Sunday, September 28, 2014

52 Ancestors #39: 1946 Pittsburgh Steelers

Ancestor Name: KLAPSTEIN, Earl Loren (1922-1997)

My Schalin ancestors immigrated to Alberta, Canada, in 1893, primarily to escape the religious intolerance of Russian Tsar Alexander III. My grandmother's aunt, Pauline (Schalin) Falkenberg, married John Gutche soon after the extended Schalin clan arrived in Alberta. He was her second husband. They had five children between 1895 and 1906.

In 1917, their oldest daughter, Sadie Pauline Gutche, married Emil Klapstein. Emil's family was also from Russia and had immigrated to Alberta about 1898. Soon after their marriage they moved to Lodi, California. Emil worked as a manager at the Enterprise Planning Mill and they lived at 523 East Walnut (which is now a parking lot).

Sadie and Emil had three children: Harvey Cecil, Vernon Sidney, and Earl Loren. Vernon later changed his surname to Kenwood. Earl played college football in California at the University of the Pacific and was a member of the university's ROTC program. He served with the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and was later drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 24th round (250th overall) in 1944.

Earl Klapstein in 1943; photograph courtesy of Fanbase

By 1946 he was playing offensive and defensive tackle with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team went 5-5-1 under head coach, Jock Sutherland, who was later inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

1946 Pittsburgh Steelers; photograph courtesy of Tailgating Jerseys

In 1956 he was a defensive line coach and scout for the Green Bay Packers; it was his move up to the coaching ranks of professional football. He didn't stay in Green Bay long. According to an Associated Press card, he became the Director of Physical Education and head football coach at California Junior College in Cerritos soon after it was founded.

Racine Journal Times, 20 April 1956

Earl married Viola C. Wiederrich, on 7 May 1944 in Nevada. He had just completed basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina but had not yet been deployed to the Pacific. They made their home in Lodi most of their entire lives. Viola was a fine athlete in her own right. She played shortstop on a championship softball team in 1939. Earl died in 1997 and Viola in 2009. Both are buried at Cherokee Memorial Park in Lodi.

I discovered Earl Klapstein after having my mother's DNA tested. I wanted to be able to identify which of my DNA matches came from each parent. I also know so little about my mother's side of the family, I was hopeful a test one generation further back would be helpful. One of her 4th to 6th cousin matches had no family tree attached to the test, but I recognized the surname of the person who administered the test from a one-place study I had done of Leduc, Alberta, Canada -- where my Schalin ancestors settled in 1893. I messaged him and we've since shared enough information for me to place him in my family tree. According to my tree software he is the grand nephew of the husband of a first cousin twice removed. That means that from my known information we are not related by blood. So there must have been a Klapstein-Schalin marriage in Russia about which we are both unaware.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Fearless Females: Immigration
Fearless Females: Religion

Saturday, September 27, 2014

One Lovely Blog Award

Fran Ellsworth, author of the wonderful blog, Branching Out Through the Years, chose me for the One Lovely Blog award. Thank you! Fran introduced me to Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration, where I contribute one post a month on the 25th day. It's been a great experience where I've learned how to do proper genealogical research in many other countries from my fellow participants.

The rules for this award are as follows:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
  2. Share seven things about yourself
  3. Nominate 15 you admire (or as many as you can think of)
  4. Contact your bloggers and let them know you've tagged them for the One Lovely Blog award.
So here goes. Seven things about myself:
  1. While I have dabbled in genealogical research for many years, I took over from my Dad in 2012 and have become totally obsessed. 
  2. My blog began as away to tell Mom and Dad about my research discoveries.
  3. I have been a history buff for as long as I can remember and have learned that genealogy is the perfect blend of the history I've always loved with a way to honor my parents and grandparents.
  4. I can remember trivial factoids about almost anything, but am completely oblivious to almost all popular culture icons.
  5. I love renovating and remodeling homes and am currently living in a home that's been under renovation for about three years.
  6. My husband and I have started serious discussions about retiring...the problem is where.
  7. Writing my blog posts is much easier with a glass of wine! ;)
As for the 15 bloggers I admire, well, there are so many -- most of whom have already received this award. I've received a lot of support from my fellow members of the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group, especially when I was struggling to continue writing my blog. But I'm going to bend the rules a bit and tag everyone who contributes to the Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration project. What I like most about reading this blog is the participants are from all over the world and they've introduced me to many tools I now use in my research or to stay organized.

