Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Never Know What You'll Find...Another Day, Another Cool "Find"!

A quick stop at my favorite "Vintage Mall" in Springfield, OR today resulted in an unusual treasure---a history of the railroad company that both my paternal grandfather, my father and one of my uncles worked for in Iowa and Illinois. I was just wandering through the store, and there in a little pile of railroad history books was Steam Locomotives of the Burlington Route written by Bernard G. Corbin and William F. Kerka, published in 1978. It's a 320 page book with 530 photos of trains!

I know that my father, James Everett Elting (1909-1970) not only worked for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&QRR) in the 1930s, but his father James Henry Elting had worked there previously. Dad studied blueprint reading at the CB&QRR night school in Burlington, IA and then rode the rails to Oregon in about 1933. He stayed in the Pacific Northwest and continued his blueprint studies at Edison Vocational School in Seattle while working for Boeing prior to being drafted during WWII.

I don't know much about "Grandpa Jim's" work on the railroad other than he kept taking his young family by train to Montana and had a land claim there (near Havre, I think). They finally settled permanently in Burlington when Grandma had had enough of the primitive conditions in Montana. Perhaps some of my first cousins will have more details.

My uncle, Charles Leland Elting, (known as "Uncle Red") also  worked for the railroad. I believe he would have worked at their southern Illinois sites, but perhaps earlier in West Burlington, IA. His children or grandchildren may have information.

I got really excited when I saw "Assignments and Roster Sheets" in the index. "Here we go! Now I'll find all the Elting family names and we'll have another bit of history to share and enjoy," I thought. Silly me. Little did I know that a railroad history book would have pages and pages and pages in that excitement inducing section...but it is all listings of train engines and cars!  There is a lot of written history in the book, in addition to those 530 photos of  trains, and I'll do some more reading to pull out anything that might relate to the time periods when our family members might have been involved. But, much as I love riding on trains, I am already tired of looking at those photos.

But I know just the person to send this book to---brother Ralph. He's currently engaged in studying Civil War cannons and determining why our great-grandfather--yet another James Elting---is on a horse in his official Civil War photo. (He has the answer. Maybe I can persuade him to write about it for this site).

So, that's my special family history find today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

You just never know what you'll find!

Doing family history research often results in surprises. Such was the case recently when I was just fooling around seeing what might be "new" in the way of Elting family history information. This is what I found: a letter from Oscar Elting to his nephew Warren B. Keator, son of Lavina (Elting) and Calvin Keator of Rosendale, Ulster County, NY. The 1867 letter was offered for sale on the Internet auction site. It requires membership so I don't know if the letter has been sold, or if so, the amount of the purchase price. 

From the auction details:

Letter, dated December 16, 1867, Fort Selden, NM, and cabinet card offered from the Eric C. Caren Collection on September 15, 2011.

Oscar Elting(1831-1902) was a native of New Paltz, NY who served in the 1st New York Cavalry through the Civil War and then joined the 3rd U.S Cavalry as a career officer. His first posting as a second lieutenant was to Fort Selden in Apache country, and he was quickly put to the test : "18 days after my arrival here, had a fight with the Apaches which I will briefly describe. At 3 1/2 o clock p.m. about 75 attacked a few soldiers guarding a herd...within half a mile of this post. My company was quickly in the saddle and in pursuit and after a chase of 15 miles and fighting them in three mountain ravines we recaptured the whole herd, killed 3 indians and dismounted 13 savages...The last Indian was killed at sundown by a detachment of 5 men under my immediate command, this detachment being the advance party...I secured his scalp besides other trophies...It was a close desperate and exciting chase, our cavalry fighting them from behind rocks and driving them until night came on."

For those who do not  have a copy of my book, Answering the Call! An Elting Military Tribute, this is a brief description of some of the information I included about Oscar:

  (His name was actually Stewart Oscar Elting and that is the way he appears in Jim Elting's genealogy book under his number: 1533).  Oscar was the son of Abraham Jacobus and Jane Vernooy (Bevier) Elting. Born August 1, 1831 in Ulster Co., NY and died November 6, 1902 in Burlington, Vermont of a heart attack. Buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. He married Fanny Barton Stewart and had three children. Oscar was an 1861 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, NY. Since there are at least 900 pages of Capt. Elting's military records in the National Archives, (too expensive for my research budget for the book) I listed the information that was submitted to the government for his pension request in which his service locations and dates were detailed. According to that list, he joined his unit on November 2, 1867 and reported to Fort Selden. Of course official records also show him as a prisoner of war in June 15, 1863 having been captured at Winchester, VA. Either those records are incorrect or whoever (probably his widow) failed to mention his having been a prisoner of war when filing on his pension on January 14, 1903, a few months after his death. The full records would probably, but not necessarily, solve this mystery.

In Answering... I focused more on the health and injury issues of Civil War era Elting soldiers and Oscar's list is one of the longest. Indeed, the Angina Pectoris that killed him after retirement was reported by his physician to have been service related based on Oscar's prior testimony of "hardship and long service."

