Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Thomas Encounter in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1967

I’ve been in touch with my 3rd cousin Russell Thomas, who is a descendant of Charles Franklin Thomas (1854-1927) about whom I’ve written many times.  He shared an interesting story with me about an encounter in 1967 at the Schofield Army Barracks in Honolulu, Hawaii, with a mystery Thomas family member.  I’ll let Russ tell you what happened:

It was a beautiful spring morning in 1967. It was also a Saturday, and we had already had our weekly inspection per Army protocol,  so I and the other Lieutenants in my company where having coffee and doughnuts at a nearby PX in the Schofield Barracks complex.

The PX had an all glass front so you could see who was coming and going. One of my companions said, “Is he lost?” Schofield is an Army base that Japan made famous as they strafed it coming out of nowhere thru Koli Koli Pass on there way to Pearl Harbor, so you seldom see a sailor and it was a justifiable question.

I took a look at him and was dumbfounded because the sailor looked like a younger version of my uncle Gibby whom I had visited the year before in Scottsdale, Arizona.  He was about 21 years old [born about 1945].  I wondered was my Uncle was doing here and why did he look so young?

"Gibby" Thomas about the same age as the sailor was in 1967.

“Gibby” Thomas about the same age as the sailor was in 1967.

I sprang up and surprised the sailor as he entered the door.  His eyes got wide and his jaw dropped down.  He  thought I was a younger version of an uncle from home!  We both knew we were looking at a Thomas but we checked out each others name badges  to confirm it.  He was a Thomas.

Russ Thomas, about 1967.

Russ Thomas, about 1967.

I offered to buy him a cup of coffee, but he said his unit commander had asked him to get coffee and doughnuts and he had to get right back.  Apparently they worked out of a secret bunker on secret stuff that he was not allowed to discuss.  I gave him my phone number but he told me right up front that he didn’t have access to a phone and rarely got out of the bunker as it was all hush hush.  We vowed to try to get together somehow but it didn’t happen.  The whole encounter didn’t last ten minutes.

I was curious enough to write Gramma [Belva Bisnette Thomas] about the encounter. She wrote back and said (now this is where my memory fails me) that Catcher had a relative that took off for parts unknown, but they think he went to Oklahoma or some other midwest state.

So there you have it.  A Navy sailor with the last name Thomas born about 1945 stationed at the Schofield Army base in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1967.  I’m posting this just because it’s an interesting story, and also because just maybe someone will find this story online and know who the mystery sailor was.

I’ve dropped the Schofield base a line asking how I might look for someone named Thomas stationed there in 1967.  I will report back if I find anything.


Possible Family of Beriah Thomas

By his own word, my 5x great-grandfather, Beriah Thomas (1742-1836) was born in the town of Simsbury, Connecticut.

Brief Autobiography of Beriah Thomas, 1832

Brief Autobiography of Beriah Thomas, 1832

That he [Beriah] was born in Simsbury in the State of Connecticut and is ninety years old since last February [born Feb 1742], has no record of his age – that he lived in a place called the Nine Partners in the County of Dutchess, State of New York during the Revolutionary War – since that period has been in West Stockbridge, County of Berkshire, Massachusetts and in Grand Isle Vermont from whence he removed to Chazy aforesaid whence he now resides and has resided twenty years last March.

Simsbury is a very old town, having been settled in the 1630’s and incorporated in the 1670’s.  They do have a fair amount of records from the early days, so I wrote to the Simsbury Historical Society to ask them about Beriah’s birth and his family.  There was no 100% answer, but they had a lead on a couple that was married in the right time and place to be possible parents to Beriah:

Beriah Thomas is not listed in the First Church records for Simsbury (one of the best local sources for that early time period).  He is also not listed in the DAR publication, Simsbury Soldiers in the War of the Revolution.  There is a Sarried Thomas listed.  Beriah may have been living elsewhere by that time and served in a military unit from another area. [He was in Nine Partners, Dutchess County, NY]

In town there were a couple of Thomases in approximately the time period.  John Thomas married Abigail Griffin March 27, 1735.  Abigail Thomas, their daughter, was born October 2, 1736.

