Theophilus and Martha France

In an odd twist of fate, I thought I might share my latest story in search of the family of Theophilus and Martha France.  I stumbled on this photograph when scanning the photos of my Great Great Grandmother.  She married Herbert Coley, whose sister, Martha Ann, is shown above.  This photo was in the collection, likely from Martha France herself, to my Great Great Grandfather Herbert.  The photo just had the two names written on the back of the photo.

Since, I have tried to track down the family with little or no success.  I will give some of the limited history I know at this point and then close with my latest little find.

Theophilus was born 26 December 1863 in Dudley, Staffordshire, England.  He married Martha Ann Coley 4 November 1891 in Logan, Cache, Utah in the Logan LDS Temple.  Martha was born 18 August 1860 in Lutley, Worcestershire, England to Stephen and Hannah Maria Rogers Coley.  I will write more on this family later.

Theophilus was a musician that took the family to various places chasing performing and music instructions.  Mostly in Cache Valley, but also taking in a jaunt to Salina, Sevier, Utah.

Born to the family were 5 children.

Ada France born 1 April 1893 in Franklin, Franklin, Idaho and died 14 February 1957 in Caldwell, Canyon, Idaho.  She married Henry James Flippence.

Marguerite France born 19 October 1894 in Franklin and died 20 Mar 1936 in Logan.  She married George Bright.

Wilford France born 25 Mar 1897 in Lewiston, Cache, Utah and died 28 August 1986 in Los Angeles County, California.  He married Elsie Arvilla Brown.

John France born 22 May 1899 in Lewiston and died 18 June 1953 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.  He married Meryln Burton.

Beatrice France born 16 October 1901 in Lewiston and died 14 October 1997 in Salt Lake City.  She married Robert Wallace Ekenstam.

From the census records, it appears Martha had a son (maybe a brother) named Frank.  He appears and then disappears.  I believe he was a cousin who came over from England and then died, married, or just moved away.  I cannot trace him down again, so this is one question I have always wanted to answer.  But finding a member of this family has not proved easy.

I knew Theophilus and Martha are buried in the Lewiston Cemetery.  Her brother, George, and their parents, Stephen and Hannah, my Great Great Great Grandparents are also buried there.  Theophilus died 30 October 1923 in Lewiston.  I do not even know where Martha died, other than on 18 July 1949.

George Bright and Marguerite Coley had at least 8 children, but only one of them lived to marry.  I knew her name was Gennevieve Bright and that she had married a man by the name of Elvon Monson Jensen 22 April 1947.  He died in 1990 and trying to track down a lady Jensen in Utah or Idaho, especially where she could have remarried, seemed an impossible task.  I left it there and tried some of the other lines.

This past week I was in my office and visiting with the wife of the other attorney who I rent office space.  I knew Kent was from Preston and in a lull of the conversation asked the name of Kent’s parents.  She mentioned Elvon and Gennevieve.  I could not tell where, but I knew that Elvon Jensen was in my family history.  That night I looked him up and sure enough, there he was.  I rent office space in Burley, Idaho from my 3rd cousin, once removed!  Kent’s children are my 4th cousins.

It was with some sweet satisfaction that I was able to provide a copy of the photograph above to him.  He had not seen a picture of them before.  I asked that he put me in contact with the member of his family who does the family history on the France/Coley line.  Maybe I can help bridge some of the divide and flesh out more fully the Coley line in Utah and Idaho.

The picture above was scanned in 2006.  Who knew that I would be providing a photo of ancestors to a line who did not have a photograph.  Maybe there will be more such stories in the future with all the photos I have and continue to make available.  We can only hope.

Meredith – Graham Wedding

William and Mary Graham are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Damey Catherine Graham to James Thomas Ross, son of James Meredith and Nancy Shepherd.  James and Damey were married 9 August 1887 in Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia.

I am stepping into a bit of a minefield in writing this biography because there is such a wide variety of opinions on the history of this family.  The stories I have were handed down and cannot be verified.  Some claim to have documents but I have been unable to obtain copies of these documents for various reasons.  These purported documents are family records and the public records I cannot find.  Therefore, hopefully documentation will come forward and this post will be altered as that information presents itself.  Poor Damey, not much conversation is available about her because there is so little controversy.

The picture above is of James Ross Meredith, or I assume he was called that at that time.  James Thomas Meredith was born to Nancy Adeline Shepherd 22 September 1869 in Snowville, Virginia.

In 1951, a few months before his death, James was interviewed by his granddaughter, Donna Beachell.  She indicated his mind was very clear.  He indicated to Donna that he was born out of wedlock and that his real father was James Meredith.  He said he was born in Snowville, Virginia.   He also said this James Meredith adopted him when he was about 4 years old and raised him.  He said the courts gave him the name James Thomas Ross Meredith.

