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Dancing Queen

It is always interesting to find ancestors that lived centuries before and to discover little facts about them and their lives. But it is so surprising when you come across some detail of a relative that you know well… a detail that maybe they didn’t talk about to you because it happened before you were even born.

I found the following article about my wife’s grandmother, Patricia Anido. It was printed in the Indianapolis Star on August 21, 1927:

“Twins are nothing unusual in the show business, but seldom does one encounter triplets working as a sister act. Such an act is featured in the Publix production “Non-Stop to Mars,” which opens a week’s engagement at the Indiana theater today. The three merry little maids are Galacia, Patricia, and Constance Anido.

They were born and reared in St. Louis, MO and first began to attract attention by their dancing in the amateur productions at the Grover Cleveland high school, which they attended. Later they perfected their dancing under expert tutelage of Katie Belle Bambridge at the Bates school of dancing.

The Anido sisters are of Spanish descent. Their uncle, Gen. Martinez Anido, is at present the Governor of Barcelona. Another uncle has been Cuban consul at Toronto, Canada for the last four years. While they have won plenty of applause on Broadway during the past two years, they figure their greatest triumph was when they danced for the King and Queen of Spain two years ago while visiting their uncle.”

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please watch our TEDxEustis Talk on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

The Big Snow

In Bulloch County, Georgia, the average temperature in February, its coldest month, has a high of 57º F and a low of 37º F. As a result, snow is not a concern of most people who live there. That is not to say that there haven’t been a few surprises over the years.

On Valentine’s Day in 1914, Georgians awoke to an unusual sight… a blanket of white covering their streets and sidewalks. I know this because of a photograph that still hangs today in the Bulloch County courthouse. Court officials documented the rare weather incident by posing outside their building in 4 inches of snow. Among them was my 2nd great-grandfather, Harrison Oliff (2nd from left, top picture), who in 1914 was the court bailiff.

The forecast for the day was for mild or fair conditions so no one was prepared for the fact that they would wake up to see four or six inches of snow on the ground. It effectively shut down the entire area. Businesses closed, government offices took the day off, and most importantly, schools could not open, giving southern children the rarest of opportunities… a snow day.

The snowfall of 1914 broke records and it stood for almost 6 decades. As a side note, to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the “Big Snow,” the current court officials decided to replicate the 1914 photo by posing themselves in the same location, outside the courthouse (minus the snow). Interestingly enough, the deputy bailiff pictured in the photo of 2014 is Bruce Olliff (3rd from left, bottom picture). I’m not sure if there is a connection to my great great grandfather Harrison.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please watch our TEDxEustis Talk on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

Rev. Henry Loveall

It is no surprise to find, among the branches of our family tree, several relatives who served as pastors or ministers. But none did so as infamously as Rev. Henry Loveall, an 8th great-grandfather of my niece’s husband. 

Born in England in 1694, he came to America in 1729 and soon thereafter began offering his services behind the pulpit as a Baptist minister. From all accounts, he was known as being an accomplished orator and preacher. What wasn’t known is that he had fled his home in Cambridge, England in order to escape prosecution over an “inexcusable immorality.” Fortunately for him, a congregation in Piscataway NJ was in need of a replacement for their aging pastor and quickly chose to ordain Loveall as their minister despite suggestions to have him first enter into a trial period. They learned to rue that decision for not only did they discover that Loveall’s real name was actually Desolate Baker but that he had changed his name to obscure a number of indiscretions, including a bigamous second marriage, sexual liaisons with slaves and Indians, and the fact that he was perhaps an escaped convict. 

Even though the Piscataway church forbade him from administering the holy ordinances and soon excommunicated him from their church, he traveled to other parts preaching to Baptists up and down the eastern seaboard and, as far as the records show, apparently never changed his nefarious ways. He became the first pastor of the Chestnut Ridge church in Baltimore MD (pictured above) in 1742. Four years later he was “forced to resign.” 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please watch our TEDxEustis Talk on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

Oyez, Oyez! Read All About It!

