Family Friends Friday ~ Florence Grace Miller

Florence Miller and Karen

Florence and Karen

Christmas always brings back memories of childhood for me.  When I was a young child we sometimes spent Christmas at my grandparents farm in Iowa.  There was an older lady that lived in their house, named Florence.  I loved Florence.  She lived downstairs in the large farmhouse and my grandparents lived upstairs.  She spoiled me just like my grandparents did.  I remember spending time with her; she would read to me patiently and I am sure this is where I caught my love for reading.  I also remember she loved birds. She had a cuckoo clock and she had bird albums she would play on her record player.  And every Christmas she would give us really big Christmas presents.  I remember one year we couldn’t make the trip from Oklahoma to Iowa so she mailed us our gifts.  The box was really big and at the bottom of the box was about an inch of hard candy.

Florence and Karen

Florence and Karen

I was really the only grandchild that really knew Florence.  She died in January of 1979.  My brother was 4 and I was 7; none of the other kids were born yet.  But, although Florence never married and had kids of her own, she was also grandma to my mom and her siblings.  I have heard a lot of stories about Florence over the years in my mom’s memories.  So this year I thought maybe I would write them down and share them.  I worry that, after me, future generations might not know about Florence.  Even most genealogists might miss her because they usually focus on their direct lines.  It saddens me to think that the world might forget such a sweet generous lady.

Florence 1964

Florence 1964

Florence Grace Miller was born July 21, 1899 in Morley, Iowa.  She was the only child of Henry Delbert “Del” and Elizabeth “Myrtle” Farnham Miller.  They had a son in 1892 that died as an infant.  Del was a farmer and by the time of his death in 1946 he owned five farms.  For work, Florence was a teacher.  In the 1940 census she is renumerated as a public school teacher and lodger in Nichols, Muscatine, Iowa.  After her dad died she was a teacher in Morley at the high school and later was the superintendent.  Florence lived at home after her father’s death, remained single, and she took over management of the farms.  She rented out the home farm to my Grandpa and when Grandpa married they moved into the farmhouse with Florence and her mom, Myrtle.  After my mom and some of her siblings came along Florence had the farmhouse renovated so that the upstairs was a full apartment and that is where my grandparents lived.    Florence was a constant presence in the life of my mother and her younger siblings.  She taught my mom and her sisters to play piano.  She enjoyed gardening and took in every stray cat that came to the farm.

When preparing for this post I asked my aunts for memories they had of Florence.  Birds was a common theme.  She even gave the girls bird models to build and learn the different kinds of birds.  And they also mentioned her love for stray animals.  And they remembered that Florence hated loud storms and would ask the girls to come down and keep her company while they were on.  My Aunt Jan said it best though.  She said “She always encouraged me no matter what…. she thought I could do anything I wanted.”  I wish everyone could have a Florence in their lives.

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Friday’s Faces From the Past – Amelia Bick

Amelia Bick – Charles Edward Tracy’s first teacher in sod school house District 27, York, Nebraska

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Workday Wednesday – Charles Edward Tracy – Railroad man

Charles Edward Tracy worked on a railroad gang in Nebraska for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy rail line.  These pictures and work cards were his and are now in the possession of his daughter Alice Tracy Sienknecht.

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Charles Edward Tracy

Charles Tracy 1893 OPCharles Edward Tracy was the seventh and youngest child of John Edward and Maria Artlysia (Boblett) Tracy.  He was born December 5, 1872 in McLean, Illinois.  He was just a toddler when the family moved to Nebraska and attended school in a sod schoolhouse in York, Nebraska during his younger years.  

He married Lizzie Shepherd, November 12, 1896 in York, Nebraska.  The information I have says they were divorced (I do not have any source on this though).  

He next married Ella Blood, April 27, 1904 in West Point Wisconsin.  Charles and Ella lived in York, Nebraska and had five children:  John Edward (1905), Rosco Raymond (1910-1917), Alvin Royal (1913), Pauline Sarada (1918), and Alice May (1920).  I was able to spend some time this spring getting to know Alice.  She is a family historian as well and we had a great time swapping research and stories.  Charles Tracy Family0001

Sometime before 1930, Ella and Charles were divorced.  Charles married Vine Whitbeck Rhodes, August 23, 1930 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She was six years older than him and she died in 1952.  

Charles made his career working for the Chicago, Burlington &  Quincy railroad working on a bridge gang.  Charles died July 12, 1955 in York, Nebraska and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery there.  

His second son died as a child but John Edward, Alvin Royal and Pauline Sarada all lived and died in California and Alice lives in Colorado.

And on a fun note – my grandma gave me an old brown hat once when I was visiting her.  She said it had been her Uncle Charlie’s.  I still have that hat and it looks just like the one Charles is holding.

World War I Draft Registration Cards 19171918-22-1

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My Story

IMG_0346This past Spring I entered an essay in a nearby Genealogy Society’s Essay Contest.  It was supposed to be about us, our story.  I never heard back about my essay, I assume that means I didn’t win, but I thought I’d post it here instead of wasting it.  LOL.