The records of Pulaski County indicate this:

“Order Book 5, page 25
September 2, 1873
On the motion of Anderson Linkous, Overseer of the Poor for High Wassie Township for an order to bind James Ross aged 3 years son of Nancy Ross who has become a county charge and it appearing to the Court that said James Ross is now a county charge.  It is ordered that said Overseer of the Poor bind out according to Law to James Meredith the said James Ross son of Nancy Ross aged 3 years until he attains the age of 21 years and besides teaching him reading, writing and arithmetic said Meredith shall be required to pay the said James Ross upon his attaining the age of 21 years the sum of 100 dollars.”

The courts recognized him as James Ross, probably after his mother’s married name.  I have been unable to locate a birth record for him under either name.

He was almost 5 years old when Nancy Ross went into the poorhouse, or at least when the county gave little James to old James Meredith.  I am not sure why they thought he was 3.  Although some records have him born in 1869, and if this was correct, he was just shy of his 4th birthday.  But I will stick with the birthday that he gave during his life.

The county placed James Ross into the charge of James Meredith until he was 21 years of age.  Unfortunately, nobody seemed to ask when this James Meredith was born.  We also do not know when this old James Meredith died, or if he raised him until he was 21 (and paid the $100).  After James and Damey married, John Phibbs (brother-in-law to Fanny Ross) remembered visiting the family in West Virginia and that James’ mother, Nancy lived with her son and daughter-in-law, James and Damey, for much of the time the family lived in West Virginia.    Apparently Nancy was strong enough to carry in heavy sacks of coal and potatoes by herself.  This probably would have been the turn of the 20th century since they were in West Virginia.  No mention is made of old James Meredith who was the father and supposedly raised him.  Nancy must have kept contact through the years, lived close enough, or even got little James back.   We have so many holes to fill with information that we will likely never have.

Clarita Morgan, a researcher in Pulaski County in the 1970’s wrote to Donna and told her it was not uncommon for ladies to be placed in the poorhouse for having a child out of wedlock.  These women were considered a menace and a burden to the community.  At any rate, Nancy Shepherd Ross lived an especially hard life.  It is hard to put ourselves into their scene or time without many more facts.

When James married Damey, the marriage certificate has J. R. Mearideth.  Yet, when all the children were born, James and Damey gave them each the Ross name (or so it seems).  Damey died under the Ross name and no records indicate she ever went by the Meredith name.  James is listed as a farmer.

When James went to the LDS temple on 20 June 1935, he gave his name as James Thomas Ross born 22 September at Snowville, Pulaski, Virginia.  He gave his father as James Thomas Ross and mother as Nancy Shepard.  He also gave his baptismal date as 17 April 1898.  Nothing in any of the records provide any evidence of a James Thomas Ross to be his father, and either the recorder at the Temple put the wrong last name, or James made a mistake because he seems to have clearly known his father was James Meredith (was his father’s middle name really Thomas?).  When Fanny went to the LDS temple on 20 June 1923 she said her parents were James F Ross (misread?) and Damy C Graham.

Now, having said all that, one of the difficulties is that there are tons of James Merediths who lived in Pulaski County, Virginia.  In the 1880 Census, little James Meredith is living with elder James Meredith who was born in 1804 and the family lived in Hiwassie.  It is not uncommon for a 65 year old man to have a child.  However, elder James Meredith has a family of 10 children with his wife.  In that census, only elder and little James are shown as living together.  Elder James’ wife, Sarah (Sallie) Jane Bell Meredith, is “ill” and living with their daughter Sarah Jane Meredith Elkins.  I want to speculate but will not.

For years it was thought that James and Sarah Meredith’s son, James Anderson Meredith, was the father of our James Thomas Meredith.  But this was easily resolved in that James Anderson Meredith died in 1864 in a battle at Lexington, Lexington, Virginia, four or five years before little James Meredith was born.  Others thought that James Meredith, the son of Hugh Meredith Jr elder James Meredith’s brother, was the father.  He is four years older than Nancy and their ages seem more conducive to a relationship.  But, we are unable to track him down and prove anything for certain.  But one thing is sure, elder James Meredith told the census taker in 1880 that little James Meredith was his son.  I guess we have to move forward with that record as the basis for our assumptions.  Would the Uncle (elder James Meredith) of James Meredith (Hugh Jr’s son) ruin his good name by claiming little James Meredith as his own to save the name of his nephew?  I just do not know, but the census gives documentation of a relationship (we all know how terrible the census records are for accuracy other than names of family members and location of living).  (Some of my original research and ruminating on these issues can be found here.)

This begs the question of why 27 year old Nancy would have intimate relations with 65 year old and married elder James.  Ms. Morgan above said it was not uncommon for servants living in the home to be taken advantage of by the homeowner.  But we have no evidence that Nancy was a servant in their home.  If he did this and kicked her out, it could account for her being in the poorhouse and his reclaiming the child in court.  But we have nothing to support the notion Ms. Morgan suggests.