Many males who are my age or older will remember that our first taste of employment was had by delivering the local newspaper. Being a paperboy was almost like a rite of passage that is sadly disappearing from today’s American culture. For young boys it could instill a sense of responsibility, pride of ownership (your route was YOUR route), and allowed us to develop many of the skillsets needed to be successful as we moved forward in life.

Whether delivering the daily paper or a weekly supplement, the process for the paperboy was pretty much the same. The papers were delivered to a common area where you would pick them up. You’d have to assemble the sections and fold them into a throwable form. You would then fill up your satchel or bag, sling it across your shoulder, hop on your bike and pedal through your route having memorized the houses that have subscribed to the paper. 

But, as in any profession, there are always some who manage to take it up a notch. Ed Kukst, my son’s grand-uncle, was one such “special delivery” carrier. He completed his route on a motorcycle. That’s him, in the center of the picture, with two other lads getting ready to deliver the Spokane Chronicle in the 1920s. Ed grew up to have a career in law enforcement. He retired from the Spokane Police Department as a lieutenant.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And be sure to watch our TEDxEustis talk at https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

Broadway Bound

As many know, I met my wife-to-be on a theatrical stage. 31 years ago, we were cast as brother/sister in the show “The Cocktail Hour.” A year later we were toasting to our marital happiness. But we are far from the only stage performers to find a place within our family tree.

At the beginning of the 20th century, George Tennery, my niece’s husband’s first cousin, appeared on Broadway. His first performance was in The Singing Girl by Victor Herbert. It appears he was an understudy as I found a review of his performance online. It reported that “owing to the illness of the tenor, Mr. Richie Ling, the company was at great disadvantage. Mr George Tennery sang Mr. Ling’s parts during the entire week and the best I can say in his favor is that his singing is not so bad as his acting.” Ouch. But nice to know that the backhanded compliment has a long and storied history among theater critics. I once received a review that said something along the lines of “Mr. Ondrasik, though untrained, certainly seems to be enjoying himself.”

But George apparently continued unfazed, as he appeared in two other Broadway shows, The Fisher Maiden in 1903 and Buster Brown in 1905. I could find no other references to his career although in his father’s obituary it is stated that “he was well known as one of the best tenor singers in the musical world.” 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And be sure to check out our TEDxEustis talk: https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8.

The Troup Suit Club

Two of my daughter-in-law’s 3rd great granduncles, Snap and David Pace Jarvis from Troup, TX, established their family business, Jarvis & Company, in 1888. It would continue to be a fixture of the community for the next eight decades.

The store carried a complete inventory of goods and became the community’s go-to source for clothes, shoes, hardware, farm implements, groceries, feed, fertilizers and buggies. They also bought and sold horses and mules as well as cotton. Snap’s wife explained, “Farmers would usually shop twice a year. They would come in the fall to sell their cotton and pay up their past accounts. Then the farmers would buy their winter supplies.

When Snap and D.P. retired, the store was left in the hands of Snap’s sons, Julian and Newell. When Newell moved on, Julian became the sole proprietor and under his management the store continued its successful rise. Jarvis & Company became especially known for the quality of its men’s clothing.  Julian established the “Troup Suit Club.” Members were assigned a number and required to pay $10 per week. Each week, if a member’s number matched the cent amount of a predetermined stock, he won a free suit. If no one won after a number of weeks, the amount paid could be applied to merchandise within the store. At one point there was up to 100 people paying into the club, some coming in as far away as Tyler to take part in the offer.

A family legacy finally ended on February 7, 1963 when The Troup Banner headline declared that Jarvis & Company had been sold to an investor from Dallas.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And be sure to watch our recent TEDxEustis talk about geneaology.  https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8

That’s My Pop!

One of my father-in-law’s earliest memories was also one of his favorite stories to tell. As a young lad, Arthur Giannone grew up in the New York/New Jersey area in the 1930s, and was taught early on how to identify the various musical instruments that made up an orchestra. His father was a working musician, playing the trumpet in concert halls and in the theatrical district of New York City.