9/29 Update: I was also nominated by Bernita Allen, author of the blog, Voices Inside My Head. Thank you, Bernita!

10/4 Update: I was nominated again by ScotSue, author of the blog Family History Fun. Thank you, Sue!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Worldwide Genealogy: Color Me Confused

Today is the 25th of the month so it's my turn to contribute a post to Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration. I'm asking for help understanding the genealogical proof standard and here's why.

For years my grandmother, father, and I have had the same Riggin brick wall, which stopped at John C Riggin, my four times great grandfather. Family lore said he came to Illinois from Tennessee and that his father was a minister, who rode a circuit, preaching at several churches on rotating Sundays. What we could never figure out were the names of his parents or any siblings.

Learn why a Lincoln scholar, James T. Hickey, is my new genealogy hero:

James T. Hickey (1922-1996), photograph
courtesy of the Lincoln Newsletter, a publication
of the Lincoln College Museum

And why my latest research into the Riggin family history led me to Somerset County, Maryland, in the 1650s; why it has left me scratching my head; and how I plan to sort out my confusion. I hope you'll click over to post, Confusion and the Proof Standard, to read how I plan to solve my latest research problem.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Black Diamonds Go to Market

I have been doing my biennial Dagutis research, looking for anything new I can find about my husband's paternal grandparents and their children. I've run into a lot of brick walls over the years, but new information is always being added to the Internet and I make slow but steady progress.

My husband's aunt, Anna Dagutis, married Joseph Genevich and they had two children: Dorothy and Elgert. Dorothy Genevich and Olin MacDormott, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, applied for a marriage license in 1957 and that is literally all I know.  I believe Olin's parents were Olin and Vera (Yaple) MacDormott, who were also parents of a daughter, Mildred Hope MacDormott.

Mildred was senior at Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre in 1937. The school yearbook, The Breidlin, is a very interesting read and included the following article, which I found fascinating being the coal buff that I am.

Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania;
photograph courtesy of Coughlin High School

Black Diamonds Go to Market

"Buy, burn, and boost anthracite!" is the slogan of the new Chamber of Commerce campaign to put the local coal industry back on its feet. Mr. Ashton Smith spoke to the school on the need of recovering markets on Friday, October 9.

Mr. Smith explained that 75% of all the business of this valley are dependent on the coal industry. He recalled the days when this region was noted for its wealth, but declared that, during the strikes, consumers had turned to other fuels and since have not returned to anthracite.

Anthracite coal on the way to market; photograph courtesy of
Coughlin High School

The Chamber of Commerce requested Miss Marion Sturdevant, supervisor of English in the city, to have students write letters on the superiority of anthracite as a fuel. This was done, and the letters sent to high school students in New England."

1937 was the height of the Depression, but I still find it interesting that coal was such a part of the fabric of life in northeastern Pennsylvania that high school students were enlisted in economic development projects.

Uncle Joe Was Married Before!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

52 Ancestors #38: Uncle Joe Was Married Before!

Ancestor Name: Joseph GENEVICH (1892-1948)

Joseph Genevich was my husband's by-marriage uncle, who died before my husband was born. Joseph was born on Christmas Day in 1892 somewhere in Lithuania, which at the time was part of Imperial Russia. His father, also named Joseph, had been a farmer. His mother's name was Tilly Shedilis or Tessie Zudellis, depending on which record one chooses to use.

The spelling of Genevich has also been problematic when researching. The source documents include several variations such as Genavage, Genevick, Grevich, Jenevage or Jenevich.