Well, if this is not enough to confuse the matter, lets jump back in time before James was born to where Nancy married Harvy D Ross 7 June 1860 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.  She married Harvy at 19 years old. On 9 September 1861, Harvy enlisted in Company F, 54th Infantry Regiment Virginia for the Confederacy.  He left for military service and we have few details of when he returned.  She bore James Meredith in 1868 and as far as we know, Harvy had not yet returned from the war.   By 1870 Harvy was back living in Alum Ridge, Floyd, Virginia after the Civil War. We do not know when he left Virginia for the “west”.  William Andrew Ross was born on 10 October 1873 in Snowville.  The birth index for Pulaski County lists William as a bastard, but his death certificate lists Harvy Ross as the father!  (Death certificates are highly unreliable for parental information.)  But why they were not back living together in 1870, we do not know.  He was back in the area and could very well be the father of William.  I just wish we had more information.  He supposedly moved to Tennessee or Kentucky and passed away there, never having anything to do with his son William, if he really is the father.  William was raised by Nancy and was told by her that Harvy was his father.  William never had a memory of meeting his father.

Now that I have given more history of Nancy Adeline Shepherd in this biography of her son and daughter-in-law, we can move on.  Our documentation is weak of who little James Meredith’s father is and where he was until he married Damey.  Although, I should mention that a cousin who claims he is in possession of the journals of James Meredith (or Ross) indicates that he was raised by elder James Meredith to believe that elder James was actually his father.  Well, rephrased, he never had any doubt elder James Meredith was his father.  Therefore, we move forward on that assumption even though I have only hearsay from a cousin (as I cannot get a copy of the book) and an 1880 census record.

Damey Catherine Graham was born 25 November 1874 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia to William and Mary Graham.  William, her father, was a laborer on farms who moved to the mines.  As a miner he moved where the best paying jobs for mining were located.  In Virginia, the family worked in the iron mines.  Damey met James and probably knew him and his family growing up.  Hiwassie appears to be a very small town, even today.  I cannot imagine that James and Damey did not know each other growing up.    The two married in 1887 and began to raise their family.  All four children were born in Virginia.

Robert Leonard Ross was born 25 April 1888 in Draper, Pulaski, Virginia.

John “Jack” William Ross was born 2 September 1890 in Pulaski, Pulaski, Virginia.  Read more about John at this link: Ross-Sharp Wedding

Fanny Elizabeth Ross was born 18 November 1893 in Reed Island, Pulaski, Virginia.  Read more about Fanny at this link: Calvin and Fanny Phibbs

James Thomas Ross was born 19 October 1895 in Radford, Montgomery, Virginia.

Damey chose to be baptized into the LDS faith 27 February 1898 (a few months before James).  Family tradition holds it was in West Virginia but does not seem to hold up with the rest of the story.  James and Damey were supposed to have followed her family to West Virginia to the mines.  James and Damey do not seem to appear on the 1900 Census but Damey’s family were still in Hiwassie on the 15 June 1900.  Damey’s family moved shortly after 1900 to West Virginia to work in the coal mines of McDowell County.  James and Damey (and James’ brother, William) followed and were living in McDowell County, West Virginia for sure in 1906 when Fanny married Calvin Dickerson Phibbs in Welch, McDowell, West Virginia.  The first three children all married in McDowell County.  James Jr returned to Mayberry, Carroll, Virginia in 1913 to marry his wife.  On 10 May 1910, James and Damey were living in Big Creek, McDowell, West Virginia.

James and Damey Ross left Pulaski County about 1913 or 1914 and headed to settle in Rupert, Minidoka, Idaho.  James confirmed his brother a member of the LDS church 26 October 1913, so it had to be after that date.  As mentioned above, Fanny had married Calvin Phibbs and most of the Phibbs family of Virginia had moved out to Rupert in 1912.  The opening of the new farm land in Minidoka and Cassia Counties, a new sugar factory at Burley, Cassia, Idaho, and an economic downturn in McDowell County propelled the move for both families. Robert, John, and James Jr followed later as it does not appear any of the children went with James and Damey when they left.

James & Damey Ross

James & Damey Ross

James and Damey set up house in Rupert for a time probably living with Calvin and Fanny until they could find and afford a suitable place to live.  We do not know exactly where James and Damey lived for much of their time in Idaho because they appear to have rented.  Robert listed his parents as living in Idahome, Cassia, Idaho when he registered for the World War I draft in 1918.  That fall, James and Damey apparently moved to Paul, Minidoka, Idaho to work on the first sugar beet campaign of the newly built sugar factory in Paul.  They remained there until about 1926.  Robert married Rose Sanders (nee Clawson?) in Burley, Cassia, Idaho in 1919.  John met Ethel Sharp Streeter in Paul while visiting his parents in 1919 and married her in early 1920.  James and Damey somehow fail to appear on the 1920 Census, or their names are transcribed incorrectly.  James settled in Vernal, Uintah, Utah and attempted a short move to Rupert in 1922-23 to be closer to family before moving back to Vernal.  Milo Ross, James and Damey’s grandson, remembers his grandparents living on the north side of the tracks in Paul when he lived there 1925-1926.

