Keeper of the Family

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Family Short Tales

 

Joseph Cunningham - On March 3, 1778 at age 8 Joseph was one of 5 children capture by Indians after  witnessing 3 others  brutally killed and scalped.  Joseph was adopted into the Shawnee family and lived with them for sixteen years before being released by a treaty, freeing all Indian captives.  After his release, he guided pioneering families and surveyors of the vast tracks of forests. While he was on one of these surveying trips, he had an encounter with a large black bear. The bear grabbed him by the knee and would not let go.  He killed the bear with his hunting knife and pried his jaws open to free himself.  He was lamed for life by the injury.  After his return to civilization, he was known as "Injun Joe."   Joseph later married a Miss Margaret "Peggy" Ayres and fathered two daughters and one son.  They were: Mrs. Samuel Warne of Parkersburg, WV, Mrs. George Sires of Clarksburg, WV and Dr. John Cunningham of Illinois."

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Will and Grace Lockridge - Will was a surveyor helping to bring the railroad into the Grand Canyon.  He also had several mines in that area.  His wife Grace was pregnant with their first child and knew the dirt roads into Flagstaff could be washed out suddenly by flash floods which could prevent the doctor getting there in time for delivery.  So she decided to go into the city and stay with her family until the baby was born.  Afterwards the local papers printed "without the consent of her husband, Grace purchased a $500 automobile and barrel of gas for the journey home."   Since Grace didn't drive, her nephew Eugene Phelan offered to accompany her staying for the season making money by giving tours around the canyon and paying off the car that summer.

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Florence McDougall - Auntie Florence was a great ol gal who at one time worked for the Rock Island Railroad. She was born on December 30, 1896. I remember her always wearing a whistle around her neck to blow in case of rape!! She is the "Ol maid Flo" I refer to in my The Hunt poem ;-) Florence some how had it in her mind that Rick and I were Mays family and she was part of his cousin Donny's. She had lots of pages of family history that she was willing to share with them, but since May was never interested in genealogy, she wasn't going to share the information with me ... until much later in our marriage when she finally relinquished. So I owe her a great deal not only for her work of keeping the history, but for 'passing the torch' to me.

Aunt Florence died on September 29, 1988 after being hospitalized shortly for a broken hip she’d received after slipping on a curb and falling with her arms full of groceries. She came through the operation just fine, was up walking and joking with the therapists on either arm, when they noticed she missed taking a step - and was gone. What a nice way to go … laughing and looking forward!

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Jack Phelan - In 1955, Jack  and some friends gathered in a Yakima, Wash., restaurant for a cup of coffee and a few minutes of conversation ... thirty years later, that coffee break ranks as one of the most successful in Northwest retailing history.  He and other local businessmen thought up the idea of a membership discount store after reading in the Wall Street Journal about a similar operation for federal employees in Southern California.

One man challenged the rest to put their money where their mouths were.  Each gave $50 to send two of the group to visit "FedCo" in California, and they cut a deck of cards to see who would go.  Jack drew one of the high cards.  That was the first time we had ever heard of that type of operation.  The idea of offering goods at way below retail prices almost appealed more to us as consumers than it did as businessmen, because none of us were what you would call merchants, we were a barber, a lawyer and other businessmen."

Jack was impressed with FedCo's membership feature, the lack of outside signs and the store's closed-door concept.  "It was like a speakeasy -- you had to show your card, they'd push a button, a buzzer sounded and they let you in.".  When he returned to Yakima, Jack gave an enthusiastic report on the revolutionary concept.  Each man contributed $700 to start the store, took out a bank load and BiMart was born!
 

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Lloyd Purcell - Mr. Purcell was born Sept. 1, 1927, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. As a child, he was a performer on radio shows. He served in the Navy. He moved to Flagstaff after being discharged and attended Northern Arizona University where he met his wife. The couple lived in either Goodyear or Litchfield Park since 1951. He was a teacher at Agua Fria High School, NAU and Glendale Community College. He also was a professional musician, playing the trumpet in various jazz and big bands.