Lest anyone feel "uncomfortable" with my reporting Oscar's battle with the Apaches, I repeat here a portion of the disclaimer in my book:  "There was no glorify---or to denounce---anyone, or any action. This is simply a tribute to those descendants of Jan and Jacomyntje Elting who served in this nation under the laws and politics of their time..."  Family history is just that---history.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pages and pages of all those family names!

It sounded like such a simple project. I'd gather together all the family stories and bits of history scattered through several file drawers and boxes, add to them special photos selected from a large collection and put it all into family history notebooks for Christmas presents for three of my adult grandsons Kyle Utterback, and Brinton and Ty Cary.

Weeks of sorting, assembling, copying, meeting with one grandson's other grandmother for info and details and hours of writing later I hadn't begun to make a dent in the project and it was only a week until Christmas. What to do? Panic is always my first choice, but this time I actually had a good helping of common sense and realized it was not doable in so short a time. So, I put the notebooks together with the information that was ready, or near ready, and was quite pleased to see that the four inch ring binders were about a quarter full. Plenty of room for the heaps of material still to be prepared. So the boys received a "Christmas present in progress" this year and one of my major goals for 2012 is to finish this project!

Amazingly, with all that work I didn't empty a single box, file drawer or photo album!  There is much left to do. Part of the reason for my inability to complete the project in time---aside from my lifelong habit of underestimating the time and energy it will take to complete any project---was that meeting with the other grandmother. Our mutual grandson has fascinating ties to Oregon's early history and I did get a little sidetracked (let's say most of one week) researching and enjoying learning about our state's history that I had never known before. There's a museum in Prineville, Oregon that I must visit now, and the frustrating thing is that I spent a whole weekend in that town, driving back and forth past that very museum, just weeks before I learned of my grandson Kyle's connection to Crook County history.

If you're still reading, here's the major points in his family history: One of his ancestor grandfathers, John Turley Crooks,  represented Linn County in the legislature when they wrote the state constitution in a single month, and his son, Aaron Crooks was murdered in the Prineville area setting off a rugged vigilante "war" that is about as "Wild West" story as one can imagine. The story is easily found on the Internet.

But, any of you reading this because you're one of my Elting, Smith, Carlisle, etc. relatives---these Crooks are not our relatives. They are my grandson's paternal family members. He has, besides all of our relatives, the whole Utterback, Vibbert, Crooks, Friend lines and many more in his genealogy.

Lucky for me, these young men are interested in all this material I'm giving to them. Nothing better than having the next generation realize the importance of FAMILY. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Born in the USA---Waldport Story

My article on the old Waldport (OR) hospital and Dr. Edwards was published in the June issue of Oregon Coast magazine.  You can read it online at:

This article will be of particular interest to descendants of Lester and Pearl (Carlisle) Smith, late of Oregon City, Waldport and Siletz/Logsden, Oregon.

While researching for this article, I read John Tayman's book "The Colony--The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai." (Published by Scribner in 2006).  If you're interested in the history of this Hawaiian Island or the subject of leprosy, don't miss this book. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


WHEN: Saturday, July 16 8 a.m. or so until you want to leave, or the park closes, whichever comes first!

WHERE: Clackamette Park, Clackamette Dr., Oregon City, OR.

WHO: All descendants of Lester and Pearl Smith, their Carlisle cousins---and any other friends and relatives who want to visit with us.

  • Bring your own lunch or purchase it at the nearby fast food place.
  • Bring musical instruments
  • Bring lawn chairs, awnings--whatever you need to be comfortable. The park is beautiful, but there are no benches or chairs.
  • If you have children, please bring games that can be enjoyed by all the children.
  • Be prepared to share your family milestones that have occurred since July 2009. (Weddings, graduations, awards, hobbies, births, deaths, travel---whatever was important in your lives)
WHY: We gather together every two years to continue our family ties, visit and enjoy one another. We meet in Oregon City because it is where Lester and Pearl grew up and were married, plus it is a central location that allows most of the "Smith Cousins" to travel within two-three hours of their homes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gen. Patton Featured in Huguenot Street Newsletter

My article on our Elting "cousin", General George Patton, is featured in the Spring edition of Historic Huguenot Street's newsletter.  See: and click on the mini newsletter at the top of the page. I have another article in that issue on "The Gathering" held on the Street last August. This issue has lots of information about HHS events!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"The Gathering" Featured in Magazine Article

My article on "The Gathering" on Historic Huguenot Street has been published in the March-April issue of Reunions Magazine

If you've been to New Paltz, NY, or are a descendant of the original families: Elting, DuBois, Hasbrouck, DuBois, Crispell, Bevier, Freer, Deyo, Terwilliger and others, you know that every bit of publicity that we can obtain for the stone house museums, the archives and the collections is important to saving these important treasures of our nation's history. So I'm very thankful that the story of our "family reunion" last August was published.

The issue is now available on the magazine's website: