I’ve shared this document before, but it never fails to send chills down my back when I look at it again. The document comes from my 5th great grandfather, Benjamin Clanin’s [Clannin] probate file. It appoints Joseph Huse, Esq, and Messrs. David Moody and Abner Greenleaf of Newburyport, Massachusetts to divide and set off the Dower’s Right of his estate for his second wife, Deborah Sandin Sinecross Clanin [later to become Mrs. Jonathan Whitmore].

There are some incredible things about this document:

  • This document is from 28 April 1783! Benjamin is believed to have died aboard the infamous HMS Jersey in Wallabout Harbor, NY. Deborah would go to court in the February 1783 session to settle his estate.
  • This printed document at the top left says, “Province of the Massachusetts-Bay” as the Colony was originally known. The words have been crossed out to now state, “Commonwealth of Massachusetts”.
  • At the bottom right, it used to read “Year of the King’s Reign” after the date of the document indicating the reign of King George III. It has been struck out as well.
  • Again, this document is dated 1783, for all intents and purposes, after the end of the Revolutionary War.

This is the moment when my family went from being subjects to King George III to being American citizens. It is not often we can point to an exact time when we changed our status: a naturalization ceremony, a marriage license, or a death certificate. This document reminds me of the importance of the struggle of an Irish immigrant to Massachusetts, a cooper by trade, and the father of four.

Benjamin would not live to see his children grow. The children’s mother, Mary Harris Clanin, had died three years earlier in 1779. These four children: Benjamin Clanin II, Mary Clanin , Sarah “Sally” Clanin, and my ancestor, Samuel Harris Clanin, were put under the guardianship of Mary Harris Clanin’s brother, Edward Harris Sr. Edward and his wife, Abigail, already had eight children of their own!

Because of the excellent recordkeeping on Edward’s part, we have copies of the guardianship papers and the costs associated with taking care of the children. We know the children were given a Bible, spelling books, two linen jackets, and two pair of “trowsers” for the boys made of lambskin. The cost of all the children’s needs are stated in Pounds, Pence, and Shillings. [The American dollars and cents system to come later.]

Read your family’s documents carefully. What do they tell you that isn’t obvious? This document to me reminds me of the sacrifices of my family to become Americans.

There Are Quiet Heroes

Sgt. Glenn E. Winter, Gunner and Radio Operator, B-17, 569th Bomb Squadron, 390th Bomb Group

I don’t remember the first time I met Glenn Winter, but it’s fairly safe to say it was most likely shortly after I was born. Dad and Mom had rented his farm west of Macomb on Route 136 before I was born. I do remember him being a very jovial, kind person with big dark eyes and a smile that would melt steel.

He was like extended family and over the years many letters were exchanged with holiday greetings and news of the farm. After we moved to my grandparents’ farm in 1968, Mom and Dad still kept in touch with him and visited him and his wife near Peoria.

Somewhere along the line, I learned he served in WW II in the Army Air Corps. Glenn has since passed away, but Mom and Dad have copies of his papers and memoirs. I’m a historian, genealogist, and archivist, and my curiosity was piqued. What had he seen? Where were his missions to? Where was his base in England?

Glenn was a member of the 569th Bomb Squadron H, 390th Bomb Group. He was a crew member on a B-17 bomber in the European Theatre.

Glenn Winter’s crew Front Row, left to right: S/Sgt. John M. O’Brien – radio operator; Lt. John L. Chadwick – Pilot, Lt. James M. Caldwell – Bombardier, Lt. Thomas W. Clark – Navigator, Lt. Thomas S. Weems – Co-Pilot, S/Sgt. Louis Zurlowski – Engineer Back Row, left to right: S/Sgt. Joe Cooney – Gunner, Sgt. Leslie Scott – Gunner, Sgt. John G. Stanley – Gunner, Sgt. Glenn Winger – Gunner. This photo was taken at Langley Field, VA. January 1944

In Glenn’s notes, he states they flew to England in late 1943, so I’m unsure why this photo was identified as being taken in Virginia in January 1944. There are no indications if they flew back to the USA, but I’m guessing it is simply an error of years. I think they were at Langley in January of 1943.

Glenn’s crew was never shot down, and survived all their 33 missions as a complete crew! He gave credit to their excellent pilot, 21-year-old John Chadwick from Texas. [Chadwick is pictured 2nd from the left on the front row in the picture]. I wish I knew more about his crewmates. Here is the list of missions Glenn’s crew completed:

  • Liege, Belgium
  • Brux, Czech.
  • Osnabruck, Germany
  • Berlin, German
  • Melun, France
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Liege, Belgium
  • Magdeburg, Germany
  • Troyes, France
  • Boulogne, France
  • Boulogne, France
  • Caen, France (D-Day, 6 June 1944)
  • Falais, France (D-Day, 6 June 1944)
  • Tours, France
  • Brunsbuttelkoog, Germany
  • Fallersleben, Germany
  • Ruhland, Germany – on to Russia – our 1st trip to Russia – Italy – and back to England
  • Drohobycz, Poland – on to Italy
  • Arad, Rumania – From and Back to Italy
  • Beziers, France – back to England
  • Munchen, Germany
  • Schweinfurt, Germany
  • Mersburg, Germany
  • Munchen, Germany – Drop supplies to Free French on the border of France & Switzerland)
  • Area “13”
  • St. Quentin, France
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Rahmel, Poland – our 2nd trip to Russia – Italy – Switzerland
  • Trzebinia, Oland
  • Ziliestea, Rumania
  • Toulouse, France
  • Ruhland, Germany
  • Brest, France
Schweinfurt, Germany

Glenn was only 19 and a sophomore at Iowa State University when he quit college and joined the Army Air Force. His memoirs were written some sixty years later and reflect the years that had passed.

