Saturday, October 26, 2013

Funeral Card Friday: Elizabeth Stoner Ellsworth of Humberstone, Ontario

I know it's Saturday, but I had the idea on Friday, so this is still my Funeral Card Friday post.

This lovely funeral card commemorates the passing of my 4th great-grandmother Elizabeth Stoner Ellsworth. Elizabeth was born into a Mennonite family on 22 January, 1831 in Bertie Township, Ontario, which is in the Niagara Peninsula. All the information I have on her is from my grandmother's family history files, but judging from online information the family seems to be fairly well-researched. I would of course like to verify all the information myself eventually. The Stoner family seems to have emigrated from Lancaster, PA to Ontario during the Revolutionary War era. The Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario published a good article on the emigration of Quakers and Mennonites to the area, "The Lost Tribes of Niagara Plainfolk" by Harold Nigh (1986), which mentions the Stoner family and the related Neff family.

Elizabeth Stoner married a Quaker, John Moore Ellsworth. In the 1891 Census of Canada, the couple continued to identify themselves by their separate religious affiliations, which must have been important to them. I have a photo of John Moore Ellsworth, but I do not have one of Elizabeth. Hopefully one will turn up someday. I believe those are white bellflowers depicted on the funeral card, which, according to some sources on 19th-century flower meanings may have symbolized constancy and gratitude.

Entered Into Rest
At Humberstone Township, Ont., on Friday
November 16, 1917
Relict of the late John Ellsworth
In her 87th year


will be held from the residence of her daughter Mrs. Jefferson Steele, on Monday, November 19th, proceeding to the Mennonite Church, where service will be held at 2 0'clock p.m.

Interment at Overholt's Cemetery

I am very fortunate to have copies of letters written by Elizabeth in the last weeks of her life to her son, Ross Ellsworth and her grandchildren. Written in a frail hand with no punctuation and varied capitalization, the letters suggest the sadness of a dying woman who knows she will never see her son and grandchildren again in this life. They are also a last witness by a woman who hopes to leave her descendants a legacy of Christian faith.

Transcript (apologies for any inconsistent capitalization and punctuation choices) of letter dated November 10, 1917, one week before her death, from Elizabeth Stoner Ellsworth to her grandson, Reginald Ellsworth (my great-grandfather, whom I knew), who was probably living in Detroit according to an addressed envelope found with the letters. I am sad to read that the family did not visit Elizabeth that summer before her death. I wonder why? Was there a history of tension and hurt between Ross and his mother? Did they not really think she would be leaving them in the coming year? Was it simply too expensive for the Ross Ellsworth family to make the trip? I am glad, as the funeral card indicates, that Elizabeth spent her final days with her daughter, Arabella Ellsworth Steele.

Port Colborne
Nov 10 – 1917

Reginald dear grandson

I will try and pen a few lines to you to let you know that I do not forget you. I thought to see you all this summer but was disappointed so now I do not look ahead. Your father told me that you read the New Testament through. Dear Reginald that was not time thrown away. Jesus said search the scriptures for in them ye think ye have Eternal life and they are they which testify of me and there is no other name under Heaven but the name of Jesus Christ where by ye can be saved and God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that he that believeth in Him shall not perish but have Eternal life and that life is in His son. Jesus said unto his disciples before he went away it is expedient for you that I go away if I go not away the Comforter will not come to you but if I go away I will send Him unto you and He will bring to your remembrance all things that I said unto you. I will [ill.] a beautiful verse saints and angels formed in concert singing the praises of the Lamb while the blissful saints of heaven sweetly echo fourth his name Hallelujah sinners here may do the same.

Dear Reginald I do not know if you can read my writing. I remain lovingly yours,

Grandmother E. Ellsworth

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sports Center Saturday: My Dad

Ken getting a precocious start on his lawn game skills

It's late for a Saturday blogging prompt, but it's still officially Saturday! My thought on genealogy blogging is to work from the inside out, so the first person I thought of for Sports Center Saturday was my dad. According to my mom--and my memories of him from when I was very young--my dad was pretty good at any sport he tried. Football, basketball, tennis, hockey, water polo, golf, pole vaulting (seriously!), running--well, maybe not that last one. 