In 1925, James and Damey’s daughter-in-law, Ethel Sharp Ross passed away.  John, their son, sought work and James and Damey took in all four of the children of Ethel.  The baby, Earnest Jackson Ross, died in September in Rupert, where he was being tended by the Phibbs.  By the spring of 1926, James and Damey were impoverished enough that they asked Ethel’s family to come get the children from Paul.  Apparently shortly after, the family moved again.

By 2 April1930, James and Damey had moved to Bend, Deschutes, Oregon.  Robert apparently lived in the area and Robert’s son, Orson Lee Ross, was also living with James and Damey.  Robert is in Portland but appears to not live there, so this home in Bend may have been Robert’s or James and Damey were tending Orson, who was 9.  Robert later died in Bend in 1944.

James’ journals indicate they lived in Merced, Merced, California for most of the 1930’s.  Damey passed away in Marysville, Yuba, California 3 February 1933 of colon cancer.  Her death notice in Rupert indicates she died after an operation for cancer of the stomach.  She had been in the hospital for five months previous to that.  The obituary also mentions that John lived in Manteca, San Joaquin, California, James in Lapoint, Uintah, Utah, and Robert in Marysville.  Fanny was still living in Rupert.

James returned to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah and on 20 June 1935 he was endowed, saw Damey’s proxy ordinance work was completed, and was sealed to her.

By about 1936, James was back visiting family in the east.  He spoke at a Conference of the LDS church that had met in Grundy County, Tennessee.  James spoke that morning to the assembled crowd.  That same day, James’ nephew, Howard Ross was baptized.  These conferences were a big deal because it was an all day event for James’ brother’s family to travel all the way from Gary, West Virginia to Tennessee, spend the day in meetings, and then go home.  Howard remembers meeting “Uncle Jim” for the first time that day.  Many people enjoyed the sermon he gave and came up to give their commendation to William and Sarah on his fine speech.  William’s wife, Sarah, had to set them right, that it was William’s brother, James who delivered the sermon.  Howard did not hear the sermon because in those days unbaptized children were not allowed into the meetings and even though he was to be baptized that day, he was not baptized yet.

“Uncle Jim” returned with the family to West Virginia and stayed for a couple of weeks.  James was so disappointed that the family did not have a cow for milk that he went out and purchased one for the family while he was there.  When James left, he took and sold the cow too.  The family recalled how rare it was for them to have milk, and it was many years before they would have it again.  James was also noted by the family for his girth and the sheer capacity to each large amounts of food.  Howard thought he must have pushed to near 300 pounds.  Howard also remembers that Uncle Jim was missing a finger and upon asking, James indicated that he had been bit by a spider and that the Dr. took off the finger to save his life because the finger had started to rot.

The story goes that James married while he was visiting the family in West Virginia.  Family history records have James marrying Etta on 6 June 1936 in Snowville, Virginia.  However, later information indicates this was Henrietta Fountain who was born in Sacramento, Sacramento, California and died in Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona.  How she met James and why they would have married in Virginia does not add up, especially where she was from the west.  A cousin has the marriage in Sacramento which seems much more accurate.  A death certificate at some point will rest the case.  Her full maiden name was Henrietta Fountain and she was a widow of Charles Henry Lowell in 1925.  She died in 1946 according to the memories of Milo Ross and he is accurate.

James and Etta relocated to Lakeport, Lake, California after their marriage.  Lakeport was a town for the wealthy and Ms. Etta must have brought the money into the marriage.  It was here that James applied for Social Security 4 November 1937.  Due to the requirements he use his legal name, James went by James Ross Meredith the remainder of his life.  He began receiving his benefits 6 January 1938.  On 21 April 1938 he received a letter indicating he would have to have been a resident of California 15 years to receive the payments and no further payments were made.

James then married a widow by the name of Nora Brewer.  Her full maiden name was Martha Elnora Cackler and her late husband, Daniel Gordon Brewer, had passed away in 1943.  James and Martha were married in Fresno, Fresno, California 14 July 1947.  She had been born in 1877 in Iowa and died in Fresno in 1974, just short of 100 years old.

James lived until 13 April 1951 when he passed away in Fresno.  He was buried in Belmont Memorial in Fresno.  The last few years of his life, he took back the Meredith name.  Milo Ross, his grandson, indicates this was for Social Security benefits which had to be claimed under the birth name.  Either way, his tombstone reads James R Meredith.  His last letter to Donna Beachell was signed James Ross Meredith.

When he passed away in 1951, he was living at 344 Theta Street in Fresno the home of his widow.  One last thing, apparently while living in Fresno, he served as a Bishop of the LDS church.  We do not know when or where, but several lines of the family were all aware of this.  More information will be needed to share more.  The fact he was called upon to speak at a conference of the church in Tennessee seems to show he held some position but we don’t know anything more.

Baby Andra Ross

I believe this is the earliest photos I have of my sister, Andra Ross.  She will probably not be entirely pleased that I am displaying the earliest photographs I have of her.  At any rate, with the whole baby kick and trying to find similarities at this point in the game, I thought I should post a picture of my full sister.