“One flight to Russia was memorable. We left England, bombed Ruhland, Germany then flew on to an air base in Russia. On the day that we landed, the Russian women served us a meal. I can remember seeing a metal gallon can that was labeled Illinois Creamer Butter. There were 100 B17’s and also P51 escort planes assembled there. Before dark, the Germans flew over making photos of our planes. Know that Russian Angl Aircraft could only to to 12,000 feet, the Germans were flying just over that, and our P51’s could easily have shot them down, but the Russians had not had order to destroy those planes and they would not let us shoot them down. That’s the difference in mentality: Russians would not take a glaring opportunity if they’d not had orders; Americans would have done the logical thing orders or no, and have met the consequences later. That night the Germans came back and bombed what they had seen the day before with the exception of the field where I ws a guard at our planes. I was spared the German attack on our field. We’d been told to not move becuase the Russian guards would shoot anything that moved. It was a real 4th of July …our planes were full of gas and bombs. We lost fifty B17’s and more than 100 guys.”

Sgt. Glenn Winter Memoirs, written July 2002

I’ve been reading about the 8th Air Army Air Force during WWII in preparation for Apple TV’s release of “Masters of the Air”. There were no easy days for these men. There were no easy days for any WWII service person. Glenn was incredibly lucky that his crew survived intact, and completed 33 missions. Missions such as Schweinfurt, Magdeburg, Munich, and Berlin were unimaginable. Glenn was one of the ‘quiet heroes’ who surrounded me in my life. Many of them I didn’t know had WWII service until after I was an adult. How I wish I could go back and ask them about their service. Many, I think, would have said, “There were things a little girl shouldn’t have to worry about.”

Thank you, Glenn.

POSTSCRIPT: A very kind gentleman contacted me and gave me a very thorough document on Glenn’s missions overseas with dates, crew members, targets, and aircraft numbers. Through his work, I was able to track down the plane Glenn’s majority of missions were flown in. “The Diplomat”, B-17G, serial # 2102967 was flown by Crew #21 – Glenn’s crew – on 24 of 34 completed missions. It was first flown by Crew #21 on 2 June, 1944 to Boulogne France, and successively on 5 June, 1944 to Boulogne and then twice on D-Day, once to the Caen coast and the other to Falaise France.

“The Diplomat” was accepted into service on 24 April 1944 by the USAAF, and began service on 22 May 1944 in the 8th Air Army Air Force. Glenn’s missions ended on 26 August 1944 with a trip to Brest, France. The plane continued flying until it received “severe battle damage” on 6 February 1945 and subsequently crashed at Les Combes, France in a wheat field killing the crew. The plane was salvaged 3 November 1945.

Another crew with “The Diplomat” the B-17G Glenn E. Winter and Crew #21 flew for 24 missions without a loss.

Thank you to Frank Drain for the additional information!

Jubilee Needle Circle part II

After looking through more papers, my mother found more about the Needle Circle including some minutes and a more in-depth story of the surprise wedding.

            My grandmother, Jessie Smith Yess, wrote this on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary:

            Jubilee Needle Circle is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. The circle is still together, although the founders of Jubilee Needle Circle are all passed away, their members of their families and friends have kept it going. Not many Social Clubs like this Needle Circle stands for, have such a record.

            We, the present members have many great experiences to talk about. For many years they have met every two weeks, but now once a month for afternoon meetings, or occasionally a breakfast at Jubilee State Park, or a dinner at the Heritage House. When our mothers were living they, in early days experienced many things, we of today do not [know] – such as no electricity, no electric ranges, their first ones were gold old wood stoves or coal ranges, as no electric fans they were very uncomfortable, but didn’t complain too much, just got busy and did what they had to do – and got it done. We realize our Needle Circle cannot last forever, but we do respect the happy times it has given us.

            So, we say “Thank You”, Moms and Dads, Friends and Neighbors for the Happiness the Jubilee Neecle Circle has brought to us, and existing, to celebrate it’s 75th Anniversary in 1980. Present Officers: Wenona Tallyn – President, Ruth Corney – Sec. & Treasurer


July 20, 1928 – The Needle Circle met on Friday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Louis Beall’s. Despite the extreme heat a very pleasant afternoon was spent in social chat. Those who cared to brought their own work. A delicious lunch of ice cream, cake and lemonade was served. There were 27 present.

August 31, 1928 – The Needle Circle met at the home of Julie Carleton. About 25 were present to enjoy the afternoon.  Everyone had a chance to exercise her brain in writing the names of the Capitals of the States in a contest.  The prize was won by Laura Miller.

October 27, 1928 – The Needle Circle met with Mrs. Fronie Duggins for an all day meeting – twenty five present. A bazaar of many beautiful and useful articles which were donated by the members was the attraction for the afternoon. Everything sold well and the neat sum of $13.95 was received for the Society.

December 15, 1928 – The Needle Circle met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Pierce for an oyster supper and Christmas party, fifty people attended. Each one received a gift, and answered a roll call with a witty saying.