Sometime between 1910 and 1912 Joseph immigrated to the United States and settled in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He worked in the anthracite coal mines his entire working life.  On 6 October 1915 he applied for a marriage license and on 3 November 1915 Joseph and Annie Stank were married in Hazleton. Annie was a mill hand and her parents were Michael and Eva (Dogalis) Stank.

On 9 April 1925 Annie (Stank) Genevich died at 203 East Coal Street Shenandoah, Pennsylvania of tuberculosis. She was 36 years old and was buried in St Mary's Lithuanian Cemetery on April 14th. I do not believe Joseph and Annie had children as none were listed on the 1920 census.

Less than a year later, Joseph married again to Anna Dagutis, my husband's aunt. Anna was born on 1 June 1908 in Harwood, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Adam Peter and Cecelia (Klimasansluski) Dagutis. Adam was a coal minter. Anna's parents considered themselves Lithuanian.

Joseph Genevich and Anna Dagutis marriage license application; image
courtesy of

When Joseph and Anna applied for their marriage license just after Christmas, Joseph believed his parents were dead. Anna was a mill hand, like Joseph's first wife, and she lived with her mother at 322 Winters Avenue, West Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Her father, Adam, had died in June 1925. Joseph and Anna married on 2 January 1926, perhaps in Freeland, Pennsylvania.

409 N 4th Street, West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the last known
residence of Joseph and Anna (Dagutis) Genevich; photograph
courtesy of Google Maps

They had a daughter the following year and a son named Elgert in 1932. When Joseph registered for the World War II draft in 1942 he was working for the Lattimer Coal Corporation in Humbolt, Pennsylvania. The mine employed 226 people and shipped nearly 126,000 tons of coal to market that year. There had also been one fatal accident and three non-fatal injuries that year.

Anna's obituary said Joseph died in 1948. I wish the Pennsylvania death certificates now available on did not stop at 1944! Anna (Dagutis) Genevich died after a long illness on 30 March 1974.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Joseph Genevich was born on 25 December 1892 in Imperial Russia to Joseph Genevich and Tilly Shedilis or Tessie Zudellis. He immigrated to the United States in 1910 and was naturalized the same year, according to his border crossing record at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo New York twenty years later. He settled in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania and worked in the mines. In 1915 he married Anna Stank. The marriage produced no children and Anna died in 9 April 1925 at Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, of tuberculosis of the lungs. On 28 December 1925 Joseph and Anna Dagutis obtained a marriage license and were married on 2 January 1926 by Reverend S. J. Struchus in Freeland, Pennsylvania. They had two children. Joseph Genevich died in 1948.

The Rocks that Fueled the Industrial Revolution

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Aboard the Blue and Floyd B Parks

Albert "Al" Paul Dagutis was my husband's uncle. He served in the Navy during World War II and I told the first part of his military service history a few days ago. This is the rest of his military story.

After serving on the USS Harry Lee, which supported the North African and Sicily invasions before joining the Pacific Fleet in time to participate in the Gilibert Islands Operation, Al was transferred off the ship sometime after 16 Dec 1943 and traveled back to New York City to prepare a new ship for commissioning into the U.S. Navy, a Sumner-class destroyer, the USS Blue (DD-744).

USS Blue (DD-744) ; photograph courtesy of the National Archives and
Records Administration

He was one of 355 men and 19 officers aboard the ship on 20 March 1944 when she was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn. In April the Blue went to the Caribbean for a month-long shake down cruise, returning to New York for alterations.

She left the yard on 6 July 1944 and joined another destroyer, a destroyer-escort, and the aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger, in Norfolk. Together, the ships steamed to Pearl Harbor. Upon reaching Pearl, the Blue joined Task Force 58 (which was temporarily called Task Force 38 when Admiral Halsey was present as commander of the Third Fleet). The task was composed of the newest and fastest ships in the Navy and included the Hornet, Wasp, Intrepid, Bunker Hill, Essex, Lexington, Franklin, Randolph, and Ticonderoga; the battleships New Jersey, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Alabama, Washington, and South Dakota; plus dozens of cruisers; and more than one hundred destroyers. It must have been a fearsome sight!