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John Madison and Elizabeth Ross Sirrine - Grandpa & grandma had several brothers & sisters who married and settled around them in Wayne County, Pa. All raised large families; the children played together building their play houses and were more contented than the children are today. One exciting time of their lives every Spring, when the ice had gone out of the river, and water was high, was to watch to see the famous big rafts of lumber go down through to Philadelphia . One day, I have heard my Mother tell, the relatives were all out watching for a certain raft to sail down though. My Mother's Uncle was Captain of the raft, and when it came in sight, they all waved and cheered. His wife who was a sister of grandmas, was there with her children too, and just as it was about going out of sight, something happened that swept Uncle off into the river, and he was drown in sight of them all.

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James Canopus Sirrine - During the Revolutionary War the barges with the troops that included Canopus landed in New Jersey, and as his vessel was about to land, he put out his foot to ward off another barge. He slipped so that his foot and thigh came down between the two barges, which jammed his thigh so badly that the doctor pronounced him unable to carry on. He received a paper allowing him to go home.

The injury Canopus sustained necessitated treatment for several weeks by a physician back in New York. He was able to procure a pair of crutches with which he made his way along short distances each day to Sing Sing (now Ossining) and the house of his uncle, Elisha Barton, a brother of his mother. He records that he was made welcome. Canopus learned that the rest of his force eventually proceeded to Yorktown, where the siege and surrender of the British under Cornwallis took place in October 1781. Meanwhile, Canopus learned his father had died shortly before the end of the War, so he headed for home, still hobbling on crutches after the news of peace.

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Roseanna Sirrine Hawker - On July 31, 1830 a little baby girl was born to Grandpa and Grandma Sirrine. The little log cabin was getting somewhat over crowded, so Great Grandfather Sirrine and his wife drove over to help them - they proposed to take one of the children home with them to keep a while. As Roseanna was the eldest, seven years old, they decided to take her, and send her to school in their district. She was soon made ready, and wore a new pair of shoes that had recently been made for her, of which she felt very proud. They arrived at her Grandfathers at night. The next morning she was made ready for school, with new shoes, and dinner pail, her Grandfather walking over with her. Near their home was a heavy piece of woods, with a beaten path through which to go for quite a long distance, before coming to the clearing where stood the log school house. As they walked along he kept impressing it on her mind that she must keep right on the path and never leave it to pick a flower or anything, else she would get lost. He went over after her at close of school and went with her again in the morning. He did this for three days, then the fourth day her Grandma went with her, telling her she must come home alone that night. And again telling here to keep to the path and hurry right along. She came home that night all safe, and next morning, she went alone. She had gotten quite a distance on the path when she spied a nice patch of winter greens, so she stopped by the path to pick them, soon she noticed nicer ones, and still more nicer ones yet. There were so many she thought it would be nice to take a bunch of them to the teacher. So she picked and picked, till it occurred to her that it was time she was getting on to school. So she snatched up her dinner pail and with her hands full of winter greens, she started back to the path, but there was no path there. She hurried this way and that, but no path could she find. She traveled in all directions till she was so tired and hungry she sat down to rest and eat. But being convinced that she was lost, she thought best to save her lunch as long as she could, so she ate her wintergreens. Then she took off her new shoes to save them for the new baby and started on carrying her shoes and pail.

She found some patches of raspberries of which she ate, and she also ate a little of her lunch. Then sun down came and she looked around for a place to sleep. She found a clump of low hemlock trees growing close together, so she crawled in there and a mossy mound was her bed. She spread her handkerchief on it to keep the bugs from crawling into her ears, spread her apron over her shoulders, and laid down, expecting to be eaten up before morning, as she could hear wolves yelping in the distance, but she hoped they wouldn’t eat her new shoes! Owls were hooting in the trees above her, but she was so tired she soon fell asleep. When she awoke the sun was shinning brightly and after finishing her lunch, she started on her weary march, surprised that she wasn’t eaten up. She traveled on and on, and came to a place where she had been yesterday, because she found a scrap of her dress caught on a briar bush. All day she traveled, eating wintergreens, berries and birch as she found them. Her feet were sore and bleeding from scratches and bruises, yet she must save her shoes for the baby.