February 16, 1929 – Needle Circle met at the home of Mrs. L. L. Stewart. There was a large crowd present, and it was a special treat to have with us the following Charter members, who have been unable to attend regularly since leaving Jubilee: Mrs. Robt. Symonds, with whom the first meeting was help over 23 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Ferris Rowcliffe, Mrs. E. P. Slane and Mrs. Josie Hargadine. Time was spent sewing rags for rugs and social chat.

April 11, 1929 – The Needle Circle met at the home of Mrs. Frank Smith. This was a peppy meeting for who but peppy folks would have braved dirt roads, made hub cap deep by several rainy days, in order to get there. The ladies pieced on two quilts, and at this, they report a “ripping” time.

May 23, 1929 – The Circle met at the home or Mr. and Mrs. Fred Pierce to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. Fifty guests were there and all enjoyed a delicious 2 course supper and a very good time with an invitation to come back in twenty five years to help celebrate their fiftieth anniversary.

July 25, 1929 – The Needle Circle met at the home of Matilda Miller now living near Wyoming, Illinois for an afternoon meeting.

August 4, 1929 – A basket dinner at noon was held at the home of Miss Julia Carleton for an all day picnic. A good crowd attended this event and enjoyed a very good time.

October 24, 1929 – In spite of dreary weather and muddy roads, a very good number gathered at the home of Mrs. Luther Lawrence and Miss Susie Lawrence in the afternoon. A quilt was partly finished in yellow, green and white, the name of it being “Corn and Beans”.

January 2, 1930 – The Needle Circle started the New Year out with a meeting at the home of Mrs. Lulu Rowcliffe, where the men, women and children enjoyed in visiting, talking over old times and looking at pictures and relics of by gone days.

March 15, 1930 – The circle met with Mrs. L. L. Stewartt. It was a hard times party and Mrs. Calhoun was awarded first prize for the best costume. She was attired in dark blue print with patches of various colors here and there as necessity demanded. Her shoes were very large and badly worn. She wore a safety pin necklace and earrings from which dangled small onion, one with, the other red. Mrs. Jessie Yess received second prize, a dish mop. For her costume of rare gunny sack material, her hosiery was of John’s old shirt. A pretty Eaco flour sack collar, also a rope belt with a handerkerchief made of a Rockford sock completed her costume. Several other very striking outfits were present and everyone declared it to be one of our best meetings.

September 20, 1930 – The circle met with Mrs. Fronie Duggins for a gypsy party. Afternoon was spent with game sand contests. A good attendance of members and visitors.

September 21, 1930 – A picnic of the circle was held in the woods north of Princeville. This was held to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the Needle Circle.

December 20, 1930 A large crowd of t he Needle Circle and their families & friends gathered at the home of Mrs. Pearl Beall where their Annual Christmas party and oyster supper was held. A Christmas tree and Santa Claus.

February 5, 1931 – The Needle Circle surprised Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Calhoun for their 25th wedding anniversary. A large crowd attended and a very pleasant time was had.

November 27, 1931 The Circle met with Mrs. Lois Beall and Stella for an all day

meeting. A lovely dinner at noon.

December 26, 1931 – The Needle Circle met at the home of Ferris and Lulu Rowcliffe for their Christmas party and oyster supper, also in honor of their 25th wedding anniversary. A Fine time was had by all present and all left at a late hour.

January 7, 1932 – The Needle Circle met with Irene Maddox for an all day meeting. Time was spent quilting.  A lovely dinner was served at noon.

February 4, 1932 – The Circle met with Mrs. Minnie Wyss for an all day meeting. Time was spent quilting. a fine dinner was enjoyed by all.

March 31, 1932 – The circle met with Mrs. Chas. Challacombe for ran all day meeting. The time was spent making quilt blocks. A chicken dinner was served at noon.

June 23, 1932 – The circle was invited to the home of Zella Lewis, a former member of the Circle.

September 1, 1932 – The circle met with Mrs. Coats and Nelle for the afternoon. It was decided to have a post card shower for Charles Nichols, who at that time was a patient in the Methodist Hospital.

September 30, 1932 – The Circle enjoyed a Depression party at the home of Fronie Duggins, with Florence Koch as Co hostess. It was held in the Duggin’s timber. Thought we may have looked depressed in dress, we were not so in spirit, for everyone was in a jolly mood and much fun was had with races, games and contests, with suitable prizes for the winners and all did justice to the substantial lunch.

November 25, 1932 – The Needle Circle met with Bessie Martlief. It was an ideal day and a large crowd attended.

December 31, 1932 – The Annual oyster supper was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Slane. A Crow of about 70 attended. Supper was served at eight and the soup was delicious, so was the homemade candy, which was passed many times.

November 9, 1933 – The Needle Circle met at the home of Mrs. Helen White. It being an all day affair a fine pot luck dinner was served at noon. WE tied new comforters and hemmed some towels.

January 1st, 1934 – Instead of her regular meeting, Miss Julie Carlton entertained the Needle Circle members and their families at a New Year’s party. Almost 40 were present and enjoyed the evening with games, & contests.  A lunch of sandwiches, cake, pickles and coffee was served at a late hour, after which all departed, declaring Miss Carlton a very charming hostess.

January 20th, 1934 – Almost 100 men, women & children of the Needle Circle gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Yess for the annual oyster supper. The evening, after supper, was spent with games and an indoor field meet.