One day his mother decided to take Arthur to the theater where his father was working. As the lights dimmed and the audience hushed, the orchestra began to play. After only a few notes into their planned number, Arthur’s trained little ears picked out the unmistakable tones of his father’s trumpet and excitedly shouted out, “That’s My Pop!” As he tells it, he got quite the ovation from the amused audience in attendance.

A few weeks later, a new cartoon appeared in the Sunday funnies. Penned by the renowned cartoonist Milt Gross and carried by Hearst’s King Features Syndicate, it featured a bumbling man who finds himself in absurd situations shadowed by a doting son who is not shy about shouting out his admiration. That’s My Pop! became a popular running comic strip, and was eventually adapted at one point into a radio show.

My father-in-law was convinced that he was the inspiration behind the strip and that Gross must have been at the theatre that night he first shouted out the catchphrase that captured the nation’s fancy.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And don’t forget to check out our recent TEDxEustis talk!

The Oregon Trail

1852 was a standout year for American emigration. Thousands if not tens of thousands took advantage of a treaty engineered by Thomas Fitzpatrick Broken Hand which all but eliminated the danger of Indian attacks, allowing pioneers to safely cross the Indian territories and head west. Eyewitness accounts of that year testified to wagon trains that stretched out to the horizon “as far as the eye could see.” My daughter-in-law’s 5th great granduncle (Thomas Banks) and 5th great grandaunt (Suzannah Jarvis Banks) happened to be in one of those wagons.

Thomas, having been drafted into the war of 1812, survived by paying another young man to serve in his stead. The young man unfortunately became a casualty of that war while Thomas, newly married with children, moved to his father’s home in Kentucky and then further west to Arkansas where he started a lumber business.

And then came 1852 and the promise of opportunity. Now 68 years old, Thomas Banks sold his mill in Arkansas and after gathering his wife and sons (along with other family members), he joined a train of 102 Conestoga wagons which were making their way west towards the promised land of Oregon. And while Indian attacks indeed did not occur, that did not mean the journey wasn’t fraught with peril. Neither Thomas nor Suzannah would survive the trip.

The real enemy turned out to be disease. It was most likely cholera that caused the deaths of so many emigrants along the Oregon Trail. Suzannah died first, in September of 1852. She was buried along the banks of the Burnt River. Thomas followed his wife a month later and was buried beside the Umatilla River. Years later attempts were made to find their gravesites but the temporary markers that were originally used had long since disappeared.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And don’t forget to check out our TEDx talk! https://youtu.be/uYlTTHp_CO8

The Regulators

After the Civil War, life in many of the southern states was anything but civil. Kentucky in the late 1800s was particularly hard hit with lawlessness and violence that local authorities could not control. It was so bad that the citizenry banded together to take matters into their own hands. Calling themselves “Regulators,” they made it clear that lawlessness would not be tolerated… even if they had to break the law themselves in order to enforce it.

This form of vigilantism began in 1879 in Elliott County when two hundred regulators stormed the local jail, dragged two alleged outlaws outside and hung them in front of the courthouse. The movement then quickly spread to adjoining counties, spawning an outbreak of terror against suspected wrong-doers and undesirables, including those operating outside of the moral standards of the community.

In March of 1880, about a hundred regulators rode up to the house of James Binion, my daughter-in-law’s 5th great-grandfather, where they demanded to see John Boggs, a supposed nefarious character who was sheltered inside. Binion refused them access, instead opening fire upon them and allegedly killing one of the regulators. Although they had only come to notify Boggs to leave the county, once shots were fired, they broke down the door, fired a volley which instantly killed Binion, then took Boggs and lynched him. Binion’s wife suffered a broken leg in the melee and his son was whipped for participating in the exchange of gunfire.

The regulators’ reign of terror only lasted a few years. The movement was squashed when district Judge James Stewart called on Gov. Luke Blackburn to send state troops to restore order. That threat, along with the promise to pardon any regulator who voluntarily surrendered, effectively put an end to the organized vigilantism movement although isolated acts would occasionally occur until the twentieth century.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.