USS Blue (DD-744) at the New York Navy Yard;
photograph courtesy of the National Archives and Records

The opening shots of the Philippines campaign in September 1944 were the Blue's first combat experience. The Blue spent a month in Philippine waters before being detached from the task force to perform several special duty runs to Guam, Eniwetok, Saipan, and Ulithi, a West Caroline island, which became the fleet's main anchorage during this period.

In October 1944, the Blue joined eight other destroyers and became part of Destroyer Squadron 61, known as Desron 61. The squadron steamed to the Philippines supporting the countless airstrikes aimed at Luzon and Formosa. On 19 December the Blue was caught in a violent typhoon, which sunk three other destroyers -- the Hull, Spence and Monaghan. She retreated to Ulithi to make repairs.

USS Blue (DD-744) at the New York Navy Yard; photograph
courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

Ready for action by early January 1945, the Blue rejoined Third Fleet in time for its daring thrust into the South China Sea. After steaming through the Bashi Channel, they began striking shipping and military installations along the French Indo-China coast. Those strikes were followed by air attacks on Hong Kong and Canton, but further operations were halted by another typhoon. Again, the Blue was damaged, worse than previously, and returned to Ulithi for repairs. These repairs took about two weeks. The Blue rejoined Task Force 58 to support the invasion of Iwo Jima.

Here deck logs describe some of the fighting:

"Tuesday, 9 Jan 1945: Our troops land on Luzon -- we hit Luzon with our carrier plans -- one of the Jap Zekes (fighter) runs over us and is splashed by a Hellcat -- on our way to the China Sea through the Straits of Luzon which is 25 miles wide -- Jap plane coming towards our force splashes.

Friday, 12 Jan 1945: Our carrier planes make strikes against French Indo China. They sink a convoy of 4 DEs, 1 large transport & 4 attack transports -- also they are after a convoy of 6 DDs, 6 transports, 1 light cruiser but as yet we haven't the results. No dope on later convoy. Flash! We lost track of Jap convoy

Our carrier planes sunk 41 Jap ships and damaged 21 -- 120,000 tons sunk -- 70,000 damaged."

World War II era USS Blue deck logs; images courtesy of

Yet there was time for fun when in Ulithi:

"Went ashore on one of the islands on a beer party -- had four cans -- went coconut hunting with a few boys -- seen a movie at night."

But Al is last mentioned as being on the ship on the 10 February 1945 muster rolls. I believed he was transferred off the ship at that time and sent back to the U.S. to prepare another ship for commissioning.

He was present at the commissioning of another destroyer on 31 July 1945, the USS Floyd B Parks (DD-884), a Gearing-class destroyer, which was built in Orange, Texas, by the Consolidated Steel Corporation. She arrived at San Diego, her home port, on 16 November 1945 and sailed to the Far East four days later to join the war effort. However, Albert Paul Dagutis was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy on 28 November 1945 so I do not believe he was on the Floyd B Parks when she sailed toward her post-war occupation experience.

USS Floyd B Parks (DD-884); photograph courtesy of the National Archives
and Records Administration

During World War II, Uncle Al served aboard four ships; those ships participated in some of the most memorable fighting in two theaters of operation: Sicilian Occupation (Scoglitti, 10-12 July 1943), Gilbert Islands Operation (Tarawa, 21-21 November 1943), The Volcanos-Bonin-Yap Raid (31 August-9 September 1944), Capture of the Southern Palaus (6 September-14 October 1944), Philippine Islands Raids (9-24 September 1944), Luzon Raids (5-6, 13-14, 18 November and 14-16 December 1944), Formosa Raids (3-4, 9, and 15 January 1945), and the Luzon Raids (6-7 January 1945, and the China Coast Raids (12-16 January 1945).