March 29, 1934 – The Needle Circle met with Mrs. Pearle Beall. It was a pleasant day and quite a number were in attendance. Guests of the day included Mrs. Zella Lewis, a former member, Miss Minnie Bouton, Mrs. Nelle Beall, Mrs. Sadie Cornish, Mrs. Ruth Beall and Marielly.  After a lovely dinner served at noon, the afternoon was spent at games and sewing.

June 21, 1934 – The Needle Circle met with Ruth Slane with a shower for Mrs. Harold Slane. Gooseberry stemming and games were the entertainment of the afternoon.  Opal received many beautiful gifts. A delicious lunch of ice cream, cake and ice tea was served.  With the beginning of the year, the members voted to hold their meetings alphabetically with the first names of the members. Collection was $1.26.

July 19, 1934 – The Needle Circle met with Mrs. Birdie Calhoun. The afternoon was spent visiting, it being too warm to sew.  a 25th Wedding Anniversary party for August 3 was planned for Mr. and Mrs. James Searle. The guest of the afternoon were Mrs. Friedman, & Mrs. Oertley of Princeville. A dainty lunch of cake, fruit salad & ice tea was served.

October 11, 1935 – A weiner roast was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Beall. A large crowd attended weiners, buns, Apple Pie and Coffee was served, and Tom and Ida had sweet cider which all enjoyed.

January 30, 1935 – The Needle Circle met at an all day meeting with Nelle Coats, it was a very bad day, and many could not attend, due to bad roads.

October 5, 1936 – Fifty five Needle Circlers circled into the home of Mr. and Mrs. P. P. Miller to celebrate their wedding anniversary. It was the 49th, but the celebration was a “golden wedding day” affair. The evening was superb and a number of the “used to be” regular members but now “not so regular” were there.

December 1, 1936 – The Needle Circle enjoyed an all day meeting with Mrs. Ida Beall at her home in Princeville. As it was the last meeting before Christmas, an exchange of ten cent gifts was given.

January 29, 1937 – A postponed oyster supper & party was held at the home of the Howard Bealls. About 60 people were in attendance. The evening was enjoyed with games and contests —- and cards.

July 30, 1937 – No meeting today everyone too busy cooking for threshers.

Jan 13, 19238 – No meeting too many having “mumps”.

June 12, 1938 – The members of the Needle Circle and their families enjoyed a basket dinner picnic at Jubilee State Park. 63 were present to enjoy the wonderful dinner served at noon.

September 29, 1938 – A weiner roast was held at Jubilee State Park. It was a beautiful night. About 60 present to enjoy the food.

November 3, 1938 – Needle Circle met at the home of Blanche Symonds and Verna Smith as hostess to a hard time party. An afternoon of fun was had by all present laughing at the “hard time” clothes.

December 29, 1939 – Needle Circle met with Ruth Corney for the afternoon and Christmas party was held with an exchange of gifts.

May 16, 1940 – Needle Circle met for an all day meeting with Mrs. John Price, time was spenet visiting and quilting, a fine dinner was served at noon and enjoyed by all. Mrs. Robert Symonds one of the oldest members were present. Pictures were taken.

July 25, 1940 – Needle Circle met with Verna Smith for the afternoon, time was spent visiting and a few guessing games. It was 104 in the shade. A find lunch was served.

September 12, 1940 – About 60 were present at Jubilee State Park for a weiner roast.

October 3, 1940 – Needle Circle met with Nelle Coats. The afternoon spent guessing games & election of officers. It was voted to take up a nickole [nickel] collection instead of a dime.

February 6, 1941 – Mrs. Adal invited the members of the Needle Circle to her home for an all day meeting. Time was spent quilting and visiting. A lovely dinner was served to all present.

June 12, 1941 – The Needle Circle spent the afternoon with Myrtle Slane, time was spent stemming gooseberries. A lovely lunch was served.

June 29, 1941 – A picnic at Jubilee State Park, were about 70 present for the basket dinner. All had to hurry home as a severe storm came.

December 11, 1941 – Needle Circle met at the home of Stella Beall. Time was spent visiting and bingo, after which Santa Claus came with presents for the children and ladies. A lovely lunch was served.

February 14, 1942 – A number of Jubilee Circle members went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Maddox for the evening to celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary.

September 5, 1942 – A weiner roast held at the Jubilee Park. About 70 present for the evening.

November 11, 1943  Ruth Corney had a Thanksgiving party. A lovely lunch and a good attendance.

April 21, 1944 – Needle Circle met at Mrs. Vera Searles home. A good crowd attended, and several lap robes were sewed.

December 7, 1944 – Needle Circle met at the home of Helen Smiths. It was the Christmas party exchange of gifts.

February 6, 1945 – The Golden Anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Symonds. She was one of the first members of Jubilee Needle Circle.

February 14, 1946 – Needle Circle met with Ruth Corney and Ruth Slane for an all day meeting, very few present as roads were drifted shut with snow.

December 19, 1946 – Needle Circle met at Blanche Symonds & Florence Miller as hostess to an all day meeting and Christmas Party.

September 28, 1947 – The Needle Circle picnic was held Jubilee State Park. A very chilly day and crowd was small. A fine chicken and plenty of ice cream was enjoyed by all.

June 24, 1948 – Members and their families were invited to a surprise party on Red and Ruby White for their 26th Wedding Anniversary.

April 22, 1947 [Not sure what the correct date is for this.  This is typed in the same order as written.] – Needle Circle met at the home of Mrs. Marvin Huffman for an afternoon meeting, time was spent visiting and games, after which lunch was served.