Andra Ross was born 16 September in the Cassia Memorial Hospital & Medical Center in Burley, Idaho (the same location as me).  She weighed in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce at 19 inches long.  Her parents are my parents, Milo Paul Ross and Sandra Jonas.  My parents were then residing at 108 N. 3rd E. in Paul, Idaho.  I believe the same address my Mom was living at when I was born.  We also were delivered by the same doctor, Dr. A. L. Kircher.  (If anyone knows his first and middle name, I would not mind having it.)  Interestingly, Sandy purchased a 1956 Dodge Coronet from Dr. Kircher on 22 September 1978.  The same “Old Dodge” in my possession, drivable, and will be lovingly restored at some point.

I do not want to give too much commentary on Andra’s life.  I will make a few mentions about the photos above though.  Notice the full head of hair that she was born with.  Honestly, her chubbiness covers up most of the features that distinguish her later in life.  I look at these photos and do not recognize her.  But then again, the trauma of a giving birth does a number on a baby’s head and facial features and head shape change quite drastically over the first few months.  I will say this.  Looking at Andra’s pictures as she grows older, much of the bone structure and facial features remind me of my Grandma Gladys Ross.  As Andra approached adulthood she took on more of Sandy’s characteristics.  I still personally see much of Gladys in there, but so many people comment on how much she looks like my Mom.  I think they are just going from memory and not comparing the actual pictures.  Anyhow, I see no resemblance, except for hair, between little Aliza and my sister Andra.  (I realize we already have too many “A” names in the family; ie. Amanda, Andra, Aliza, Alyssa).

25th of October

It has been quite the week.  We have replaced the sewer side of our plumbing, moving on to the feed side next week.  We had our ward Halloween Party last night with Trunk-or-Treat, Chili Cook-off, and Costume Contest.  We were there long enough to eat chili but not really do the costume part, even though we did dress up.  I had to walk across the hall and teach my 1.5 hour class on part two of the new FamilySearch website.  The fun part it was completely in my Fitzwilliam Darcy costume.  The class seemed to enjoy it.
Tonight we are having ourselves a Halloween Party at our house.  We have invited over 30 but only about 20 RSVP’d.  It should be fun.  It is for the most part buddies from school.  The interesting fact is that it falls on the 10th anniversary of the murder.  A couple joked they were going to come as an Idaho inmate, but have changed their mind as it was a little tasteless.  I am sure Amanda will post some of the pictures online on our joint blog of the occasion.
I took a mock exam this morning and feel I did fairly well considering only half way through the semester.  I know which areas I need to work on rounding out more of my knowledge and understanding of the specific torts and the elements of each.
This week I have been in contact with some old family friends who were kind enough to share some recollections about the Jonas side of the family.  Here are some excerpts from those communications.
“I woke up in the middle of the night when [Norwood] came home. Yelling, noises, thumping, screaming. I was scared, I had not met him yet. When I heard [voices], I peeked out the door. [Doug] was trying to pull his mother off his dad who was trying to stop [Norwood] from beating Jackie. She was 11 or 12. He was drunk and yelling that Jackie was not his child. Can you imagine the poor child. I had never been exposed to anything remotely like this. TV was not so graphic then. Wow. The next day no one said anything. Pretend it did not happen. I remember Doug suggesting hiding or removing the booze. [Colleen] said that would make him mean so she would not do that. I did not sleep well the entire time I was there. Norwood was cordial to me, even smiled and teased me. He was fine when not drinking.”
“Sandy was drinking and taking Motrin, she told me it was a “good high.” Motrin was prescription at the time and she took it for her constant pain. She had had severe head trauma and reconstructive surgery from the car accident where she totaled Doug”s Opel Cadet 2 1/2 years earlier. She showed me the pictures. Wow. You have probably seen them.”
“[Colleen] said she could not take Norwood’s drinking any longer and was filing for a divorce. Sandy was very upset. She said that if she divorced him they would never be together as a family in the Celestial Kingdom.”
“I must admit that Sandy’s remarks about the divorce struck everyone as being foreign due to her dislike of the church.  But remember it is how you are raised.  She knew nothing else.  I believe that she reverted to a child when faced with the divorce of her parents.  And that child believed in the Celestial Kingdom.  She can not be an atheist, that is just a defense mechanism.  She radically changed her memories of her father after he died.  She embodied him and fought hard with her Mom.”
“[Doug] was very stressed over the fact of his parents divorcing but supported his mother’s decision. In the following months Sandy moved back to Cache Valley. [Doug] used to get late night calls from her. She was usually drunk, unhappy, hated being a Jonas. Hated her mother. She took to wearing her fathers clothes. Right down to his boxer shorts. I don’t know how many times she was in jail for disorderly conduct, drunk in public, open container, drunk driving. The laws were not so strict then. She finally had to leave Logan. The law was not going to tolerate her behavior any longer.”
[Doug and Linda's] wedding was planned for April 12, 1975. [They] mailed the invitations out on March 12th. Doug’s dad was no longer living at home. On March 14th, he was crossing the street and was hit by a 17 year old boy with his younger sister in the car. There are many versions of the story, no one really knows for sure. All I know for sure is…the day [the] wedding announcements arrived everyone was learning that Norwood was dead. It was a very tough time for Doug. He never had the adult relationship with his father that he always wanted, he grieved that loss for many, many years.”