There are a few other documents and trees I’ve managed to find that list John Thomas and Abigail Griffin as the parents of Beriah Thomas.  In fact, here’s one sent to me by the Chazy Historical Society.  It’s from the 1960’s and lists the relationships mentioned:

Beriah Thomas FHC Form from 1967.

Beriah Thomas FHC Form from 1967.

This document was sent to the Chazy Historical Society by a John Soule, who said Beriah Thomas was his 4x great grandfather (so, born around 1940, likely). This was sent about June or August 1967. Courtesy of the Chazy Historical Society. It shows that Mr. Soule believed John Thomas and Abigail Griffin of Simsbury, CT were the parents of Beriah Thomas.

I can’t know why Mr. Soule believed this, so as it is it’s just another piece of circumstantial evidence.  The quest to prove this relationship goes on.  Abigail Griffin’s lineage is known back to her immigrant ancestor, Sergeant John Griffin (1608-1681),  so that would be exciting if some additional documentation could be found.

There are some FHC films of Simsbury Records which might help:

Town records v. 1-2 1670-1713 Family History Library  US/CAN  Film 1314486 Items 1-2
Town records v. 2 1/2 1693-1720 Family History Library  US/CAN  Film 1451348
Town records v. 3-4 1719-1832 Family History Library  US/CAN  Film 1314486 Items 3-4

The other interesting tidbit I’ve found recently was regarding an Oliver Thomas.

He crossed my radar because in the 1790 Census for East Stockbridge, Massachusetts [where Beriah can be found], he is the only other Thomas in that Census.  I did some digging on Fold3.com and it turns out this Oliver Thomas was also in the Revolutionary War, and per his pension statement he was born in 1743 [one year difference from Beriah].  It’s a bit of a longshot since Oliver served under Captain Orange Stodder in Colonel Joseph Voce’s Regiment of the Massachusetts Line for the term of three years, and not in the New York Militia as Beriah did.  Still… the last name, age, veteran status, and appearance in the East Stockbridge Census alongside Beriah make him a possible candidate for being Beriah’s brother.


The Artwork of Olga Hanson Schmidt – Part IV

Another installment of artwork from my great-grandmother, Olga Johanna Hanson Schmidt (1891-1990).

Part One is here: Artwork of Olga Hanson Schmidt

Part Two is here: Artwork of Olga Hanson Schmidt – Part II

Part Three is here: Artwork of Olga Hanson Schmidt – Part III

[As always you can click on each item to see a larger version, or to download the file.]


The first two paintings, both of river scenes, are owned by John Voght, Olga’s grandson:

John Voght 2

John – River Scene 1

John Voght 1

John – River Scene 2

The next painting, a still life of flowers in a vase, is owned by Alicia Kamenick, Margaret Schmidt’s grand-daughter.  She said of it:

” I didn’t even know this painting existed until this fall. I was visiting Ann in Santa Fe, and she had a couple of Olga’s paintings and asked if I would like one.  An easy decision.  I grew up with the ones my mom has in her house – a winter landscape and a still life with fruit.  Not knowing she [Olga] had done so many paintings, this one just made me happy to see it – I loved the colors.”

