3 of 4 : Edgar Lane to Minnie Mae Perry.

³Crockett, Tennessee, Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927, 3: 235, George W. Vaughn; FHL film 179819001, Image 415 of 524, Settlement record for George Vaughn.


Sam Had His Fifteen Minutes of Fame

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” [I]

Andy Warhol

Sam had his fifteen minutes of fame. He was ahead of the times. Sam was a duck, my duck. He was one of those Easter presents given to children back in the 1950s. My brother Bill was given a duck too. I’m sure the gifts were the result of Bill and me begging for the ducks. There probably was very little expectation on the part of our parents that our ducks would survive. Bill’s duck died within a short period of time, but Sam survived and thrived. The practice of giving ducks and chicks to kids is frowned upon today for good reason.

Baby Pekin Duck

By Jimpingmaniac – Own work, Public Domain,

I was about twelve when Sam was given to me. Sam was a creamy, white domesticated male duck, a Pekin Duck. Full grown he was about two and a half feet tall. We kept Sam in an area between our house and the fence of our next door neighbor. Anyone who knows about ducks and chickens know that they are not the cleanest animals. Being a child of twelve I never thought of the implications of keeping a duck penned so closely to our neighbors; they were saints. And most likely my dad was the one who kept the pen clean, because I didn’t.

Toward the end of the 50s and the 60s, several St. Louis-based TV shows geared toward children were being aired; shows like Cookie and the Captain, Captain 11, and Texas Bruce. One of these programs, unfortunately I can’t remember which one, featured pets. You could send in a picture of your pet, and if they chose yours, you could take your pet onto the program. Dogs, cats, turtles, and a host of other pets were paraded across the TV set with the camera following close behind. I was so in love with Sam that, with the help of my parents, I sent off a picture to the TV station with hopes they would find Sam so alluring that they would invite me to the program to show him off.

Lane, Talmadge and Sam the Duck - 2

My dad, Tom Lane and Sam. Not the best picture.

I recall coming home from school one day to the news that my duck had been chosen to appear on the show. The day arrived. I was so excited. My dad prepared a box, with holes, to transport Sam to the station. I’m sure my mom did her best to make me as pretty as I could be. So off we went me, my dad, and Sam in his box. The first thing we did when we got to the station was to take Sam out of his box for the television staff to preview. Sam quacked, waddled around; he was so cute. But unfortunately he left a “present” on the floor. The immediate decision was made that Sam had to stay in his box when he and I went on air. Sam had his debut, but no one could see the full glory of this fellow viewed from above looking down on him. Where other kids could parade their pets around my pet had to stay in his box. Talk about being disappointed.

We kept Sam for about two years. He had a tendency to bite me. If you have ever been bitten by a duck you know it hurts. I don’t know if my dad got tired of cleaning out Sam’s pen or the fact that he was beginning to be aggressive, but the decision was made that Sam had to go. One Saturday morning my dad put him in the car and took him to a “farm.” I always had my suspicions that he was being taken somewhere to be someone’s dinner, but my parents assured me he would be happy in a farm setting with other ducks.

So you see, my duck had his fifteen minutes of fame long before Andy Warhol penned the phrase. He surely was a duck ahead of the times.


[i] 15 minutes of fame. (2016, April 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:08, May 16, 2016, from fame&oldid=714389059




Remembering Lola and Hattie Pope on Mother’s Day





Hattie and Lola Pope were sisters who grew up on the edge of the prairie near Fort Scott, Kansas. Born nine years apart, their father and mother were William David Pope and Elizabeth Ellen Smith. Down the road from them lived two brothers, Walter and Thomas Ferguson. Their parents were Thomas Bunn Ferguson and Mary Elizabeth Baker. The two families were destined to be intertwined when Lola married Tom and Hattie married Walter.

Lola, the younger sister, married early at the age of eighteen. Hattie married at the age of thirty-two. They were both tiny women. In a time when babies were born at home, Lola delivered six children; one died in infancy. Hattie delivered three children; all died. We don’t know if the children died at birth or in infancy, but how sad for Hattie. And while her children thrived, it must have been sad for Lola to see her sister lose one child after another.

Mother’s Day became a national holiday in 1914 and by the mid-1920s people were wearing red or white carnations to honor or remember their mothers. On Mother’s Day, Lola’s children wore a red carnation to church to honor her and a white one to remember her in later years after she was gone. While Hattie was loved by her husband and extended family, no children would wear a red or white flower for her. Was Hattie sad to know there would be no child to remember her when she was gone? Perhaps she was, or perhaps she accepted what life gave her.

Today people are more likely to send their mothers flowers for Mother’s Day or get together as a family to honor Mom. Hattie and Lola are gone, as are my mother Bonnie and my mother-in-law Betty. So Happy Mother’s Day. We love and miss you everyday. And this white rose is a symbol of our remembrance, especially for you Hattie, you are not forgotten.