January 13, 1948 – Needle Circle postponed because of ice.

April 21, 1948 – Needle circle met at Florence Koch’s with Fronnie Duggins and Anna Oppe as hostess for an afternoon meeting.

June 12, 1949 Needle Circle met for an afternoon meeting with Polly Duggins. Time was spent with games, and a dainty lunch was served.

September 18, 1949 – Needle Circle met with Erma Huffman for an afternoon meeting – meeting the first time after summer vacation.

Jubilee Needle Circle story about a surprise wedding at a meeting [handwritten by a member, but not Jessie Yess]

            The ladies had long planned and looked forward to meeting with Mrs. Ida Beall. They’re plans were at last realized on Oct. 26th.  Before noon ladies and G. W. and Ferris Rowcliffe had arrived.

            It had been decided to have a lap dinner so the party was seated and the dinner had been served as far as fruit salad when all were attracted by seeing a single buggy to which was hitched a thin white horse drive into the yard. We were all anxious to know who else was coming to sew.

            Soon we discovered it was G. W. Smith and son Alvie, but who the lady was! We had never seen her before. They wished to talk to G. W. Rowcliffe. One lady reported that a neighbor had told them that Smith had recently returned from the west and brought a wife with him.

            Soon G. W. Esquire (Rowcliffe) came back into the house to get Mamma Rowcliffe’s consent. Some one piped out “oh! We are going to have a wedding.” The secret was out.

            Mamma said, “bring them in. we can have a wedding can’t we Ida?”  “Sure”  Ida said and G.W. Rowcliffe (Esquire) returned to the buggy and told them the good news. They at once emptied their pocket books and handed the contents with the necessary legal papers to him. Ferris acted as usher and prevented them getting in through the back door. Esquire Rowcliffe astonished us by pronouncing the ceremony so well, it being his first wedding.

            Afterwards Esquire Rowcliffe told us his first wedding had been one of his dreams of his life. That he had repeated the ceremony daily hoping for a fee and when the bride answered to the important question, “Yes, God Bless You”, he felt well repaid. The bride was Miss Sara Meals, aged 26, of Oklahoma. The groom Mr. G. W. Smith, aged 63 of Illinois, “who always had and thought he always could support a wife”. Mrs. Symonds and Mrs. Bush acted as witnesses.

            The ladies served a wedding dinner in good style.

            The bride wore a dress of red with a grey hat, a grey sweater and grey golf gloves. The Wedding ring being worn on the outside of the glove on the first finger. The groom wore Conventional clothes and a big long overcoat.

The Jubilee Needle Circle

1925 Jubilee Needle Circle

What began as a simple gesture to express sympathy to a neighbor who had lost her father became a social support network for the women of Jubilee township at the turn of the 20th century in Peoria county.  According to an August 29, 1980 Peoria Journal Star article the Jubilee Needle Circle began in 1905 when neighbor women took their daily sewing to the home of Mrs. Robert Symonds [Maude Imogene nee Ford] to help cheer her up on the passing of her father [John William Ford].  The group worked to help each other complete their daily sewing of darning clothing, hemming tea towels, and quilting quilts.  The women took their basket lunches for the all-day affair.

By 1909, the informal organization had decided to officially organize and elected officers. Their purpose: “To help each other in time of need”.  Members began paying monthly dues and collecting funds for those in need.  The funds were used to help support a neighbor for those in need.

During World War I, members knitted socks and sweaters for men in the service and in WWII, made lap robes for the Navy. In 1934, they held a New Years Eve party complete with game, contests and indoor field events.  In 1937 & 1938, the minutes reflect the economic depression of the area.  Members voted to reduce monthly dues from 10 cents to 5 cents.  The club often met in the summers at Jubilee State Park and in July 1940 meeting the thermometer measured 104 degrees in the shade!  The monthly meetings also included numerous surprise birthday parties, a baby shower and even an impromptu wedding!

My great grandmother, Emma Jane Harrison Smith was a founding member of the group and her younger children accompanied her to the monthly meetings and played with other children there.  My grandmother, Jessie Smith Yess, was interviewed for the 1980 Peoria Journal Star article.

August 29, 1980 Peoria Journal Star article

 I asked my mother, Sharon Yess Chenoweth, what she remembered about the Jubilee Needle Circle.  Here is what she wrote, “I have faint memories of watching the ladies tearing strips of cloth, and sewing them together to make bandages.  I have no idea where they sent them….could have been the Red Cross during WWII.

 “In later years, the Needle Circle became a social gathering of women and children.  The children would play with each other while the women visited, then help with serving of refreshments, and also enjoy eating refreshments.  I vividly remember having to dust the furniture (which I disliked doing) the day before Mom was to be hostess to the group.  There would be a meeting and then they would play games such as word search, or have two teams competing to tap a balloon a distance and get it into a basket. One game at our house Mom thought up was for the members to look at things in the house that were “out of place”.  For instance, she turned a picture towards the wall, or had a dead flower in a vase, or the wrong month on the calendar.  Things went well until they listed what they found but many were things Mom had NOT changed. What laughter and good times they had.”

1920 Jubilee Needle Circle

My own memories of Needle Circle meetings were always from summers. We didn’t live nearby and my sister and I would spend a week in the summer at my grandparents and attend the Needle Circle meeting.  I recall it always being held in a big field at Jubilee State Park.  By this time, little sewing took place and more visiting did.  In fact, I don’t ever recall seeing any sewing taking place which caused my confusion as to why the club was named the Needle Circle.  We would play with the kids in the community who were often the children or grandchildren of family or neighbors.