Alicia - Flowers in Vase

Alicia – Flowers in Vase

The next two paintings are owned by Mary Voght, Margaret Schmidt’s daughter:

Mary Voght - Still Life

Mary – Still Life

RiverScene_MaryVoght

Mary – River Scene

The next three paintings are owned by Peggy Kamenick (Margaret Schmidt’s daughter):

Still Life

Peggy – Still Life

Fall Lake Scene

Peggy – Fall Lake Scene

Autumn Gourds

Peggy – Autumn Gourds

It is believed that the next painting of horses in a field is owned by Karen Krueger Schulz, daughter of Norma Schmidt. This photograph (cropped from a photo of Olga in her home in 1971) is the only copy of this painting I have so far. It was a favorite of my mother’s, and when she was growing up she’d spend hours staring at it. It was always displayed over the couch in Edwin and Olga’s living-room:

OlgaSchmidtHorses

Horses in Field

The last painting, “Madonna and Child”, is not like any of Olga’s other work because it was a copy of an existing work. This is her “grisaille”-style interpretation of the painting “Madonnina” by Roberto Ferruzzi. It was displayed in her living-room for many, many years, and was likely painted in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. My mother remembers seeing it as a very young girl. It passed to Margaret Schmidt, who passed it to Mary Voght when Margaret died. It was damaged in a basement flood (the scars of which it still carries), and has since come into my possession. It’s a breathtaking work.

Madonna & Child, Full View

Madonna & Child, Full View

Madonna & Child, Detail

Madonna & Child, Detail


Krueger Family Card Gatherings

I stopped in to see my Uncle Karl Krueger today at his shop, and we had the chance to talk family history briefly.  He discussed something I’ve heard many other family members talk about before, the Krueger Family love of playing cards, but he told it in a way that was very amusing, so I thought I’d share.

“Yeah, dad’s grandpa [Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Krueger] and that whole family spoke German… I remember when I was a kid, every once in a while the whole Krueger gang would get together at somebody’s house to play cards.  It was… well, we called them the ‘great aunts’ and ‘great uncles’, but it was [Heinrich Krueger’s children] Agnes, and Eddie, and Alfred, and Norma, and Elsie, and of course grandpa [Oscar Krueger].  They’d set up a bunch of card tables and there would be snacks and beer.  And these were… they were sort of stern-looking, serious, very proper people when they’d arrive.  Kind of aloof.  But, boy, I tell you… you get two beers in ’em!  All of a sudden it was nothing but jokes, and laughing, and hooting, and hollering!    They made a racket!

And they’d start speaking German.  At first, before they had any beer, everything was proper and sort of calm, and they were dealing the cards out carefully and speaking in English.  But then, two beers later… there would start to be be a little flush in the cheeks, you know?  And they’d start speaking German.  And telling jokes in German!  I didn’t speak it, but you could tell they were jokes because of the cadence of the voice of the person talking… and everyone else would be quiet and listen, and then there would be a punchline of some kind and the whole room would erupt in laughter.  All of the normal talk of dealing the cards and so forth was all in German too.  It used to make grandma [Edith Curtis] so mad!  Because she didn’t speak German and she just *knew* that they were all laughing at her, and talking about her.  They weren’t of course.  They were just telling jokes and laughing with each other.

Dad [Lloyd Krueger] only knew a couple things in German, and one of them was “töten die roten Hahn”, which meant “Kill the red rooster”.  I don’t know what that’s from.  If it was from a joke, or it had to do with playing cards… but that was one phrase that dad would say sometimes.”

[It seems that “Wir töten den alten roten Hahn” is a lyric to the German version of “She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain”.  “We’ll kill the old red rooster when she comes”, is the lyric.]

Krueger Family Card Game c1980

Krueger Family Card Gathering c1980

Back table: Edith Curtis Krueger, Oscar Krueger, Eddie Krueger, Laura Hanke Krueger (hidden). Front table: Alfred Krueger, Agnes Krueger Passow, Elsie Krueger Madden, unknown.  Harvey Krueger’s home. Courtesy of Harvey Krueger.

KruegerCards1980

Krueger Family Card Gathering c1980

Edna Curtis Krueger, Oscar Krueger, Laura Hanke Krueger, Eddie Krueger, Agnes Krueger Passow (l to r). Playing cards was a staple of Krueger gatherings. These photos show many of the siblings gathered for a game of cards at Harvey Krueger’s home. Courtesy of Harvey Krueger.