Rosanna Gotcher Ward

My obsession with Genealogy has taught me so much about myself.  I have been shaped by the legacy left to me by my ancestors.  My parents grew up on farms in the midwest.  My maternal grandparents owned a small general store in a tiny farm town in Iowa.  I always loved to stop there on the way to their farmhouse and I was intrigued with this idea of owning a small business.  My paternal grandmother lived on a Nebraska pioneer farm.  Her family had owned that farm since right at statehood.  Everything about her farm was old.  She was 45 when she had my dad (a twin), so she was “old” by the time I really started to pay attention.  The house was old, built in 1906, and never had plumbing.  The barn was old, the furniture was old, and the pictures were old.  I loved to sit and listen to Grandma tell stories about her family.  When I started to do genealogy, I already felt like I knew my Tracy ancestors because of all the stories I had grown up hearing.

I was named after both of my grandmothers’ middle names.  Rosanna Jean, my grandma Mabel Rosanna had been a one room school teacher and I decided at a young age that I wanted to be a one room school teacher as well.  In 1980, at age 9, Grandma sent me her handheld school bell.  She had received it from her aunt Rachel Rosanna when she started teaching and Rachel had received it in 1880 when she had begun teaching.  It was a tradition I was proud of and couldn’t wait to carry on.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 11.31.49 PM I think I had a pretty average life but here are a few fun facts about my early life.  I spent the first three months of my life in a boys’ dorm at a Mission in the mountains of Kentucky.  My parents were dorm parents.  When I was two I spent the summer on an old converted school bus.  My parents were part of a Southern Gospel singing group that had cut an album and was touring the midwest.  On nights that they didn’t have anyone to sit with me in the audience, they would bring me on stage and give me a microphone that was missing its cord.  I sang like I was part of the group.  When I was five we moved from Iowa to Tulsa because my dad wanted to attend Oral Robert’s University.  My mother eventually started working at ORU and worked her way up to being supervisor of the Word Processing/Copy Center.  I learned so much from her.  In fact, even though I have a college degree most of the jobs I have had I used the office knowledge I acquired through her far more than anything I learned in college.  Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 11.31.31 PM

I enjoyed elementary school but life changed for me when I started seventh grade at the local Junior High.  I went from being comfortable in my surroundings, near the top of the class, with friendly students, to being thrown into chaos, cliques and confusion.  By the end of that year I hated school! Meanwhile my dad had had a run in with the elementary school on my brother’s behalf.  This riled him up enough to do some further research and it resulted in him making a change in our education that was considered very strange by normal people at the time.  He pulled us out of school and started to homeschool us.  That was in 1984, at the beginning of the modern homeschool movement.  While my social brother had a hard time adjusting to school at home, I loved it.  I could study and read as much as I wanted to without interference from mean kids.  I could even study subjects that interested me.  I flourished in this atmosphere, and eventually so did my brother.  My little sister, who never knew anything but homeschooling had a harder time and never realized how good she had it, always jealous of the public school kids, until much later in life after her own kids went to public school and she eventually started homeschooling them.  I graduated at sixteen and immediately went to ORU.  Everything was great except I had no idea what I wanted to major in.  I wanted to be a history teacher but one semester helping at the local junior high cured me of wanting to teach in a typical classroom.  I also wanted to be a writer but wasn’t sure what I had to write about.  I eventually graduated with a degree I have never used and still wish I had just gotten a History degree for my own pleasure.

HPIM1143I married at 21 and quickly had two daughters.  We struggled financially as neither one of us had any career goals or experience.  My husband had gone into the army straight out of high school and had just come home from Desert Storm One when we met.  He started working two jobs, one at a grocery bakery counter, the other as a donut fryer.  He worked his way up at both jobs.  I had a home daycare for a while then worked in a daycare.  Then in 1997 we bought a small donut shop on New Sapulpa Road.  For the first few years it was exhausting work.  We had very few employees, we worked long crazy hours and then I’d get home and take care of the girls who were four and two at the time.  They grew up at the donut shop.  Through hard work and perseverance we succeeded at that store but we sold that shop in 2002.  My husband took the next year and half to work for Daylight Corporation, traveling the country teaching new owners how to make donuts and run a successful shop.

In 2004 we bought the Daylight Donuts in Sapulpa off Main and Bryan.  We had a son in 2005.  In 2010, at age 39 I had another son, completing our family.  In 2013 we opened a second Daylight Donuts in Sapulpa off Mission and Lincoln.  All this while homeschooling our four children.

So now we own a small business and I teach in a one room (or house) school.  I guess you could say I inherited a strong independent, entrepreneurial spirit!IMG_2809

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Wordless Wednesday – John Wesley Tracy resting on a bench

John Wesley resting in Holdrege, Nebraska park

John Wesley resting in Holdrege, Nebraska park

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Sunday’s Obituary – John Wesley Tracy

My great grandpa Wesley died rather suddenly under unique circumstances.  He was out hunting with some other family members and as he was sighting a rabbit with his rifle he had a heart attack and died.  One of his grandchildren, a child,  was with him and he remembers it was dusk, and an owl kept hooting nearby and he was scared.  Even as an older man he didn’t like owls.  After hearing this story I was telling it to one of my aunts and she said that Grandma Tracy also didn’t like owls and also that she, my aunt, heard owl hooting for several nights before Grandma Tracy died.  All this was rather interesting in light of the recent fashion of owl patterned items and knick knacks.  I did a little bit of research and discovered that many cultures believe that owls are harbingers of death.  Maybe that superstition was more well known by my ancestors than it is today.

312882_10150456630820937_546165936_10516284_1920462747_nJohn Tracy Obit

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