So I have contemplated a blog for a long time – as an avenue to journal my activities but to also share my passions – family, quilting, gardening, genealogy just to name a few. My goal was to start this adventure in March and I figured I better get on it or my deadline would pass and it would be too easy to procrastinate it for another month, year whatever.
My nieces daughter called the other night for a school project that involved family history and that pushed me back into that wonderful place know as Ancestry.Com. I had not been there for a couple of years and I was so excited about the wonderful changes they have made! While I am a member of ancestry, you can do quite a bit of research free. My biggest hint is don’t stick to exact spelling, remember these records are all handwritten and the transcription may not always be correct. Quite often the person taking the census guessed on the spelling of names as well. So use initials and partial names when doing your research.
Today I share with you a letter written by my mom – to my son when he was in Jr. High. (in 1993) This was for his family history class. This letter has served as my jumping off point for much of my family history work. I have also located cousins along the way because of this letter. Please ask your parents and grandparents to give you a family history for your children (and you!)
In her words, from the original written by her hand on yellow notebook paper.
On August 13, 1923, in Lakewood, Ohio, I was born to Fred Stewart Curtis and Cali Fornia Curtis. When your Great Grandmothers forebearers came over from France, their name was Fornier (pronounced Forn Ya), people over here couldn’t pronounce it correctly & it eventually became Fornia. When Mama was born in Arizona there were already several girls in the family and they couldn’t decide what to name her. When she was 4 months old they moved to California and they decided to name her “Cali”. I understand the state of California wanted to give her all kinds of things, until they found out she had been born elsewhere. I was also told that a cousin in Hawaii had her name legally changed to Cali. I believe my uncle Bob was the last Fornia. When I was 5 years old Mama went to the hospital on my birthday, with what they thought was TB, but was found to be lung cancer. She only lived two more weeks. One of my brothers (Don) held me up to the hospital window so I could see her. They named me Lorna after a girl my mother saved from drowning in Lake Erie when got caught in the riptide. Her name was Lorna Wulf. Her mother became my Godmother. (Mama was really afraid of water).
I had 2 brothers, Roger Alan, nine years older and Donald Robert, 11 years older. I believe Don’s son, Roger Lynn compiled a history of the family. I have lost contact with my brothers, would really like to know if they are still alive. Don married a girl named Aleen & had just the one Son. Roger married Virginia, better known as Ginger. They had 2 girls Judith & Carolyn.
Sometime after Mama’s death, Daddy married a woman named Beverly who had a 3 yr old daughter named Barbara, so, for a little while I had a little sister. However, it was such a bad marriage it was annulled by the State of Ohio. When I was 7, Daddy loaded my 2 brothers & me into a Model A Ford with a rumble seat & headed for California. It was quite a trip. We stayed for awhile with my uncle Morton, on the Laurelette Ranch, just outside LaVerne, CA. Then Don went back to Akron, OH as he was a straight A student and the Goodyear Company recruited him. Roger stayed on the ranch for awhile and I sent to San Pedro to stay with my aunt Nora, who was the head Matron at the YMCA. I got to meet a lot of sailors and went out on the battle Ships with my aunt and cousins who sang there every Sunday.
Dad met & married Eugenia (Gene) Loba. We lived in Eagle Rock & Gene worked for the California Bank in LA. we lived a few blocks from the end of the streetcar line & I used to go & meet her, which was fine until one night a caught a piece of gravel with my skate & almost fractured my skull – Boy, did I have a goosegg.
Daddy was born in White Pidgeon, MI. He became an engineer & worked for the W.S Tyler Company in Cleveland – they manufactured wire screens. He was a Captain in the Army and Served in France during World war one. He traveled to the west as an engineer, and went down in the mines where they used mules underground. After we moved west, he had to settle for whatever he could get. Eventually, he and Gene bought a resort at Conway Summit on highway 395 – The highest point on the highway between Canada and Mexico – 8138 ft. If I remember correctly we lived there for quite awhile. I attended a 1 room school at Mono Lake – then transferred to Bridgeport because I could ride there with the mail man. Sometimes we’d get snowed out & ahd to stay in town. Once in awhile, it would get 40 below zero – we didn’t have recess then! When I was old enough for high school, I had to go work for my board & room as there was no high school near. I attended Chaffee High in Ontario, CA. Also a few months at Riverside Polytechnic. While at Chaffee I sang in the Glee Club. Also 2 church choirs. The Episcopal in the morning and the Methodist at night. I went home for vacations. When I was a junior in high school I stayed home and attended Mono County High in Leevining (sp) , 2 whole rooms. That summer I was working in Bridgeport and I married Leonard Denzil Spotswood. When I was 19 David Earl was born. When David was 4 mos old Leonard went into the Army & served overseas. While he was there he met someone else & when David was about 4 yrs old we were Divorced. David stayed with my brother Don for awhile, but when I met & married John Kirk (Slats) Wolfram, I wanted him home. John & I had 3 children. Evelyn Marie who lives in CA. John Kirk who lives in Berkley, CA and WmHenry (Bill) who has a home in Sandy, UT but spends much of his time on his ranch in Garrison, UT. John & I separated and I came to Utah with “Doc” Thomas (real name Maxwell Kluss) who was a rodeo rider & miner After John was shot & killed in Tonopah, NV, Doc & I were married. However it was a stormy marriage & I left him and went back to NV. Leonard was killed in a car accident in CA, just west of Reno. Doc died probably partly due to alcoholism & asthma & partly as the many injuries he received as a rodeo rider. He rode Saddle Broncs. When I returned to NV, I met your Grandfather Larry. Then I decided to go to Oregon & did so, but I came back to Winnemucca & your grandfather & I were married. We moved to Elko where your Mother and Aunt Jenny were born. Your Grandpas real name was Ferry E. Bunnell, but he went by Larry the E didn’t stand for anything. He was born in Midway went to Canada for a short time then came back and was raised in Park City, where he delivered papers on ide skate with his dog pulling him. He went to the coast & operated a restaurant called The Doll House. During the war he came back here and worked at Remington Arms Plant. When I met him he was working at a cafe in Winnemucca. Then he did some bar tending, too, but his first love was mining and he worked in several mines in Park City when he was younger. When your Aunt Jenni was 3 I had to put her in Shriners hospital here in Salt Lake. I was coming over to see her on her 4th birthday, but Larry died on the 4th of August, 4 days before her birthday. I didn’t get over here until your mom & I moved here the following year. I’ve been here in Salt Lake ever since. Your Uncle Dave brought his horse down to race the Ride & Tie one year at Park City. Your mom treated me to a trip to Reno to see him & she & Jenni & Shantelle and I sent to Reno to see him & Jeanine get married – at the end of a 26 mile marathon. Our last trip up there was to go to his funeral – a very sad time for us all. Ironically he was killed on the same road where his father had the accident. Your Grandpa’s first wife was related to Butch Cassidy. they were married in his (Butch’s) nieces home.
When I first moved into these high-rise apartments, I was still fairly active, but every year seem to get a little worse. I pretty much just stay home. It was such a treat when your Mom and Corey came in and took me to your house, but i did miss seeing you, Andy. It was great to have you all here at Christmas. I do miss Aunt Jenni & the girls, but hope to see them next summer. Well, Andy, here’s part of the story of my seventy years. I’m sure I’ve left out some, but I did the best I could. I have writers cramp! I hope this is what you needed to have.
With much love,
Your Grandma Lorna
So my first blog post is dedicated to my mom – how she would’ve loved the technology we enjoy today!