“After the wedding and [the] open house in Richmond, Sandy [went] back to CA. Doug needed his sister and she needed him. She was very depressed and drinking an awful lot.”
“Colleen definitely softened in her memories of [Norwood] after he died.  Occasionally she referred to him as “a son of a bitch.”  With such a tone uncharacteristic of her.  I remember the yelling in the Jonas household.  It was almost like if [the family] did not yell you could not hear them.  I never experienced [Colleen's] wrath, she always spoke calmly to me.  At least that is what I am remembering today.”
“I found her to be a very loving woman.  People seemed to flock to her because of that twinkle in her eye when she smiled.  She was up at 3 am to put every hair in place.  Men started arriving around 6 or so for coffee.  A man she called “big brother”, 2 or 3 others, I do not remember their names.  I remember I always got dressed before coming down because you never knew who would be there.  It was always fun to watch her laugh.  She could light up a room.”
“When I met her she hugged me and kissed and treated me like I was her friend.  She shared herself with me as if we were close girlfriends.  I wore rings on every finger, she loved my jewelry, I gave her a very special fish ring.  It was silver and kinda wrapped around the finger.  Needless to say she created her signature look beginning then.”

“I really am surprised you had not seen the pictures of your mom after the accident.  She had reconstructive surgery.  They show the rebuilding of her nose and cheek bones.  I was told that her cheeks were plastic.  There was orbital damage.  It truly changed her overall appearance when you look at before accident and after pictures.  I wonder where these pictures are.  They were Colleen’s.  They were pretty gruesome I remember them pretty vividly.”

“I still cannot smell blackberry brandy without fully remembering when [Sandy] rolled the jeep and we were searching the field, in the dark looking for you, terrified.  You were with Grandma and we did not know.  The jeep had the blackberry brandy all over in it because she was drinking from it when she rolled.  She could not remember where you were, she was hurt pretty bad and I think her dog was killed.  No cell phones at the time or we would have found you quicker.  You were an infant, maybe Oct or Nov.  [We] were living in Paul at the time.  We all worked for Circle A, we called it Circle J.”
Anyhow, some interesting insights from an outsider!

The Ross Market

It has been a good bit of fun on the Ross Market this week.  High, low, all over the board.  Thought I would share a little bit.

We leveraged, Wall Street terminology, our investments in order to put a down payment onto our home this summer.  The stipulation in leveraging our assets is that we cannot have more than 50% of the value of our assets in the loan against our investments.  As I am sure we are all aware, the stock market dropped precipitously on Monday.  Luckily I have a great investment rep who called me Tuesday morning informing me I was having a margin call.  Which basically means I have to drop money into pay off some of the loan or they would sell off investments enough to bring the loan back within 50% or less.  Somehow I suddenly found myself in a similar category with all Wall Street.  Cough up money to put on our debt or start selling off.

This probably would not have normally been a problem.  Except when coupled with other events, it made for a difficult situation.  We lost use of all the bank cards for our regular bank in Burley, Idaho.  I previously mentioned that we had fraud coming from Venezuela on that account.  I did not mention we also lost use of a card for another account a week before.  Add that to the situation where we have been dumping money into paying off other debt.  So we were getting pretty close to not having any room to wiggle like I normally like to have.  Then of all things, one of Amanda’s student loans withdrew the October monthly payment twice for some odd reason.  Knowing the Department of Education is a highly sophisticated and intricate agency where money goes and is easily lost, I decided to just bite the extra withdrawal.

Tuesday rolls around and I am squeezed.  My investments money market is where I usually turn for emergencies but all those savings were sucked up into saving my investments from being sold off.  Those savings were not enough in the money market and I now had to move over several hundred dollars to keep my investments from being herded to auction.

No credit cards, no cash cards, and I am left with checks and the U.S. Postal Service!  Wednesday sent checks from bank to bank trying to keep every account I have in black standing.  At one point, I found another check bounced for a reason we have yet to determine and I ended having to borrow $2 from a buddy at school to cover the possible charge for the bounced check.  Holy hannah!

Here we are arriving to Monday tomorrow.  I am happy to report all bank accounts remain in black.  The U.S. Postal Service worked like I needed it and money transferred easily enough.  Sadly, the money I transferred on Friday was not enough to keep the margin call at bay against a sliding stock market and I contributed to a sliding Wall Street on Friday.  I have decided that since they have liquidated a huge portion of my assets, we might as well pay off the entire debt against the investments and reinvest what is left over.