In my book that's a heck of a war!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

52 Ancestors #37: Life Aboard the Alcor and Harry Lee

Ancestor Name: DAGUTIS, Albert Paul

Albert Paul Dagutis was born on 18 March 1920 in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He was youngest of possibly thirteen children. His father died when he was five years old. Albert, known as "Al" by the family, was the only Dagutis sibling to graduate from high school, which he did in 1938. Four years later he joined the U.S. Navy on 14 February 1942 in Baltimore, Maryland.

He served on four ships during World War II and was discharged on 28 November 1945.

USS Alcor (AR-10)
Young Al joined the crew of the USS Alcor after basic training on 3 September 1942 as an F2c, which meant he was a fireman, someone who fired and tended boilers as well as operating, adjusting, and repairing pumps. At the time Al joined the ship, she was classified as a repair ship. The ship was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia, responsible for repairing and making alterations to war ships. The ship was later re-designated a destroyer tender.

USS Alcor being assisted by Baltimore tugs in late 1941, a year prior
to Albert Dagutis joining the ship; photograph courtesy of the National
Archives and Records Administration

USS Harry Lee (AP-17, APA-10)
Al was transferred to the USS Harry Lee and first arrived on board on 5 November 1942. The ship was a troop transport when Al joined the ship. During his tour of duty it was re-designated an attack transport and assigned the hull number APA-10. For the first 18 months the Harry Lee took part in amphibious maneuvers in the Caribbean area carrying out many valuable experiments with landing craft and boat control procedures, all of which bore fruit in the dangerous months to come.

Al was promoted to F1c about the time the ship returned to Boston on 6 Apr 1943. Harry Lee was designated for use in the upcoming offensive in the Mediterranean, and sailed 8 June for Algeria. She anchored at Oran 22 June to prepare for the landing. In July the Harry Lee was off the southwest coast of Sicily with Vice Admiral Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force. During this giant invasion Harry Lee debarked her troops through the heavy surf at Scoglitti and withstood several Axis air attacks before retiring on 12 July.

USS Harry Lee in May 1943; photograph courtesy of the
National Archives and Records Administration

After the success of the Sicilian operation, the transport returned German prisoners of war to the United States, arriving in Norfolk on 3 August. It was then decided that her amphibious prowess was needed in the Pacific, and she sailed 24 August for Wellington, New Zealand, via the Panama Canal and San Francisco, California, arriving 12 October 1943. At Wellington Harry Lee loaded Marines in preparation for the big push of the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.

She proceeded to Efate, New Hebrides, during the first week in November and for the next few weeks held amphibious practice landings in preparation for the landings on Tarawa. The transport departed for Tarawa 13 November, and arrived offshore 20 November. There she launched her Marines onto the bloody beaches, under threat of submarine attack and air attack and sailed the next day for Pearl Harbor.

Harry Lee participated in rehearsal landings in Hawaiian waters after her arrival at Pearl Harbor 7 December 1943. Al likely left the ship at this time and traveled back to the U.S. to join his next ship, the USS Blue, prior to her commissioning on 20 March 1944.

Harry Lee earned seven battle stars during World War II, Albert Paul Dagutis served on board during two of those campaigns:
  • Sicilian Occupation: Scoglitti, 10-12 July 1943
  • Gilbert Islands Operation: Tarawa, 20-21 November 1943
To be continued...

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Albert Paul Dagutis was the youngest son of Adam Peter and Cecelia (Klimasansluski) Dagutis and was born on 18 March 1920 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. His father died when he was five years old. His mother moved with several of her sons to Hamtramck, Michigan, in time for the 1930 census to be enumerated, but by 1935, they were back in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Albert was the only child to graduate from high school.  He enlisted in the Navy on 14 February 1942, just two short months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, at the age of 21. He served with the Navy as a Fireman until 20 November 1945 when he was discharged. He settled in Michigan where at least two of his brothers were living with their wives and children. According to my husband, he never owned a car and took the bus everywhere. He died in Traverse City, Michigan, on 16 February 1987, the year before my husband and I were married. So I never got to meet Uncle Al.