Thomas Family Picnic 1930

It’s a tiny photograph.  Probably 2.75 inches by 1.75 inches.  But I was intrigued by it as soon as I saw it.  This was about two years ago.  The photo was part of the archives of my grandparents, Fred & Jean Thomas.  It then went to my father, and then to me.  There was a note clipped to the photo that had the names of several people.  Almost immediately I could tell the note was not correct because there were people in the note who were definitely not in the photo. The photo seemed to be from the late 20’s or early 30’s, judging by the cars in it and the clothing people were wearing.  It was clearly a Summer picnic of some kind.  There were picnic baskets, and everyone seemed  dressed for an outing.   There are 23 people in the photo, 14 adults and nine kids. [Click on the photos to enlarge or download]

Thomas Family Picnic, c1928

Thomas Family Picnic, c1928

I sent the photo to everyone in my family I could think of at the time.  And the answer I got in each case was, “I don’t recognize anyone in this picture at all.”  Dead end. Then, gradually, as the months passed, I started getting other pictures from all corners of the family of various people from that generation.  I started to learn the faces of the previous generations of my family. A few months ago, I said to myself, “I think that’s my grandfather in the lower left corner”.  He’s seated with his legs apart and with a sort of defiant look on his face.  That let me know about when the photo was taken.  Sometime between 1928 and 1930, based on my grandfather’s age.  I think it’s closer to 1930.  Here’s a photo comparing him in the group shot to a photo of my grandfather as an older man.

Fred Thomas Jr.

Fred Thomas Jr.

The next person I felt like I recognized was my grandfather’s “Aunt Anna”, Anna Thomas:

Anna Thomas McKenney

Anna Thomas McBride

A couple of days ago, I took a look at the photo again, and I noticed that the man in the back next to Anna looked like her husband Bill McBride.  The style of hat he is wearing in the photo I have of him is even similar.

Bill McBride

Bill McBride

One of the boys in the front row looks like my Great Uncle Charles Fogg Thomas.  Since Charles is still around (at 89 years old!), I sent him an email and he confirmed that it was indeed him in the photo: “Charles, that does look like me at that time.”

Charles Fogg Thomas

Charles Fogg Thomas

He also identified his brother Horace David Thomas as the boy sitting next to him:

Horace David Thomas

Horace David Thomas

Having tentatively identified these folks, I sent the photo back again to a couple of cousins.  My Great-Uncle Charles joined in too: “The woman in the front row with glasses looks like Aunt Claire [Muncy] Thomas.”

Claire Muncy

Claire Muncy

He continued: “Maybe Uncle Erwin is in the center and my dad [Frederick Thomas Sr.] to the left of Bill.”

ErwinThomas

Robert Erwin Thomas

Fred Thomas Sr.

Fred Thomas Sr.

It was reassuring that he said that, because I had definitely come to the conclusion that the two men in question must be brothers.  They looked like the same person a few years apart!  Once Charles said one was my great-grandfather, I immediately was struck by how much he looked like my father as a younger man.  In the side-by-side comparison you can see that the distinctive nose and ears are the same. Another easy identification (once I had another photo of her) was my great-grand aunt Olive “Eva” Bacon, who was the sister of my great-grandmother Delia Bacon, and who took in my grandfather after his mother died.

Olive Bacon

Olive Bacon

She’s wearing the same expression and hair-net look in both photos I have of her. I believe the man standing just behind Olive Bacon is her husband Jim Halloran.  Although not much of his face is visible, the chin seems to be distinctive.  There is some kind of dimple or scar on his right side near the chin that is the same in both photos.

Jim Halloran

Jim Halloran

I also believe that the young woman standing by Fred Thomas Sr. is his oldest child Grace Thomas.  She would have been about 14 years old in the photo.