While I have not any real wealth since my debts are higher than my assets, I have seen what assets I do have shrink considerably this past two weeks.  Think about it.  I have a loan against investments sitting at 50%.  If they sell off investments in order to pay the loan, they have to sell around 225% of what they are paying off in the debt.  When you sell off investments, it lowers the bar for what 50% is.  Therefore, to sell off enough to pay the debt down and to keep the debt below 50% of the investments value is a chore.  Then we can see why banks that have leveraged their assets not only lose value, but lose tremendous amounts of money to liquidate and pay off debt.  Their problem is compounded by the fact that when they start such a scenario the investors get a whiff and start selling stock and the bank loses even more assets.  It is a downward spiral that ends in death for the bank.  Luckily, I did not have to worry about investors lowering what I could sell my assets for (beyond what the stock market already did).

Hence, I start a new week definitely less in debt.  However, at a tremendous cost of doing so.  I guess the only real cost is what it costs to sell the investments, and reinvest what is left.  Oh, and what the stock market did in the meantime.  May I be lucky enough to buy with the price lower than what I sold it for rather than higher.

Let me assure you, we are still solvent.  That is not the issue.  Amanda is paid again this week and the influx will certainly breath life into the Ross banking network.  We will live to see another day.  The real question is, Why can’t I get in on the bail out too?  After all, I have just endured what most of them are!

Mom’s letter to Grandpa

Here is a letter we have my mother wrote to her father.  It is very tender and sweet.  In fact, it is heartbreaking.  This shows the soft side of Mom so many do not get to see anymore.  Honestly, this is the Mom I miss.

June 14, 1984

Dear Dad,

Remember when I was 3 yrs old and got my finger cut off.  I can still picture how scared and afraid you were.  I think it hurt you worse than it did me.  Then to hear all the guilt in your voice when you said “How many times have I told you to stay away from the lawn mower”?  How you kept saying “I should have shut it off.”  I know when I lost it again 5 yrs later you were having flashbacks.  But it wasn’t your fault I just wanted to see the blade go around.  I guess I just got started in life on the wrong foot.

Do you remember the pictures that mom took of me cutting your toe nails.  I used to cut your toe nails and calluses off all the time.  You never got mad at me when I’d get too deep.  I was still cutting them even after we moved up to Idaho.

I used to love it when you and I went hunting and fishing.  I still have to grin when I think of the time when that fish slapped my face.  Or when we were up Ox Killer and you had got your deer.  I was watching you gut it.  I picked up this thing and was looking at it.  When I asked what it was and you told me they were its BBD’s.  I got so embarrassed.  You grinned and laughed.  You know I don’t ever remember you laughing out loud.  You always laughed on the inside.  I wish I knew why you did this.

I loved it when Uncle Spence used to call me Little Nor.  It made me feel so proud.  I loved you so much and looked up to you as my idol.  You were the perfect Dad and I wanted to be just like you.  You know I’m more like you than you ever knew.  All the times when you wouldn’t fix my car but made me fix it myself with you looking over my shoulder made sure I did it right.  I thank you for it.

It seemed every time I got hurt you would chew me out.  When I was in that wreck and got my face ripped up you told me I should have been home where I belonged.  When I got my hand hurt there wasn’t much you said but I knew you blamed yourself.  I knew you better than you think or thought.  Your face told the story.  I know why you never would come and see me in the hospital too.  It hurt you so much to see me in pain.  You just couldn’t handle it.  Mom told me that was one weakness you had.  That’s OK, I understand or understood.  I still loved you anyway.

I’m sorry when I moved back to Utah that I didn’t keep in touch with you as much as I should of.  I wished someone would have told me that you and mom separated a little sooner.  It used to kill me when I would come up and talk to you at work.  You totally blew me away the 1st time.  I had never seen you cry before.  We cried on each other’s shoulders.  I would always feel so sad because you always felt so sad.  You know Dad if I would of come up that weekend and seen you maybe you would still be alive today.  I’ve often wondered about that.

When you were killed I wouldn’t and couldn’t believe it until I seen for myself.  Once I walked into Payne’s I knew but I prayed.  I stood over you for hours staring, touching, holding and feeling you.  I wanted to open your eyes.  When I was holding your hand I wanted you to squeeze mine.  When I kissed you I wanted for you to kiss me back.  But you never did.  After a long period of time I started to hallucinate.  I seen you move.  But each time I seen you move I would reach down and touch your hand and it was cold and hard.  I knew that I was just seeing things.  Only in my mind you were moving.  I still didn’t want to believe you were dead.  At the viewing in Webb’s I knew you were trying to talk to me because your mouth had started opening.  I waited and waited hoping you would say something.  But you never did.  At your funeral I gave up, lost hope.  I knew you wasn’t going to get up that’s why I couldn’t stand by your coffin with the family.  I couldn’t except you as being dead.  I still can’t but I know you are.  I was scared when Mom, Doug and Jackie were saying Good-Bye for the last time.  They were in such a big hurry to close the coffin that I didn’t get a chance to get over and say Good-Bye.  But then I think to, that maybe I didn’t want to say Good-Bye either.  It haunts me now because I feel so bad that I didn’t.  Sometimes I wish I had of so that you would let me go.  I will always love you Dad.  I will never ever forget you.

Dad when I met Milo he reminded me of you in so many ways.  Jackie and Mom think so too.  So don’t ever think that you aren’t on my mind.  I named my little boy after you and his dad.  Doesn’t that tell you something.  I’d give anything if you could be here to play with Paul and Sissy.  I know they would love you so very much.  I know you would be proud of them too.  I know you’d like Milo, too.  The two of you would of got along fine.  I sure wish you could of met him.  Milo would have loved you.

Well Dad, I guess I’ve told you everything I had to tell you.  Everything I can think of right now anyway.  I just want to tell you again that I love you and always will.  I won’t ever forget you.  I just wish you were still alive.

Love Always, Sandy

Aeroplane squalls

I thought I would take an opportunity to voice a complaint.  I know it isn’t normally in my nature to complain, usually I try to give the benefit of the doubt or to press forward with the ‘can do’ attitude.  But since nobody else seems too concerned about it, I will air my concerns out where a few may agree.
What ever happened to service?  What happened to the customer, the consumer holding a special place for businesses?  It seems somewhere the status quo, business as usual, and possibly profits have taken over.
Two weeks ago I took a pickup in to have it serviced.  They told me it would be ready on Wednesday.  I returned on Wednesday to have them tell me that more work had to be done and I needed to authorize the work.  What happened to calling me to ask to authorize?  What happened to calling me to let me know the pickup would not be done?  I let it slide and authorized them to do the work.  They then told me it would be done on Friday.  I made it clear to them the truck had to be done first thing on Monday morning because I was supposed to drive it to Pasco, Washington for work.  Not only did I need to drive the truck, it would be left there so taking another vehicle was not an option.  Well, Friday arrived and I called in to make sure it was done, and I was assured the job was completed.  I drove in on Friday to pick it up and it wasn’t even out of the back of the shop yet, let alone completed!  Once again, I let my irritation slide, the changing of my plans, and the trip in to pick up the truck.  Remembering, this requires another person’s help to get a ride in to pick up the truck.  Monday rolls around and the truck is still not completed!  Nobody once again notified me, nobody told me anything.  Finally, Wednesday I pick up the truck, pay the bill, and head home.  My boss moved my trip to Pasco for the Monday after.
I then left my personal vehicle for a service.  The story goes on from there.  When I left my personal vehicle I made it very clear I would be in Pasco, Washington for the week and I would need to be notified if they had any problems or questions.  They said there would be no problem for my coming back the following week.  Well, today, I arrived to find my truck had been looked at but nothing had been done!  I was about ready to start swearing at the man!  He told me I had to authorize the work before it could be done because some gasket needed replaced.  I showed him right on the paper where it said I would be out of town and that I would need to be called.  I asked why I was not called.  He said he did not know.  I told him I had been dropped off and was taking my pickup with me.  I was not a pleased customer!  I drove out of the parking lot vowing I would never again do business of any type with Goode Motor in Burley or Rupert, Idaho.  They have forever lost my business.
In conversation afterward I found out my Dad has had the same problem.  He even notified the manager, Garth Williams of the issue.  I guess he took in his truck to be serviced and they started asking him a bunch of stupid questions.  The guy got huffy with him when Dad told him to go out and get the information from the truck.  After two episodes of this, Dad said he would never do business again with Goode Motor.  So all those who read, here are two customers who are highly unhappy with the business, especially with their service department.  They even gave Dad a coupon for service when he bought the truck and they would not honor the certificate later.  How is that for forging loyal customers.
That episode pretty much tainted the rest of my day for me.  Tonight I sat in the airport for my flight from Salt Lake City to Portland, Oregon.  Our flight was supposed to take off at 7:05 PM.  No, the flight was delayed.  Two hours later I finally board the plane.  Just to press the button on their customer service I went to the Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter and complained.  I told them there should be some reimbursement for my ordeal and they were putting me late.  I lied and said I was going to miss my business engagement.  They offered me their sympathies and basically wished me well.  I told them there was not point of going now and wanted a refund.  This request was denied with a document giving me a phone number to call my complaint.  You would think that customer service would be able to take care of a problem in the airport without my having to make a phone call to listen to some fake woman directing me.  What happened to honoring your word?  What happened to pleasing the customer?
Lastly, I completed McCullough’s 1776 this evening in my hours wait to board my delayed flight.  The discontent I noticed of poor service in the Ford dealership and in Southwest Airlines only turned into more rancor as I thought of what it was we fought for in the Revolutionary War.  We separated ourselves from Britain and fought a war for abuses less than what we currently face with our present government.  What is even more frustrating is the fact that we as Americans let business and government so dictate our lives.  Hey look, they are even going to give me $1,500 of my own money back and then want me to go spend it!  Well, geez, thanks for giving my own money back and then tell me what to do with it!