 My family represents four different generations of Jubilee Needle Circle attendees.  My great grandmother, Emma Jane Harrison Smith, was a founding member.  Her daughter and my grandmother, Jessie Smith Yess, was a member until the Needle Circle ceased to exist in the 1980s.  My mother, Sharon Chenoweth Yess, attended as a child and I too attended Needle Circle meetings. Looking over the lists of those pictured at the Needle Circle meetings was like a who’s who of names I remember hearing my grandparents talk about.  Such a small gesture as expressing sympathy to a neighbor blossomed into a much larger social organization that helped out their fellow man and woman.  It reminds me we can do so much individually, but we can accomplish more for our fellow man by joining our neighbor.   

Attendees of the 1905 Needle Circle
Nellie White 
Taken from the Peoria Journal Star 1980 article

EUREKA! There’s Genealogical Gold Found in those Archives!

Ask any serious genealogist “What is one of the most important set of records you wish you could still access?” Without hesitation, many would answer the 1890 US Federal Census!

The United States Federal Census is mandatory according to our Constitution (Article I, Section 2) and requires we count US residents whether or not they are citizens. The first census was taken in 1790, soon after the successful completion of the Revolutionary War. By 1890, taking the US Federal Census was something we had done for 100 years and during this census, the federal government tried something new. Each family was enumerated on a SEPARATE SHEET OF PAPER! It is the ONLY time the US Census was done in such a manner.

1890 US Federal Census Blank Form

Here is the twist on this information: On January 10, 1921 there was a fire at the Commerce Building in Washington, D. C. and nearly ALL of the information from the 1890 US Federal Census was lost. Gone. KAPUT! Irretrievable. The records of only 6,160 people out of 62,979,766 total residents of the United States survived! Finding anyone you know in these fragments is probably more rare than winning the mega millions lottery.

I can’t count the number of times I am tracking someone I’m researching and I get to the point where I need the 1890 census only to grimace, pound my fist and shout UGH! Today, however, I came across genealogical GOLD! Eureka! In searching for an ancestor by the name of Roxie Laney Morrow Stevens, up pops the 1890 Census. Ancestry is VERY GOOD, but this stopped me in my tracks. How could they have made such a simple error? There IS NO 1890 census that survives. Well, Ancestry IS GOOD! There are small fragments of the 1890 Census left!

These are the ONLY surviving fragments of the 1890 Census and you’ll see in bold face type – ILLINOIS – MCDONOUGH COUNTY: MOUND TOWNSHIP! In all the genealogical world, McDonough County has ONE township that survived the fire!

Alabama—Perry County
District of Columbia—Q, S, 13th, 14th, RQ, Corcoran, 15th, SE, and Roggs streets, and Johnson Avenue
Georgia—Muscogee County (Columbus)
Illinois—McDonough County: Mound Township
Minnesota—Wright County: Rockford
New Jersey—Hudson County: Jersey City
New York—Westchester County: Eastchester; Suffok County: Brookhaven Township
North Carolina—Gaston County: South Point Township, Ricer Bend Township; Cleveland County: Township No. 2
Ohio—Hamilton County (Cincinnati); Clinton County: Wayne Township
South Dakota—Union County: Jefferson Township
Texas—Ellis County: S.P. no. 6, Mountain Peak, Ovila Precinct; Hood County: Precinct no. 5; Rusk County: Precinct no. 6 and J.P. no. 7; Trinity County: Trinity Town and Precinct no. 2; Kaufman County: Kaufman.

I feel like I’ve found gold. This may be the ONLY time I get to enumerate an ancestor from the 1890 census.

Above, you’ll find the picture of the fragment of the 1890 US Federal Census for Mound Township, McDonough County, Illinois which holds the information about my ancestor, Roxie Laney Stevens, on it. Too Cool!

Pardon me while I geek out today. The rest of the world is excited that football has returned during a pandemic. I’m excited there is a FRAGMENT of the 1890 census left for me!

Sometimes they demand my attention!

I almost hate to admit this, but it happens quite often as I work on my genealogical research. My ancestors fight for my attention. Yes, you heard me right. I truly believe, like small children demanding their parents’ attention, they push themselves to the forefront to gain my attention.

Case in fact for this theory. I have been doing a lot of pre-Revolutionary War timeframe research this year. I’ve pushed my lines back far enough to find the immigrant ancestor on many of my lines. Most of my dad’s family lines have been in Colonial America or the United States more than 100 years BEFORE the Revolutionary War.

While looking for early immigrants from Germany, I put a quick list together of all the relevant lines I could think of that I might need to find. They have surnames like: Zug, France/Frantz, Cupp, Holbe/Hulvey and Sheets/Sheetz. I found an interesting pamphlet/book called, “A collection of upwards of thirty thousand names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and other immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776”. (I put the picture here to prove THAT really was the name of it!)

Who were on the same ship?

While searching through this, on page 110 it says, “5 Oct 1737 – 231 Palantines aboard the bilander, Townshead, Thomas Thompson, Master, from Rotterdam, last from Cowes. Listed as a passenger was a Ludwig Frantz – from the France/Frantz family I’ve been searching for. Suddenly, the name Conrad Holbe (Hulvey) jumped out at me. In a totally unrelated family line, my 6th times great grandfather’s name jumped out. Seriously? Aboard the same ship? It was as if Conrad Holbe wasn’t content with the Frantz family getting all the attention.

