Thursday, April 28, 2016


Chet Danielson, was my boss and my pastor for three years in the late 1960s.  He was my boss first, choosing me to fill in as office secretary at The Salvation Army Corps in Ontario, California, and then bumping me up to what we casually called welfare worker when that position opened.  I just wanted to work there, and I really just did whatever needed doing.  In rank, he was a Captain, and with such a small office as we had, he most of the time answered to "Cap."  After about a year, my husband and I began attending the Ontario Corps, feeling that our ministry should be there, too.

I loved the "helping" part of my job, and Cap taught me a lot about christian compassion, warmth, caring, and he especially demonstrated in his own life what General Booth so had intended The Salvation Army to be.  I had lots of lines drawn in my own understanding of "church" and "christians" - and it was Chet who exemplified by his life, both business and spiritual, that drawing lines are NOT what Christianity was about.

My husband and I moved out of the area in 1971, and the Ontario part of my life was over.  I was pleased when in the 1990s, I got a call from his daughter Dawn asking if I would speak at his retirement celebration.  I had a lot to say about the ministry of Chet and his wife Vicki.  It was factual and it was personal, and I meant every word of it.  Chet, by then a Major, told me afterwords that he was dumbfounded that I remembered so much and especially had learned so much.  And I told him it was all true, no flattery involved.

Chet died in April of 2014.  But here I am, myself at 80, still remembering the times that Chet ministered to the south end of Ontario, California with love and compassion, and remembering specifically the little kids and their families who came to church on the bus that Chet drove, learned about Christ through his Sunday School classes, and taught them how to play musical instruments, supplying the horns, tambourines and music books so they could join the little Salvation Army Band that went out on Sunday afternoons to witness at John Galvin Park.  What lovely memories I have.

Chet's got stars in his Crown, for sure!


Friday, April 22, 2016


In February of 1987 my pal Jerry Russom died.  He was only 51, way too young for sure!  He was taken swiftly by a rare and terminal neurological disorder, leaving a wife, two teenage daughters, his folks, his sister Patsy and a passel of friends.

Until Jerry and I headed off to different colleges, we had shared three years of intensive work in our high school journalism department.  I had been in classes with him through junior high school but it wasn't until meeting again as sophomores at Long Beach Poly High in 1951 that our friendship really jelled.  In our senior year of Poly each of us held the position of Editor of the weekly school newspaper "High Life" for a semester.  The picture below is from our yearbook.

It is certainly true that one can have a "best friend" of the other sex, for Jerry and I were inseparable, especially the last two years.  Early on we had tried dating, and that just wasn't in the cards for us.  But truly, my joys of high school happened because Jerry and I were together constantly, both in school and after school.  In the summers, many evenings a bunch of our journalism classmates got together at my house in a backyard patio  my dad had built so his "girls" would have a safe place to hang out – and each night we tried to solve the problems, big and small, of our world.  Or we would go to Jerry's house where his mom and dad (and his little sister) always sat in with us while we laughed ourselves silly over all the nonsensical thing that teenagers think about. 

Jerry and I kept in touch throughout our lives, mainly with little notes now and then.  The last time I saw him was when I was in San Francisco in the mid-1980s.  I dropped by his public relations business  downtown.  We had a good chat about our lives and once again shared that special feeling of being pals forever.

Interestingly, several years later when word of his death came down to Long Beach, I received a couple of sympathy cards from old friends who remembered our friendship – and who knew I would feel his death very personally.  I did.

In my estimation, Jerry is definitely not an Immortal NOBODY, but I figure he would laugh like old times if he knew that I was putting him in that category here.   He doesn't need me for posthumous prestige, for sure.  He "made it" himself – but it makes me feel good to know he won't be forgotten.

Saturday, April 2, 2016


1828 - ?

Timothy was the second child and first son of Stephen & Hannorah Hurley Madden, who started their lives in the Parish of Kilbrogan, the town of Brandon, County Cork, Ireland.   Their tombstones in the Catholic Cemetery of Mendota, Illinois gave me the information of where they were born.  

Their first three children were born in Ireland - Julia in 1825, Timothy in 1828, and John in 1830.  Their last child, Ellen, was born in Fall River, Bristol County, Massachusetts in 1834.  Ellen was my great-great Grandmother.  

In the late 1850s the family moved to Mendota, LaSalle County, Illinois.  All can be accounted for on the censuses except for Timothy.  

While I was actively researching this family and nosing around Mendota by mail, one of my letters was passed on to a fellow named Peter Donohue, who was a descendant of the Peter Donohue who married Julia Madden.  This, of course, made me a distant relative of Pete himself, and he was a gold mine of information on the Maddens.  

In one of those all-too-rare surprises in genealogical research, in the 1960s he had received, and kept, a letter from another Madden researcher (Lucille Fulton York), who descended from Ellen Madden just as I did.  Ellen was her grandmother, and Lucille remembered a lot of what her grandmother had told her about the family.  Pete forwarded a copy of her letter to me, dated from 1967, and it was there that I discovered why Timothy was absent.  There were no details, but it simply said that Timothy went to California looking for gold and was never heard from again.