GraceThomas

Grace Thomas

Because Robert Erwin Thomas and his wife Claire Muncy are both in the photo, I have to believe their daughter Lois Claire Thomas (1926-1953) would have been there also.  She would have been about four years old, and there is only one little girl that age in the photo.  I’m guessing it must be her.  Unfortunately you can only see the top of her head.

Lois Thomas

Lois Thomas


Artwork of Olga Hanson Schmidt – Part III

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

The latest installment of artwork from my great-grandmother Olga Hanson Schmidt (1891-1990) comes courtesy of Sten Voght Cantwell, my 1st cousin once removed.  Enjoy!

StenQuilt7

StenQuilt9

StenQuilt6

Double wedding rings in pink.

Double wedding rings in pink.

StenQuilt1

StenQuilt3

StenQuilt2

Drunkard’s Path in blue.

ChristeningGown

Christening gown with the names of children baptized in the gown sewn into it.

StenWhiteHouse

StenRedBarn

Click here for Part IV


McKenney / Thomas Wedding – Who Are All These People?

I have been in touch with some descendants of my great-grand-aunt Nellie Maude Thomas (16 Jul 1883 – 13 Dec 1936), so I was drawn back to look at a description of her marriage that was found in the archives of my grandparents Fred & Jean Thomas.  I’ll post the clipping first, which describes the marriage that took place on 20 September 1910:

Description of the McKenney / Thomas Marriage

Description of the McKenney / Thomas Marriage

On re-reading it, one thing that jumped out was how many of my relatives are mentioned in the article.  So I thought I’d just say a little something about who they all were… because it’s fun!

“Mr. & Mrs. Horace L. Thomas Sr.” – My great-great grandparents, Horace Luther Thomas (1846 – 1929) and his wife Anna Clifford (1851 – 1929).

“Nellie M. Thomas” – The afore-mentioned Nellie Maude Thomas, daughter of the above couple.

“Guy C. McKenney” – Guy Cleveland McKenney (1884-1957) was a bookkeeper.  He was the son of Joseph McKenney and Anna Stanhope.  After Nellie died he remarried to Mary Eveline Gaylord.

“Mrs. William E. McBride” – Anna Elizabeth Thomas (1876-1971), sister of the bride.

“Robert E. Thomas” – Robert Erwin “Uncle Erwin” Thomas (1887 – 1965), brother of the bride, was very close with my grandfather Fred Thomas Jr.  He was married to Claire Muncy and was a paint and [later] meat salesman.

“Miss Agnes MacBride” – Agnes Helene McBride (1896 – 1994), daughter of Anna and William McBride.

“Frederick C. Thomas” – Frederick Clifford Thomas Sr. (1889 – 1976), my great-grandfather and brother of the bride.  He was only 21 at the time.

“Mrs. H. I. Stanhope” – Mary Lyon Nott (1877 – 1924), who was the first wife of the bride’s Uncle Herbert Isaiah Stanhope (1872-1947).

“Mrs. Floyd Lasalle” – Floyd Albert LaSalle (1878-1952) married Julie Dell “Jessie” Clifford (1879-1967).  Jessie was the first cousin of the bride since her father George Clifford was the brother of the bride’s mother Anna Clifford.

“Mr. and Mrs. I. N. Stanhope” – Isaiah N Stanhope (1842-1921) and Elvira M Aiken (1842 – 1920) were the groom’s maternal grandparents.

“Mr and Mrs. T. L. Peavey” – Thomas Leonard Peavey (1853 – 1932) was the second husband of the groom’s mother Anna Stanhope (1864-1920), so this was the groom’s mother and stepfather.  Anna Stanhope married the groom’s father Joseph J. McKenney (1857-1911) about 1883, then divorced him around 1892.  She then married Mr. Peavey in 1906.  Joseph McKenney had two other wives after Anna: Minnie J. Currier and Abbie C. Williams.

[NOTE: The Rev. George B. Johnson is not, to my knowledge, directly related to me.]