Ken in a fierce game of one-man paddleball while brother Bruce watches and learns
I recently made contact with a 2nd cousin of my dad's on his mother's side emailed me and asked whether I knew whether "any of the Kirstowskis [my grandmother's maiden name] that were runners or athletes?" The cousin mentioned a couple relatives who played minor league ball, bowled 220 average and were good runners. This is my dad's German side of the family and I'm guessing his athletic ability came from that side. 

Ken is lower left in this photo of the Redford Walther League basketball team
When I found this photo I assumed it was my dad's high school team and he said, "No, that was my Walther League team." American German Lutherans were big on social clubs and sporting clubs. The Walther League was named for C.F.W. Walther, founder of the Missouri Synod of the American Lutheran church. It was basically a church youth group that included sports teams as part of the programming.

I found some football photos and related newspaper clippings in a file passed to our family after my dad's parents' passing. My dad has mentioned that his parents never attended his high school games, but apparently someone was keeping track of his high school career--probably my grandmother. Don't mess with that 230-pound Junior tackle! 

Go Huskies!

One thing I learned form these clippings was that my dad was also a kicker. That was news to me. Ken received a couple of offers to play football in college and was admitted to Western Michigan on that premise. Once admitted, he decided not to play on the team and instead focus on his education. He did play hockey for Western, which was a club sport at the school in the late 1960s.    

After Ken graduated from college, married my mom and stared working full time, he still played golf, LOTS of basketball at the Birmingham Y, water polo with the Detroit Athletic Club "Beavers" (wish I had photos of that!), bowling and squash at the DAC, weeknight softball league and tennis with my mom "Up North" on family long weekends (I can still remember chasing balls around that hot asphalt waiting for them to be done!). 

I think the lasting legacy of my dad's athletic career will be that he was always outside playing with us when he was home--because he loved sports and it was probably the most fun way for him to interact with us.

Softball in the yard, basketball in the driveway, sledding, swimming in freezing cold Lake Huron for hours on end. 

Maybe my dad could have gone "further" in sports if he had wanted to, but in our family I think his ability in and love of sport was put to exactly the right use.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: My Parents - July 1969

I have finally decided to not let the "overwhelmed by genealogical information" syndrome prevent me from blogging about family history. I've turned to the wonder that is Geneabloggers Daily Blogging Prompts and will just take my cues without worrying about whether I am organized enough.

So....I welcome you to Wedding Wednesday. It is July 12, 1969 in Adrian, MI. The weather is hot and blustery and my parents, Ken Christenson and Carol Ellsworth, are about to make the Big Commitment in the chapel of Adrian College. My mom's family were members of the Methodist church, but they chose the chapel in part because of the short notice described below, and in part because my grandfather, a civil engineer, was a project manager on its construction. This is my mom and her dad, Richard "Bud" Ellsworth as he walks her down the aisle.

My mom looks beautiful and my grandfather is just beaming, isn't he? My mom said he tried to break up their nervousness by gradually bending his knees to make it seem like he was going downhill as they came through the door and started down the slightly sloping aisle. The bride's long, thick hair is done up in "Roman curls" as she called them, and the stylist had significant trouble drying her hair and she was almost late!

Oh, yes, my dad, Ken, was part of the wedding too. He was the reason the day had to be planned with only six weeks notice. They had planned to be married the December after their spring college graduation from Western Michigan University. Around graduation, however, he received both his draft notice and an invitation to officer training in the National Guard. Which one do you think he picked? Ken had to fly out in August for officer's training, so they decided to be married in July before he left. My grandmother planned the entire wedding and sewed the dresses for the bride, bridesmaids and bride's sisters in six weeks. Mother of the Bride and wedding planner extraordinaire, Jean Hurlbut Ellsworth is in yellow in this photo of the wedding couple and their parents.

My mom, Carol grew up in Adrian, while my dad, Ken, was from Detroit. Hiring a band for a wedding reception was apparently not the norm in Adrian at the time, but Carol remembers how all her college friends' Detroit weddings had bands and she wished she could have one, too. The reception was held at Adrian Country Club, where they could only reserve two hours in the afternoon on six weeks notice--not much time for a band, which was more expense than her parents were counting on anyway. But guess what? Surprise! Dad Bud Ellsworth had friends in a local Dixieland Band and he hired them to play during the reception. My mom was completely surprised and delighted.

I will close this Wedding Wednesday with the simple, lovely wedding invitation. Congratulations and good luck, Ken and Carol (so far, so good)!