Monday, January 6, 2014

WikiTree and Me

Since May 2013, I've been a member of WikiTree, a free genealogy site that uses the power of a wiki to help genealogists collaborate on a worldwide family tree.

Although I'm little more than a newbie on the site, I've been invited to participate on the WikiTree blog in two ways: an interview about my genealogy experience, and a blog post. You can find these posts at:

Meet Our Members ~ Pamela D. Lloyd, posted 6 January 2014

WikiTree has been tremendously welcoming and a great way to meet other genealogists. Plus, because it's run collaboratively by genealogists, for genealogists, it's free and promises to stay that way.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Traditions

Genealogy, and genealogy blogs, tend to focus on the past. But, tonight, I'd like to share a bit of the present. For the last couple of years, I've been making calendars to help my stepson Fritz, who has Down's Syndrome, better understand how long he has to wait for important events, such as his birthday or Christmas. Fritzie loves his calendars and loves marking off the days, which he does with the help of a family member, usually his dad.

Here's this year's advent calendar:

What else are we doing this year? We're baking biscotti. Or, to be more accurate, my husband is baking biscotti with Fritzie's help, although I hope to be able to help with tomorrow's batch. He's made at least four different batches so far, in a variety of flavors, and we're all chiming in with suggestions for new flavor combinations. Tonight's batch is orange-almond. I managed to snag a taste from the small stack of imperfect cookies that won't be going back into the oven for their second baking, so I can attest to the fact that they're very yummy.

Friday, December 6, 2013

An Unusual Lullaby: The Whiffenpoof Song

I've just spent about an hour and a half—a small fortune in time, given the number of things I should be doing—listening to versions of The Whiffenpoof Song, which was one of the lullabies my mother used to sing to me when I was a child.

My husband had whistled a snatch of "Beautiful Dreamer" and, in response to my comment about how much I loved it, had laughed and said it was just something he used to hear Bugs Bunny sing when he was a kid. He also mentioned, it was relevant even if I can't remember exactly why now, that he thought Bugs may have claimed to have attended Yale. That was all it took! The next thing you know, I'm searching YouTube for versions of The Whiffenpoof Song.

As lullabies go, The Whiffenpoof Song must be among the more unusual, since it is commonly known as the Yale Drinking Song. But, it was one of my favorites, and I asked for it often. After listening to numerous versions, including several a capella renditions by Yale choristers, I'm convinced that Rudy Vallee, who seems to be the earliest to have recorded the song, sang it the best. Here's one of Rudy Vallee's versions, from 1930:

I found a couple of other Rudy Vallee versions: one may be even lovelier than this one, but visually it had no discernable connection to the song, while the other was an earlier recording and had more sound defects. This song has also been recorded by a number of other artists, including Bing Crosby, The Lettermen, every single class of Yale choristers, Louis Armstrong (in a very altered revision), and even (in a very tiny "unpublished" fragmentary snatch that's part of a medley) Elvis Presley. (You should listen to the Presley version, just for the beauty of it, even if it isn't really this song.)

The lyrics my mother sang, as I remember them, were slightly adapted from the original, which was published as sheet music in 1909, more than a decade before she was born. Most notably, she seems to have left several lines out, and to have changed the word "damned" to "doomed." Also, because my mother's name was Luella and she was often called Lui, I'm sure it was her dwelling we were both thinking of.

Using the lyrics from the WikiSource page for the song (see link in the first paragraph), I've attempted to provide the lyrics as I remember my mother singing them, complete with omissions and my childhood misunderstandings:

To the tables down at Mory's,
To the place where Lui dwells,
To the dear old [???]
We love so well,
See the whiffenpoofs assembled
With their glasses raised on high,
And the magic of their singing casts its spell.
[skipped lines] 
We are poor little lambs
Who have lost our way.
We are little black sheep
Who have gone astray.
Gentlemen songsters off on a spree
Doomed from here to eternity
God have mercy on such as we.

As my mother sang, I imagined the whiffenpoofs as stork- or crane-like birds, sitting around Mory's tables while wearing top hats and carrying lorgnettes, looking very fine and very aloof as they sang the little lambs on their lonely way. The little lost lambs were wandering around pastoral hills and dales, trying to find their way home, and certain they would be lost forever, but I was sure that a shepherd or shepherdess was nearby and would find them before long. My certainty that the lambs were in no danger and would soon be home safe and snug, made this a very reassuring song for me.