Dying the Good Death … James Madison Pope

“Do not save your loving speeches for your friends till they are dead. Do not write them on their tombstones. Speak them rather now instead.”    

                                                                                                                                 Anna Cummins

In another post, I provided information about the early life of James Madison Pope. James and his family lived in Blue Mound Township in Macon County, Illinois. James, and his brother Zachariah, gave their lives for their country in a war where brother fought brother.

James’ father Dempsey Pope, and his mother Sarah Edwards Pope had moved to the area in 1827 when James was about three years old. When the family moved there, little did they know that in the future the United States would be torn apart and their family would be changed forever.

Blue Mound is about forty miles from Springfield, the capital of Illinois and fourteen miles from Decatur, the Macon county seat. I can’t help but think that the Pope’s were very aware of the local politics. Abraham Lincoln lived just west of Decatur and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846. Being of voting age, it’s very possible that James may have cast a vote for Lincoln in that election.  Lincoln did not run for a second term but over several years he was very involved in politics eventually running for and winning the presidential election of 1860.’

As James farmed on his quiet acreage in Macon County, Illinois, the union of the United States was slowly falling apart. During the 1860 presidential election, Southern leaders began to lay the framework for secession in the event that a Republican president was elected. After Lincoln was elected, Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861; and thus the Civil War began.

Pope, Zachariah Picture_2

Zachariah Pope, private, 115th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry

The expectation was that the war would end within ninety days with the North being victorious. As the war continued for over a year, in July of 1862, President Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers. The call was quickly followed by another request for 300,000. In his book, History of the 115th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Isaac Henry Clay Royse wrote, “The later calls came to men of homes and families who loved the quiet of their firesides to go forth in defense of home and country ; to men who had much to sacrifice. The answer came quickly and with enthusiasm, and the cry ran through all the North, ‘We are coming, Father Abraham, 600,000 strong.’ Companies and regiments came forth as by magic. In the midst of their harvests farmers stopped their machines and laid down their implements to go to the recruiting rally, and there enlist for three years or the duration of the war.”²  In answer to that call, James joined the 115th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company E, on the 13th of August as a sergeant. His brother Zachariah answered the call as well and joined the same day as a private. Willis, the brother born between James and Zachariah, stayed home, most likely to continue to farm his land and help his mother and the wives of James and Zachariah.

Orders came for the recruits to report to Camp Butler on the 25th of August. Tears flowed as the recruits boarded a train on the Illinois Central Railroad  that took them on a ten-mile ride to Decatur, Illinois. Another thirty-five mile ride on the Great Western Railroad took them to Camp Butler where the regiment was officially mustered in.

On the 4th of October the regiment was loaded onto trains that eventually took them to Cincinnati, Ohio where they were marched across the Ohio River to Covington, Kentucky. A good portion of their day was spent on company and battalion drills. From the 18th of October to the 23rd the men marched to Falmouth. On the morning of the 24th they continued their march to Lexington, arriving on October 28th. Rain and snow greeted them along the way.

On the 13th of November the regiment was ordered to Richmond, Kentucky. The march took a heavy toll on the regiment. By the time they arrived in Richmond, one-hundred and fifty were sick. Soldiers sleeping on beds of straw placed on the damp ground contributed to the sickness.  Again, Isaac Royce wrote, “The doleful funeral march was heard almost daily, and many of our most valued men were left in the Danville Cemetery…Measles was the greatest scourge. Great numbers were so afflicted, and many cases turning into pneumonia proving fatal. At one time nearly two-thirds of the regiment were in the hospital or on the sick list in camp.”³

Zachariah Pope was one of the soldiers who died in a hospital in Lexington, dying of measles. James died of measles and cardiac obstruction at a regiment hospital in Danville. So where does dying the good death come in? People of that era expected that if they lived well into their adulthood they would die the good death by dying peacefully at home, among loving family. They would be able to get their affairs in order and, upon death, transition into the hereafter.

The Pope family was lucky. Nearly one-half of the Civil War dead were never identified and many were buried far from home. The bodies of James and Zachariah made it home, most likely by train. James is buried in the Hall Cemetery in Blue Mound. In September of 1938, a military headstone was placed upon his grave. Zachariah is buried in Pope Cemetery in Blue Mound. A military headstone was also placed upon his grave in June of 1938.

Fortunately Dempsey left this earth before he saw fate take two of his sons. But the living were left bereft of their loved ones. Poor Sarah, she lost two sons within a month of each other. Louisa and her six sons, one a baby, were left without their beloved James. Emily, Zachariah’s wife, was left without a father for her children.