What is it about Newburyport, MA?

Next up is the pre-Revolutionary War town of Newburyport, MA. I had traced by Clannen/Clanin line back to this Essex County town in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I had “tramped” around in the ancient family biographies of this town when I ran across another name that sounded familiar: William Rogers – Captain William Rogers. While the Clanin family is on my dad’s side, the Rogers family is on my mom’s side. Again, they seemed to be competing for my attention.

Since then, I’ve started making a list of all the family lines that lived in Newburyport, MA and it now includes the Jacob Sherman family line as well as the Samuel Harris family line. Newburyport must have been a busy city at that time. Did all my ancestors on both sides of my family know each other? Crazy thought, eh?

Now I’m waiting for the Zug family, Sheetz family and Cupp family lines to jump out of the headlines and attract my attention. Any time now.

HMS Jersey and Edward Clannen/Clanin

I wonder how does this happen?  How do we forget important stories about our families that should have been handed down? It might be because someone in that line – the family storyteller – died before they could share the story.  Some stories are not passed down because the storyteller thought it might reflect poorly on the character of the ancestor, but Edward Clannen/Clanin’ story wasn’t that way.  Let me set the table.

My family research usually means I take a line and I work branches of it back until I can’t go any further.  Sometimes I find very ordinary stories. Other times I find stories  that are fascinating, but there are stories where I’m emotionally brought to tears when I discover something very difficult .  This is Edward Clannen/Clanin’s story.

The last name appears as “Clannen” in Massachusetts in the middle 1700s, but changes to “Clanin” near the 1800s.  Some people were never quite sure of their family name spelling.  We’ll refer to him as Edward Clanin for ease from here on out.

I began to unwrap the package that was his story working one family line back.  The Sherman family were from Newburyport, MA and quite a lot is written in early American history about them.  Edward Clanin married Mariah Sherman in 1835 in Clermont County, Ohio.  They are my 3rd great grandparents.

Mariah Sherman and Edward Clanin of Fulton County, Illinois
Mariah Sherman (1813-1890) and Edward Clanin (1813-1894)
married 1835 in Clermont County, Ohio.
Edward is Benjamin Clanin’s grandson.

I knew Edward’s father was Samuel Harris Clanin. He was born in Newburyport, MA and there was a little information about his life in books from Essex County. Samuel was born about 1778 and his father was Benjamin Clanin. His mother was Mary Harris Clanin, thus the middle name for Samuel.

Samuel’s mother died when he was around one year old. His father remarried in 1780 to a widow, Deborah Sinecross, and his father Benjamin, died in 1783. Here’s the remarkable part.

Benjamin Clannen/Clanin died before 7 February 1783 aboard the HMS Jersey – a British prison ship!

Painting of prison ships in the Revolutionary War.
HMS Jersey – prison death ship for Revolutionary War soldiers

Benjamin Clannen/Clanin had died a horrible death on board the HMS Jersey with 800 other Continental soldiers in Wallabout Bay, Brooklyn, New York. Just Google the stories about this ship.

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument  - Wallabout Bay, NY
Monument to the men who died aboard the prison ships in Wallabout Bay, Brooklyn, NY. Oral history says his body is buried under this monument.

AND he left behind FOUR small children – including his youngest son, Samuel Harris Clanin, my 4th great grandfather.

Mary Harris Clanin’s brother, Edward, took guardianship of the four children. Edward had served as the Clerk of the Committee of Safety, Correspondence, and Information for Essex County, MA and Captain in the American Revolution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

How did our family forget Benjamin Clannen/Clanin’s sacrifice? Who forgot to tell the story of the supreme sacrifice he made? Was this story too painful for his son to tell? Becoming an orphan at the age of five would not be easy!

I’ve found the probate records of Benjamin Clannen and can see Edward Harris did a good job raising the children and seeing to their needs. One of the entries is for “leather breeches” for the boys to wear along with “two linen jackets”.

As I wait for my admittance into the Daughters of the American Revolution, I know which ancestor I will next honor with the DAR – it will be Benjamin Clanin and you can bet I’ll share his story this Fourth of July! DAR Patriot Benjamin Clanin who gave the ultimate sacrifice to establish this nation.

Postscript: After more research, I have found that most likely the surname “Clannen” was McLennan and was either Irish or Scots-Irish. I continue on with my research.

I was admitted to the DAR 5 May 2019 and my patriot is John Chenoweth of Virginia. It is not often a member can enter under her own surname. I was proud to do so and to help my sister to also join.

#52Ancestors – First

CockeRichard_medium  Richard Cocke – 1597-1666

His name is Richard Cocke. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses.  His first wife was an early settler of Jamestown, Virginia.  I believe he was my first – my first ancestor to come to Colonial America.  He was my 10th great grandfather – my 10th!  That’s my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather!

  • He came in 1627. Boston, Massachusetts wasn’t even settled until 1630.
  • Only three of the original 13 colonies were formed at this time – Virginia [1603], Massachusetts [1620], and New Hampshire [1623}.
  • When Richard Cocke came to Colonial America, it would be three years before the Puritans settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony!
  • Life expectancy for a man at this time was 48 years in Virginia.
  • Women, on average, lived to be 39 years old.
  • The book Gulliver’s Travels had just been written by Jonathan Swift.