I have no idea why, despite the fact that I knew very well that lambs say "baa" I heard my mother sing "bye-lo-bye," but that's the way I remember it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Alpheus McClelland Rote and Ella E. Ward, and their Children

Alpheus McClelland Rote, my great grandfather, was born March 1865 in Pennsylvania. He was the son of William Rote (b. October 1814 in Pennsylvania, d. 11 Dec 1880 in Pennsylvania) and Magdalena, also called Martha, (b. July 25, 1823 in Pennsylvania, d. June 8, 1891).

Ella E. Ward, my great grandmother, was born March 28, 1861 in Mount Holly (or Mount Holly Springs), Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of John E. Ward (b. about 1840, d. ?) and Elizabeth (b. about 1840, d. ?) .

Alpheus Rote and Ella Ward married in 1883. In 1884, Alpheus was listed in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania City Directory, as was his mother, then a widow, at a separate address. Alpheus also appears in the Harrisburg city directories for 1890 through 1896. In 1884, Alpheus was listed as working as a laborer; in later directories, as a brakeman.

Most of the 1890 US Census records were destroyed in a fire, including those most likely to list Alpheus and Ella.

Alpheus and Ella are listed in the 1900 US Census for New Castle, Pennsylvania. Alpheus' occupation is given as "Heater Tin Mill." Ella is reported as having given birth to 7 children, of whom 6 had survived. There were six children living in the home: 

Mabel, daughter, b. April 1886 (14)
Galen, son, b. March 1888 (12)
John, son, b. February 1893 (7)
Emma, daughter, b. April 1895 (5)
Howard, son, b. June 1897 (2)
Minnie, daughter, b. August 1899 (9 months)

In 1908, the Rote home was struck by lightning. My blog post, linked, includes a transcript of the newspaper report.

In the 1910 census, Alpheus and Ella are shown as still living in New Castle. Alpheus is working Odd Jobs, and Ella is listed as having 5 children, with 5 surviving. The children in the home are: Mabel, Gail [sic] W., John, Emma, and Howard. Minnie, the youngest, had died sometime since the previous census.

In the 1920 census, Alpheus and Ella are still living in New Castle. Alpheus is now reported to be a Storekeeper working at a Confectionary Store*. Living with Alpheus and Ella are their children, John, who works as a Inline image 1 (probably Sales) in the Phonograph industry**, and two grandchildren, John H. and Ella L. Faller. It took some doing, but I eventually confirmed that these were Mabel's children***.

In the 1930 census, Alpheus and Ella are still living in New Castle. Alpheus is now listed as the Proprietor of a Confectionary Store, which he owns. Living with them are their daughter, Emma O. Cavander (I think this is a misspelling of Cavender), and three grandchildren, Anna G. Cavender, Henry J. Faller, and Ella L. Faller.

Alpheus died September 29, 1936 and Ella died November 14, 1936. Their obituaries report that Ella Faller was still living with them at the times of their deaths.

*   *   *

Mabel Rote married John Henry (or Henry John) Faller May 13, 1912. The couple had two children: Henry John Faller and Ella L. Faller. Mabel died in early January, 1919; her funeral was held January 10, and she was buried in Greenwood Cemetery on the 13th. Her husband died March 23, 1963. 

Galen Weiker Rote married Lulu P. Craun, of Toledo, Ohio, August 29, 1911. The couple had two children: Marian Virginia Rote, who died as a child, and Luella Jean Rote. (Luella was my mother.) Galen died August 10, 1941. Lulu died February 21, 1966.

John Charles Rote, Sr. married Alice Mae Wimer, 18 Nov 1924 in New Castle. The couple had three children, Janet Louise Rote, John Charles Rote, Jr., and Arthur Lyle Rote. John, Sr. died June 22, 1982. Alice died February 24, 1978.

Emma O. Rote married a Cavender, about whom nothing more is known. The couple had a daughter, Anna Grace Cavender. Emma's date of death is unknown, but sometime after 17 Jun 1944, when a visit to New Castle (she was then living in Detroit) was reported in the New Castle News.

Howard J. Rote married Ruby Mae Brooks June 5, 1919 in Youngstown, Pennsylvania. The couple had two sons, James Russel Rote and Fredrick C. Rote. Howard died January 1974; Ruby died February 1983.

Minnie Rote never married, having died as a child sometime between June 13, 1900 and June 13, 1910.

I have no further information about the seventh child noted by the 1900 census, although I speculate, given the gap between Galen's birth, and John's, that this child might have been born between them.

* The census reports Alpheus as an employee, rather than the owner of the store, but this may be erroneous. Will probably need to research business licenses to get full information.