Timothy Madden was a very common Irish name, and in my research I found dozens of Timothy Maddens in California during the gold rush period.  I could not find the one to whom I was related, which is not at all surprising.  

It is for this reason that I have picked him to at least be acknowledged as part of a family by appearing here --- but without a date of death.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


1854 - 1924

George Washington Ryland was the third son of James & Charlotte Bond Ryland.  He had two older brothers: Francis Marion born in 1843 and James Arthur born in 1847.  The next child was a sister, Olive Clerzen, but she died in 1850 when she was just one year old.  George came next in 1854, then Charles Albert Eugene in 1857 and Alfred Adelbert in 1858.  The family moved from Ohio to Indiana shortly before 1850.  He belongs to my mother's side of the family.

My mother told a story of George Washington being kicked in the head by a mule or a horse – she couldn't remember the details – and he had brain damage to the extent that he never was able to live by himself after that.  She, of course, had been told the story by her mom, who married into the Ryland line, so grandma would have heard the story from her husband or her father-in-law.  And you know how facts get mixed up as a story is repeated again and again.

My sister and I were either told or assumed that this injury happened when he was a small child.  However, my own family history research seems to indicate that at least until his teenage years he was active in church and was faithful in attending Sunday School and Church.  An entry in the church register in the 1880s says "SICK" – and his name never appears again.  This is possibly when the injury happened.  He was not a small child.

The two older boys married and moved away from home in Indiana, Francis back to Ohio and James to Kansas.  Alfred died in 1887 when he was not yet 30, leaving Charles Albert as the only son close at hand to help the  parents as they aged.  And at a certain point in time Charles and his wife Mary Jennie also took over the care of George.  Eventually the Charles Ryland family moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, and that is where George died in 1924 at the age of 69.  There is nothing on his death certificate to indicate that he suffered from a head injury.  His cause of death is shown as "old age" and a contributing cause was "Cardiac Dilatation."

In thinking about poor George, it seems to me that he is a good representative of an Immortal Nobody.  Because of his injury, there was no part of his life that distinguished him, no mention is made of him other than on census reports.  Charles and family lived so far from any other of the family members that no notice of him ever appeared in the ephemera collected by several other Ryland genealogists in their researching.  I placed him on, and a photographer named Barbara provided a good photo of his stone.  She graciously offered her photo for researchers' use, and for that I am grateful.  Absent a photo of him, it will stand as notice that George Washing Ryland will not be forgotten.  

He was my great-grandfather James Arthur Ryland's brother.

Saturday, March 12, 2016



In 1850 Henry and Nancy Matney Corel and children lived in Jackson County, Missouri, having come from Tazewell County, VA.

The family on the census looked like this:
Henry 35
Nancy  30
Sarah  11
William  10
Jemima  8
Julia  6
Margaret  4
Louisa  2
  ....................Shortly there would be a baby Rebecca.
                            and daughter Sarah would marry in 1853 and stay in Missouri.

The family moved across the Missouri River as soon as Kansas opened up for settlement, and in May of 1855 the Henry Corel family looked like this:
Jemima  13
Julia 11
Margaret 9
Louisa 5
Rebecca 3

Where were Dad, Mom and William?

In 1929, Jemima's daughter Agnes wrote a family history and here is part of her story:

Nancy Corel, Henry, her husband, Will, their teen-aged son, and Nancy's sister Jemima all died within a week of measles, the epidemic of measles at Lawrence....They survived an epidemic of small pox and died of measles.  All four of them lay dead in the house - one room - at the same time. The neighbors came in and built coffins of native walnut lumber so abundant in Kansas in an early day....Mama said she could hear the hammers building the coffins.  Mama was fourteen.

All those who died in the measles epidemic were buried on Mt. Oread.  Later this was vacated as a cemetery but the graves being unmarked it is likely their ashes are still there.  

When Henry's estate was probated, the children were all named but it was noted that Sarah couldn't be found and was never heard from again.

Although Agnes didn't know this, (and I uncovered it in the process of researching this family), when the "Pioneer Cemetery", which was on the grounds of KU, was vacated, the bodies were moved to Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence and placed in the large COREL section.

As to that cemetery, the property that later became Oak Hill Cemetery was originally purchased by Henry Corel when the family moved from Missouri to Kansas, sold to Thomas Sternberger by the estate administrator, and in turn was donated by him to the city of Lawrence.

Henry Highland Corel was my great-grandmother's oldest brother.  She was Nancy Maryland Corel, who married first Frank Lahay and after being widowed, married James Sellers Dobbins.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


In the spring of 1908, the Sells-Floto traveling circus arrived in Riverside, California for its annual visit.  Included in the menagerie of animals that came with that circus were a number of elephants.  Their first job was to participate in the circus parade through downtown Riverside, carrying advertisements for local businesses.  On April 16, 1908, there were six elephants, Old Mom, Trilby, Floto, Snyder, Alice and Frieda.