Crossing the Line Ceremony

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fatal Colliery Accident

Andrew Cairns Muir was the adopted son of my first cousin three times removed, Nathaniel Muir and his wife, Ann "Annie" Hutton. Adnrew's birth parents were Andrew and Elizabeth (Cameron) Cairns. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 2 March 1902.

When the 1911 census was enumerated, he was living with his adopted parents at 44 High Street, Bathgate. He became a coal miner like his adopted father and married Isabella Henry Adams on 31 December 1926 at the church manse in Bathgate. Andrew and Isabella had two daughters in 1932 and 1935.

Snippet from the Register of Corrected Entries regarding
Andrew Cairns Muir's death; personal collection

About 5:00 a.m. on 24 November 1936, Andrew was working at Easton Colliery when a "quantity of material fell from the roof of his working place upon him. He died of asphyxia. The jury at the inquest into his death ruled it accidental according to the Register of Corrected Entries filed at the parish registrar's office on 5 January 1937. He was buried at Bathgate Cemetery. He was 34 years old at the time of his death.

Nathaniel and Annie (Hutton) Muir memori monument;
photo courtesy

The inscription reads:

Created by Nathaniel and Annie Muir in loving memory of their sons
Nathaniel who died 19th March 1908 aged 13 years
Andrew husband of Isabella Adams accidentally killed 24th Nov 1936 aged 44 years
Annie Hutton Muir died 24th Nov 1935 aged 63 years
Also the above Isabelle Adams died 18th Jul 1984 aged 81 years

Sunday, September 7, 2014

52 Ancestors #36: A Soldier Boy's Creed (Updated)

Ancestor Name: Julius Franklin COLLINS

Julius Franklin Collins was one of the young men of the lost generation of World War One. He was killed on 30 September 1918 in Argonne, France, and was newly married and 30 years old at the time of his death.

When he completed his registration card for the draft on 5 June 1917, he was single, lived at 4217 Cook Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri, and owned a gift and art shop. He was described as tall, slight of build with brown eyes and black hair. Early the next year he married Edith Audrey Wolff, also of St. Louis.

Before Julius left to fight for the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, he wrote A Soldier's Creed, which was published in several newspapers, including Julius' hometown paper, the Troy Call.

As published in the Troy Call on 12 July 1918

The 56th Infantry Regiment was organized in mid June 1917 at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and attached to 3rd Brigade, 7th Infantry Division in World War One. The brigade's infantry and reconnaissance elements were involved with skirmishes with German troops but the division never participated as a whole in any engagements during the war. However, once such "skirmish," which took place on 30 September 1918, was fatal for Julius Franklin Collins.

On 1 November 1918, the story of his death was front page news in the Troy Call:


Reported Killed in Action in France on September 30

Is First Troy Boy to Lose Life on Battlefield "Over There"

Relatives and friends in Troy were shocked and grieved Wednesday upon learning that Julius Collins, a former Troy boy, had lost his life in action in France on Monday, September 30th. He is the first Troy boy to be killed in action in the present war.

The information was received here by John Collins, a brother, from the dead soldier boy's wife who is residing in St. Louis. No further particulars, aside from the usual announcement by the War Department are known but it is hoped these will be received by letter from his superior officer or from some member of his company.

Young Collins went into the army on May 12th in St. Louis and was sent to Camp McArthur at Waco, Texas, for training. He sailed for France on August 1st and was in that country just two months. The last letter received from him by relatives here was written on September 8th.

Julius Collins was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. William Collins and was born in Troy on August 1, 1888. His mother, whose maiden name was McMakin, died when he was an infant and his father was killed in a mine accident a year ago last July. After receiving a common school education, he went to work and and for a number of years was employed in the office of John Small, a prominent contractor, but for the past several years he had conducted ...[illegible]... Chicago are uncles and Mrs. Clementine Collins of Collinsville his step-mother.