** This may have bearing on my speculations in Was Granddad in Show Biz?, about my grandfather, Galen.

*** See the following posts to read about how I unraveled this small mystery (most recent, first):

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mom Won Big Bucks in DAR-Sponsored Contest, Circa 1933

Here's a clipping I found in my mother's files. The source information was not noted, so I can't (at this moment) identify the newspaper. My mother, born Luella Jean Rote, grew up in Sandusky, Erie, Ohio, so it's likely this is from one of the local newspapers for Sandusky. Chronicling America lists a number of newspapers for Sandusky, only a few of which would have been active at the time.


The winners of the Lafayette contest which was sponsored by the D. A. R. was announced by Mrs. Macleod Tuesday at Junior High. The winners were two girls from Room 18, Harriet Westover and Luella Rote. Harriet received the first prize of $5 and Luella the second of $2.50. Room 18 is very proud of these two girls as they competed over eighth graders and Senior High students.
There's very little about my mother's childhood in her files. This may even be the only newspaper clipping from that time, although my father still has, in a separate location, a number of my mother's grade school report cards, so I think she must have been very proud of this award.

I'd love to find the original source, with the complete date, and I'd love to learn more about the contest in which the children participated. While I can speculate that this may have been an essay contest, that's only speculation and has no bearing on the actual facts.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wishful Wednesday: I Wish I'd Met Grandpa Lloyd

This post was inspired by the Wishful Wednesday blogging prompt shared by GeneaBloggers. The prompt was suggested by Deborah Carder Mayes of Rambling Along the Ancestral Trail.

I never met either of my grandfathers, and I've always wished I could have.

My father's father, Elmer Bruce Lloyd, died in 1948, many years before I was born. Although the official cause of death was heart problems, his daughter Joy insisted that his death had been hastened by an accident he'd suffered at sea a decade before, damaging his left arm. According to my Aunt Joy, scar tissue from his wounds had grown and wrapped around his heart.

My father's father, whom I'll call Grandpa Lloyd for the sake of brevity, was a naval chief, an Aviation Chief Machinist's Mate, to be specific. He spent much of his adult life at sea, but my father's memories of him are vivid and tell the story of a man who was bigger than life. Nicknamed “The Bull of the Woods” by the members of his squadron, a nickname usually shortened to Bull, Grandpa Lloyd was a tall man of great strength and ability. Although he had left school after the eight grade, he enjoyed reading and continued learning all his life, making him a good match for his college-educated wife.

Grandpa Lloyd was extremely talented when it came to machinery, and to hear my dad talk, there wasn't anything that he couldn't fix. He installed indoor plumbing in the family's two-story home, after having a well dug and working on the well pump, himself. Later, he installed electricity. He also enjoyed making things. Grandpa Lloyd constructed a floor lamp using a propeller as the base, and table lamps using shell casings. He also enjoyed making miniature brass tools, such as a tiny pipe wrench that's actually adjustable. His work wasn't restricted to metalwork, either. He enjoyed carving, and my father still has a rattle my grandfather made, carved from a single piece of wood, with an interior ball that slides up and down inside.

Often stern, Grandpa Lloyd had a wicked sense of humor. One summer, he kept his kids busy with the promise of a swimming hole by encouraging them to dig a hole. When their efforts began to drag, he came home with a package that he set gently on the kitchen table, telling the children he'd brought home explosives to extend their work and that it mustn't be jostled even the slightest bit. Granny Sissy, as we called my grandmother, was up to his tricks, though. So, when it was time to set the table and the package was in her way, to her children's awe and over their frightened protests, she simply picked that package up and flung it in a corner. I don't believe the kids ever got their own personal swimming hole, so it was a good thing there were others in the vicinity of their Florida home.

As expected for a navy man, Grandpa Lloyd was well-traveled. He brought home all sorts of nicknacks from around the world, many from the Far East. When I was a small child, one of my favorite things in my grandmother's house was the cabinet in which the most delicate of the treasures were stored. I loved it when she unlocked the cabinet and allowed me to hold one or the other of the small trinkets and to imagine the place from which it had come. But, I think my favorite item was the laughing Buddha sprawled atop the back of a water buffalo that sat on the bookcase. There was something incredibly magical about this figure, and it was impossible to see him without smiling right back at him.

My best memories about my grandfather were the many stories my father told about him, such as the one I shared here, regarding the explosives. Even my grandfather's death remains a legend in the family. It seems that he was holding one of my cousins when she was just a baby when his heart attack started. As strong in death as he had been in life, he refused to allow himself to drop the baby or fall with her in his arms. Instead, he lay her down in her crib, before going to lie down himself on the couch and dying shortly thereafter.