At the time of his death, he had:

  • Been married twice
  • Had seven children
  • Owned 7,000 acres
  • Owned three plantations [Curles, Bremo and Malvern Hills]
  • Been elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses several times
  • His descendants served on the rebel side of the Revolutionary War
  • A Civil War battle would happen on his plantation [Malvern Hills] nearly 200 years after he was dead.
  • His last child was born soon after he died

He was the first of many.  Many of my ancestors settled in the American colonies in the 1700s. They became some of the first citizens of the United States of America and I couldn’t be prouder.


#52AncestorsIn52Weeks – Oldest

Top Row: Left to right – Elzie Chenoweth (grandfather), Dollie Swise Chenoweth (great-grandmother), Eleanor Senate Lawrence Harrison (2nd great grandmother)

Bottom Row: Left to right – Elias Birdine Chenoweth (2nd great grandfather), Della Margaret White Swise (2nd great grandmother)

Back in college, I took a class about families.  It seemed like a blow-off class with little information of importance.  Boy, was I wrong!  We studied birth-order of children.  It was fascinating and I still relate to what I learned there.  With the topic of oldest this week, I went way back to this class and comments my sister often makes.  “I didn’t have to remember that family trivia, you’re the oldest.  You always remember for me,” is a comment she frequently makes.  The other has something to do with the fact if something is not functioning at home, I quickly try to fix it myself which once led to me taking the one toilet out of our house to repair it.

Oldest children to have a tendency to do things differently.  Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist, was one of the first to develop this theory.  Supposedly the first-born child is the high achiever, the middle-born child the peacemaker and the youngest child is the outgoing charmer. It’s difficult to tell if that’s accurate.  Science sure can’t do it, but here is what I do know.

As a first-born or oldest child, I was my parents’ experiment.  They developed their parenting skills on me as do most parents.  By the time the next child comes along, they have skipped the books, discussion groups, forums, and advice giving columns.  The oldest child is the one who was an only child for a while.  They are the child who had the adults’ single focus.  In the beginning, they didn’t have to share the adult attention. It does make a difference.

After considering the topic for the week, I began thinking that most of my direct ancestors are not first-born children.  The first four – Elzie through Elias – were all first-born children as am I.  FIVE first-borns out of 31 possibilities – (16 – 2nd great grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 4 grandparents, 2 parents and me).  In fact, most of my ancestors were youngest or near the youngest 1/3 of their family.  Families were much bigger in the old days, so if you fell in the bottom 1/3 of 9 children, you might as well have been the youngest.

It did make me consider what kind of effect it had on my ancestors, their choice of spouses, their occupations, the way they interacted with their siblings.  Just some deep thinking for a rainy Sunday.

The last young lady in the group of photos is Della Margaret White Swise.  She was #5 of 5 in 1862.  As her mother came west to Illinois, leaving Virginia and the Civil War and Della’s father in the Army, the four oldest children and their mother contracted diphtheria in Ohio.  Family history says they were nursed by an Indian woman.  The other four children died.  Only Della – being under the age of two – and her mother survived.  She went from being the youngest in the family to being the oldest.

The story of Della and her family ends happily.  Their father, apparently after his term of service in the Army, went west to find the family in Illinois.  He must have been very happy to see his wife, Eliza Jane Hulvey White and Della.  You see, Della went from being the youngest of five children, to the oldest of 10!  How’s that for a switch from youngest to oldest!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Independence


Michael France Pvt. Ohio Mtd. Militia, War of 1812, Oct 6, 1776 – Nov 1, 1867

I’m a lover of military history.  It probably has something to do with the fact I was born 100 years to the day after the American Civil War began.  I cut my teeth on Civil War battlefield markers and learned to read by studying them.  I could name every kind of Civil War cannon and which side used them.

Lately, I’ve been digging more into the Revolutionary War and reading documents, books and watching TV shows such as “Washington’s Spies” to better understand the time period.  It’s a difficult thing to do.  When you know the outcome of the situation, it’s easy to sit back and consider the time period in a cold, sterilized environment rather than in the messy, neighbor versus neighbor, nastiness it must have been.  The Patriots were committing treason!

The military tombstone is of my 4th great grandfather, Michael France,  who was born in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War.  Several of my 5th great grandfathers served in the Revolutionary War including Michael’s father –   John France (Frantz) as well as  Major Francis Logan and  Capt. William Rogers. 6th great grandfathers Jacob Sheets, and James Trimble both served in Virginia.

The men served, but so did their wives.  While they were gone to war, the wives kept the farms going and the family healthy and fed.  Many pension records for the Revolutionary War were filed by wives left in their later years to continue the family legacy.

What could it have been like for my ancestors to have lived through this time period?  It was no doubt difficult, gut-wrenching and dangerous.  It was probably invigorating, uplifting and thrilling also.  Isn’t that what all life is like – a roller coaster ride of emotions.

A few months ago I had the privilege of transcribing a Revolutionary War soldier’s pension file for someone who happened to be my 7th great uncle.  His wife and children had filed on his behalf after his death.  The 44-page document cataloged the sacrifices, pains and heartaches the family had undergone during the war years.  It was a photocopy of the handwritten document and I was simply amazed to be thinking of how it stretched over so many years between two distant relatives to tell a tale of commitment, independence, sacrifice and family love.

On this Fourth of July, I hope you find your family story of independence and commitment and learn a little more about your family and the War of Independence.  In fact, I’d challenge you to take a family vacation to some Revolutionary War sites or read some books about the time period.