I can’t help but wonder would the Pope men have joined the Confederacy had they grown up in North Carolina, the state of their parents birth? Did the fact that they lived so close to the political activity in Macon County have a bearing on their quick response to Abraham Lincoln’s call to defend the Union and their subsequent deaths? We can’t answer those questions, but so we don’t forget, let’s speak of James Madison and Zachariah Pope and all of the others who lost their lives too soon in a war that tore our nation apart.


¹Abraham Lincoln. (2016, April 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:49, April 20, 2016, from

²Isaac Henry Clay Royse, History of the 115th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Regiment, PDF download, Internet Archive ( : downloaded 19 Apr 2016), 12.

³Ibid., 46

James Madison Pope…The Early Years

James Madison Pope, my husband’s great-great-grandfather, was born on August 16, 1824 in Robertson County, Tennessee. His father Dempsey Pope, and his mother Sarah Edwards Pope, left Wake County, North Carolina and settled in Robertson County. Apparently things did not work out because the family was on the move again. The Popes settled in Blue Mound Township on the Mosquito Creek. The land was rolling and fertile. A good portion of the land was in timber. Despite the possibility that Mosquito Creek was named for the critters that bred there, the family thrived in their new home.

James was one of four boys and eight daughters born to Dempsey and Sarah. By 1840, when James was sixteen, five of his older sisters were out of the house leaving the four brothers and three sisters to help with the farm. Dempsey and Sarah were aging and needed all the help that they could get, especially from William who was eighteen and James who was sixteen.

On November 4, 1847 James married Louisa Hanna Taylor. He was twenty-three and she was eighteen. During the first year of marriage, on the October 8, 1848, their first son William David Pope was born. Within three years this young couple had a thriving farm of twenty-five acres of improved land and fifty-five acres of unimproved land. Perhaps the land was from his father; no document of him purchasing this land has been found by me.

Corn field, Library of Congress

From Library of Congress

The land and sweat of their brow provided much of what the family needed to live. Chores on the farm were well-defined. The men took care of the tilling and harvesting of the crops while the women took care of the children, cows, pigs, and the garden. The Popes had a few cows, fifteen sheep, and forty hogs. No doubt the six hundred bushels of Indian corn James tended were to feed the family and livestock. In addition to corn, the farm produced thirty bushels of wheat and thirty bushels of oats. Their orchards provided them with products worth one-hundred and fifty dollars that they could use to barter for items the farm didn’t produce. Louisa oversaw the production of molasses, beeswax, honey, and butter. Their farm was small, but James and Louisa were able to provide a good life for their growing family.

Over the course of the next ten years five sons were born to James and Louisa. Thomas John was born July 28, 1851, Charles Willis was born May 22, 1853, Millard Fillmore was born August 6, 1856, James Franklin was born July 5, 1858, and Zachariah Taylor was born January 17, 1862. James was a very patriotic man. Their only daughter Sarah, the namesake for James’ mother, was born and died in February of 1861.

Illinois Central Flyer_Chronicling America

James would have seen a poster like this telling of the land sale by the Illinois Central Railroad. From Chronicling America

James’ prosperity continued to grow. In November of 1854 he added eighty acres of land that he purchased from the Illinois Central Railroad Company. On the same day his brother Willis purchased eighty acres of land next to his.

In 1860 the sheep were gone from the farm but the number of hogs had increased to one-hundred and twenty. James had increased the number of cows he owned to fifteen. He had increased the production of wheat to three-hundred and fifty bushels, Indian corn to five thousand bushels, oats to one-hundred fifty bushels, and had added fifty bushels of rye to the mix.

It’s clear that James needed help. His five boys ranged in age from two to eleven. During that era children were expected to help out at an early age. So William, Thomas, and Charles would most likely help with the fields, perhaps planting seeds, weeding, and binding wheat in the fall. Milking was considered “women’s work” but, since Louisa had no daughters to help, the boys would have been pressed into milking the cows and helping with the pigs. As the boys grew older they would plow, chop wood, split rails, and build fences.¹ The agriculture census of 1860 was very telling. It appears that the family no longer produced molasses, honey, or beeswax. Perhaps it was an over-site of the census enumerator, or, perhaps Louisa had too much to do to produce these items for barter. At any rate this family worked hard to provide for their living.

James and Louisa lived in a time when the United States was in turmoil. Slavery and states’ rights were issues whose discussions were a crescendo of sound eventually ending in a huge clash of noise that exploded into the Civil War. This couple was caught up in this clash that would not end well for their family or the United States.




¹Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Every Day Life, 1798-1840 (New York, New York: Harper & Row, 1988)

²Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USF34-040143-D

³Chronicling America, Printed Ephemera Collection, Portfolio 17, Folder 33