Unbeknownst to the participants, several blocks from the circus grounds a Mr. Leonidas Worsley was at the Standard Oil Company storage yard filling his delivery tank with distillate when the tank exploded, starting a large fire.  Black clouds of smoke filled the air, a wind coming from the north sent sparks directly toward the canvas circus tents.  The black smoke followed.  The elephants, which had been staked out in front of the tents panicked, pulled out their stakes and started running, all except Old Mom and Trilby.  The elephant handlers set out to "capture" the other four, and eventually got all of them except for Floto, who was busy breaking his way through gardens and fences in a residential area.  He was not having a gentle look-see; citizens had started firing their guns hoping to ward off the loose elephant and it had maddened him. 

At the intersection of Fourth and Mulberry Street, Floto spied Ella Gibbs, a spinster of 49 years old who had attempted to visit friends on Mulberry but found them not at home and the house locked up.  Quoting from the Journal of the Riverside Historical Society, in an article written by Aaron Maggs and Allison Maggs, (Issue 17, February 2013, p 21) "As she turned from the door, Gibbs found Floto bearing down on her as he made his way onto the porch.  Floto pinned the frightened woman against the house with his long tusks, then seized her with his trunk, lifting her in the air before dropping her to the porch.  The great beast then butted his head against the helpless woman before bringing his large drum-like forefoot down upon her chest.  He then backed down the porch steps and continued on his way southwest toward Fifth Street."

Ella was taken to the County Hospital, where she died at 9 p.m on April 16, 1908.  Newspapers reported that her body was sent to her home town of Bunker Hill, Illinois.  She was buried in Bunker Hill Cemetery.

She was not the only person killed during this circus event.  The oil delivery man whose tank exploded lived four days before he died.  His story is told on the Immortal Nobodies blot of October 31, 2013.

Cemetery photo by "Denmother" on ""

Friday, February 26, 2016

In Istanbul there is a small chapel referred to as the "Dutch Chapel" because it is located in the Dutch embassy.  In that chapel is a record book where names and places of people passing through the little chapel are recorded.  At the time I lived in Istanbul, Lew and Nancy Scudder were the pastors of the church.  They knew I was interested in learning about any Americans who were buried in the Protestant Cemetery at Ferikoy-Istanbul and they wanted me to take a look at their Chapel's Record Book.

At that time, my object was to learn as much as I could about each American buried in that cemetery - who were they, why were they in Turkey, where had they come from in America, and anything other tidbits that might come up.  There seemed to be no one place where all that information was available, and I intended to research as much as I could until it was time to return to California.

The entries in the Record Book at the Dutch Chapel really started much later than I expected.  As I recall, the earliest notations were from the 1920s.  I had been researching from the records of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions whose presence in that city began in the 1830s and I was a bit skeptic that this late record book would be very helpful.  But I was very wrong.

I had been alerted to the fact that an American Hippie had died in  shootout with the Istanbul Police in the 1960s but none of my contacts could give me a name or a good date.   But he was listed in the Dutch Chapel book, along with many others who died in the 1900s instead of the 1800s.

But most poignant was the following:

The Report of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Membershio of the Union Church, Istanbul, Page. 165:

In a blinding snowstorm in January of 1945, an American Naval Airplane crashed in Thrace not far from Istanbul, and three of its complement were instantly killed.  The plane was burned after an explosion and one body was never found.  The bodies of these two pilots were interred on 3 February 1945 in the Protestant Cemetery, Ferikoy, Istanbul.

Their names were posted in the Dutch Chapel Record book along with the above:  Lt. Lauren Winslow Hawees, USN, and Lt. JG Anthony F. Sommer, Jr. USN.

There was no marker where these men were buried.

In further research I contacted the National Personnel Center in St. Louis, Missouri.  This is the data they sent me:

Lauren Winslow HAWES
born 9 July 1913, Natick, MA
died 30 Jan 1945 Thrace (near Istanbul) Turkey
Dependents: Wife Rachel Hawes (nee Whittemore), Daughter Suzanne
Service: U. S. Naval Reserve - 16 Sep 1940 to Jan 1945
Last known address: Key West, Florida
Service Number: 75916

Anthony F. Sommer, Jr.
born 27 Jun 1922 Detroit, Michigan
died 30 Jan 1945 Thrace (near Istanbul) Turkey
Dependents: Father Anthony F. Sommer Sr.: Mother Helen Sommer; sister June/Jane
Marital Status - single
Service: US Naval Reserve. 13 Aug 1942 - 30 Jan 1945
Inducted Corpus Christi, TX, Jacksonville, FL, Norfolk, VA
Decoration and medals - European, African, Middle Eastern area Campaign medal
Last known address, 18914 Gainsborough (town not given).

At the time I was in Istanbul, there was no marker to identify where these men are buried.  However, since that time the cemetery received a large bequest from an American woman who had spent many years in Istanbul (I had heard of her through a friend, who spoke of her as "Charlie".  As I understood it, part of her money went to commemorate these two Americans who lost their lives so long ago.  I also understood that at least one of the bodies was subsequently brought back to America for re-interment.

I submit that these man surely belong to my Immortal Nobodies.

This is a picture of the 1945 flag they flew under.  Note that there were only 48 stars.