The second night fell, and again she found a bed on mossy knoll under sheltering bushes. And again the wolves howled and the owls hooted, but she slept soundly through the second night, and the third morning she set out on her weary journey. But she didn’t go far before she came to the edge of the wood, what a welcome sight she saw! A clearing! A meadow and pasture where sheep were grazing and down at a distance in the hollow, she saw a house and smoke was curling up from a chimney. She could also see some persons outside near the house. She soon was on the way there. It seemed that the man and his sons were waiting their turn at the wash basin before breakfast, and one of them spied the little girl coming down across the field. Soon they were all gazing in wonder to see anyone coming from that way as no one lived in the direction. As she came up to them, she made it known that she was lost and had been in woods two nights, they were astounded. They asked her whose little girl she was, and she told them she was staying for a while at her Grandfather, Mr. Sirrine’s. Then they ask her how she got across the lake? She said she had seen no lake. Again they were astonished, as she could not have come there from Mr. Sirrine’s without crossing a lake. So it was decided that she must have come many miles to not have seen the lake. Then she was hustled into the house where a good breakfast was waiting, then undressed and put into a good bed, where she soon fell asleep.

One of the boys was sent on a horse to Mr. Sirrine’s to tell him where Roseanna was. The Grandfather drove over and got her, much rejoiced as everybody around had been out hunting for her and supposed wolves had dragged her off. But the shoes were saved for the baby!! And that baby was Drusilla Sirrine Arnold.

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Donald Wheeler - In 1935 after returning from a hunting trip on Sauvie's Island Don fell asleep in his car while on the Burlington Ferry waiting for it to take him to he other side of the Willamette River in Oregon. He woke suddenly and possibly thinking he was across - put his car in gear and drove off the ferry before reaching the landing. The ferry couldn't stop and floated over trapping Don underneath it and drowning him.

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Herbert Wheeler - Herbie was a Lighthouse keeper from 1908 - 1910 at South Manitou and Tail Point on Lake Michigan.

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Gilford E. (Dick) Youst - grew up in the state of West Virginia during the Civil War, and started west in 1873 at the age of 20 with a wife and baby girl. He was a cowboy working on ranches in New Mexico, Colorado and Montana. He later became a Sheriff in Liberal, Kansas during the early 1900's.

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James Albert Youst - At the age of 16, Albert went to work, as a ranch hand, being the oldest son, to help the family with the schooling of the other children. Wyoming winters were violent in those years and in 1891. While Albert was working on the Bar N Cattle Ranch, then owned by George L. Smith, news was relayed by the ranchers that the Hutchinfeller widow and her children could be in distress and possibly snowbound. Albert now 17, loaded a covered wagon with the necessary provisions and battled the elements--having to later abandon the wagon, strapping provisions on the two horses and continuing on to the Marquette, Wyoming area on the Shoshone river. When Albert reached the widow's ranch he found she and her five children, three girls and two boys, one a one a very small baby, critically ill. Albert nursed them back to health, collected fuel (wood and Buffalo chips) and cared for the widow's stock until relatives could reach them to take over. There were numerous incidents, similar to this one, during the next few years and news spread of Albert's heroic deeds and his good Samaritan response to women and families in distress--likening Albert to Brigham Young and his many women--roused joking comments among his family and friends and he acquired the nickname "Brig", for Brigham.

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Henry Wisner - A patriot, born in Goshen, Orange County, New York, about 1725; died there in 1790. He was the grandson of a Swiss soldier who settled in Orange county in 1715. Henry was appointed in 1768 one of the assistant justices of the court of common pleas, and represented Orange county in the New York general assembly in 1759-'69. He strenuously espoused the side of colonial rights against the pretensions of the British parliament, and was a member of the Continental congress of 1774 and of the 2d Continental congress, which adopted the Declaration of Independence. For that measure Wisner voted, and he was the only New York delegate who acquired that honor, but before the Declaration was engrossed on parchment and ready for signing, he went to New York to attend the Provincial congress, of which he had been elected a member.

He studied the art of making gunpowder and erected three powder-mills in the neighborhood of Goshen, from which large quantities of powder were supplied to the Revolutionary army. He was otherwise of practical service to the patriot cause by having spears and gun-slints made and by repair-mg the roads in orange county, thus facilitating the transportation of provisions and military material to the American troops. He also, at his own expense, erected works and mounted cannon on the banks of Hudson river, which greatly impeded British vessels in their passage of the Highlands. He was one of the committee that framed the first constitution of New York in 1777, state senator in 1777-'82, and a member of the New York convention of 1788, which ratified the United States constitution . On that occasion he voted in the negative, fearing, in common with other stanch patriots, that a strong Federal government would overpower state and individual rights. In person Wisher was tall, with pleasing manners, and a frame that was vigorous even in old age. He possessed a strong intellect and an energetic character.


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