Julius was a young man of exemplary character and habits and was admired by all who knew him. He was an energetic and capable young man and as such was successful in his undertakings. He was the author of "A Soldier Boy's Creed," an outline of nine points for guidance of soldier boys, which was published in The Call in its issue of July 12th. The creed was inspired by thinking over why he was in the army and the part he was to play in the present world undertaking. He admitted that the thoughts outlined had helped him and he had them printed on cards for distribution to other soldier boys in the hope that they would help them, too."

Julius Franklin Collin's headstone; courtesy of member DianaR

Julius Franklin Collins was buried in the Troy City Cemetery.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

I have written about Julius and his Creed before but have learned more details about his life since then. Thanks to a contact made as a result of this blog with one of his brother John's descendants.

Julius Franklin Collins was born on 1 August 1888 in Troy, Illinois, to William and Ida May (McMakin) Collins. His father had immigrated to the U.S. from England with his parents as a young boy. His mother died when he was an infant. He married Edith Audrey Wolff on 28 February 1918 and joined the Army on 12 May 1918. He shipped to France with his unit on 1 August 1918 and was killed in France on 30 September 1918.  Julius Franklin Collins was the step-son of my great great grandmother Clementine (Wells) Riggin Collins.

More posts about my ancestors who fought in World War One

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Out of Africa: Daniel and the Soldier Ants

My Aunt Joan's father was a missionary in British East Africa in the 1920s. Her older brother, Homer, wrote an unpublished memoir about his life, and included many stories of the family's time in Africa. He followed in his father's footsteps and returned to Africa as a missionary in 1933. This is another story from his memoir:

Bunyore, Kenya is a beautiful place in a tropical equatorial kind of way. The setting is surrounded by small African huts all thatched amidst groves of broad banana leaves. Outcroppings of granite stand out over the area as sentinels and tall eucalyptus sway in the breeze. 

Modern photograph of Bunyore, Kenya

We had good friends at the Bunyore Mission Station and went to visit them for a few days. Our son was a baby at the time. Having finished his last feeding for the evening, he was burped and nicely bedded down for the night. The netting was suitably tucked about the bassinet to shield from the hungry mosquitoes. The whole setting was calm and serene under a starlit, gracious night.

We were aroused from our slumbers by small sounds of pain from the wee one. Mother seemed to be the first of us aware of the baby's cry. She rolled out of bed to see what could be wrong. Turning up the lamp wick, she began the search for the reason. As she turned back the netting, and blankets, she instantly became aware that something was crawling on her feet and legs. Not only crawling, but also biting very hard. By this time she had found soldier ants (also called Army ants) within the baby's diapers, latching on to his little body. 

Drawing of an Army ant; courtesy of PLOS | Biology

This called for help; we had to do something instantly. Mother took hold of those vicious ants to pull them loose, but they clung tight until they came apart. They simply would not give up their hold on the wee body of our son. Baby Dan was most unhappy not knowing what to make of this rude awakening. 

Everyone was up by this time. There was no sleeping in this kind of situation. Getting a kerosene lantern, we began to scout the outside of the home. The ground was covered with soldier ants -- millions of them. We discovered they were using a one-inch piece of rope to make their way up and inside the house. Even the bats in the attic were under attack. They were literally devoured by ants.

The old expression "ants in one's pants" in such a case is not a bit funny. So what was to be done about the situation. Native people back through the dim past had used hot ashes to turn away these attacks and they were what we used that night as well. We took all the ashes from the stove in the kitchen, spread a line about the approach area. We also took the spray gun and used a mixture of kerosene with pyrethrum powder which is a very potent control for insects, but not instantaneous.

Let it be said if a baby were to be left alone and the soldier ants found it, life would not long be sustained. So it was that our night was disturbed, but the wee fellow was soon out of trouble.

NOTE:  Previous "Out of Africa" posts:

Doctor Livingstone, I Presume
The Kikuyu
The Eland Hunt
The Hippopotamus Hunt 
Kagui and the Python 
Water Buffalo Trouble
Baboon in the Sweet Potato Patch
Breakfast at Kimingini