Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I Would Like to Meet…?

I Would Like to Meet…?

I think most of us would have several names of people we would like to meet. I’m one of those. I never knew my paternal grandparents. I look at their pictures and wonder what kind of people they were. Both died by the time my dad was 6-yrs-old. I imagine them as caring and loving. I hope they were.

Along those same lines my paternal grandfather lost his dad about 5-yrs-old. His father served almost the entire Civil War. After the war he was sickly and died in 1874 at the age of 40. What did the war do to him? Did it leave him bitter or depressed? And then there is his wife. She was left a widow with two small children to raise in an era when women lacked the resources to care for their selves let alone children. Only 25-yrs-old she was forced to put her two boys in a children’s home until she married again and could take the boys back. I think I have a tintype picture of her although it’s not identified. See looks so lovely and sweet.

But maybe at the top of my list would be my second great uncle, Andrew ‘A.J.’ Moore. He was at the Battle of Little Big Horn where he was killed on Reno Hill. Just 22 when he joined the 7th Cavalry he was killed at the age of 22. I’ve read where he was mentioned in a few books about the battle. There are four letters in the National Archives that he wrote to his mother. She had to submit them when she applied for a mother’s pension. As he was a member of my family and a part if an American historical event, I’d like to know more about him and the type of man he grew to be.

But let’s face it. Most of use would like to meet all those ancestors on whose shoulders we stand.
#Ancestors, #Andrew Moore

Monday, February 11, 2019

Unusual Names

Unusual Names

While researching my Bristol line early in my family genealogy quest, I came across my 7th great grandfather whose name was Eliphalet. I didn’t know what to think of this strange name. It sounded like elephant. It turned out there was four generations of Eliphalets. I should have had more knowledge of the Old Testament. One of David’s sons was named Eliphalet and it’s meaning is “God Delivers Me.” Later I could add names like Benoni, Berkina, Elfern, Huldah and more. In today’s world we name children unusual names too. A classmate was named Zonie. She was born in the Panama Canal Zone. As a teacher I saw many children with unusual names. Some were made up names. Some may have been common 100 years ago but not today. A boy named Lynn may have been ok long ago but in today’s world he better be a fighter. And is a child named “Baby Girl” is going to have a hard time being taken seriously in adulthood. I’d be surprised if she has a chance to be elected President.
#Unusual names, #Names

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Challenge of Military Service

Millions of people have accepted the challenge of military service. The challenge takes many forms. Most have been challenged physically as training often calls them to go beyond anything they’ve tried before. Sometimes it’s loneliness. They’re separated from family and friends and must form new social connections. Sometimes it’s humiliation. In the beginning they’re humbled and brought low so that they can be formed into something new that will fit in with military service. Perhaps they feel they know how to do or accomplish a task but must bow to a higher authority. And then there is loss. It may be physical, mental or even the ultimate sacrifice of life. Most families have those who answered the call of military service including mine.

Some of those ancestors who served are known to me only in name. I don’t know what they thought or achieved. Captain John Mason served in the Pequot Indian War, 1636-7. Abel Bristol served with the NY Militia with his brother Aaron during the Revolutionary War.

My great grandfather Charles McMechen served in the 1st Maryland Infantry (Union) during the Civil War. I don’t know all that he went through, but it changed his life. He injured his hand at Five Forks and suffered a rupture at Weldon Railroad. After the war he left family and friends and moved to Philadelphia. After a letter to tell them where he went, he never contacted them again. He received a pension in his later years.

My great grandfather Charles S. Moore served in the 4th New Jersey Infantry (Kearny’s 1st Brigade) during the Civil War. His brother John served with him. He had bad feet only made worse with marching and eventually was made wagoner because it was difficult for him to keep up. He was the oldest son and when his father died, he had the dilemma of staying with his unit or going home to help his mother save the family home. He decided to go home and help. Then on his trip back to his unit he was arrested for be AWOL. A court martial was convened, and he was docked $10 of his monthly $13 pay for several months. Imagine his distress this caused as he was helping support his mother and six siblings. The war took its toll and he died in 1874 at the age of 34. John later received a pension for his injuries suffered at Cold Harbor.

Charles’ younger brother Andrew enlisted in the 7th Cavalry. I’ve read letters he wrote to his mother that are in the National Archives. In the first written while the 7th was posted in the South for the Reconstruction and KKK threat, he asked if she can get him out of the military. Doesn’t everyone have thoughts like that during those first days of military service. A later letter written again from the South telling that he had been court marshalled for letting a KKK prisoner escape. Like his brother he was docked pay for several months. His family was again financially punished as Andrew was supporting his mother. Medical records show he suffered a bout of malaria and like most cavalry men degenerated spinal disks due to the type of saddles they had. In 1876 Andrew faced the ultimate challenge. At Little Big Horn he was part of a charge down the valley that ended badly when faced with superior number of warriors. He hid in the woods and I can imagine his fear. Finally, he made his way to Reno Hill only to be shot in the kidneys. He showed his bravery when he told the doctor to help the others as he knew he was mortally wounded. He died on that second day or the battle.

My grandmother’s brother Harry F. McMechen served in the Spanish American War. My grandfather, Edward Wiedrich joined the Merchant Marine during WWI and again later during WWII.

During WWII my father was a 1st Sergeant in a Combat Engineers Regiment. He had applied and was accepted for a Navy commission but had be drafted by the Army who would not release him. He suffered severe headaches but refused to be discharged.

My father-in-law, William Baker served in the Army Air Corp in the Pacific during WWII and returned home stressed and his health affected.

Aunt Bonnie Wiedrich Selb served in the Navy during WWII. I think she genuinely enjoyed her service, but it was not without some difficulties. She spoke of walking down the street in Washington DC in her uniform when some would spit at them. There were people who thought the women in the military were those of ill repute or were responsible of replacing a male relative who was then sent into combat. Here other difficulty was due to her top-secret work on Project Ultra. They could not tell what they did until the top secret was declassified under threat of being shot. It was not declassified until 1980. That meant her husband and family didn’t learn of her job until 1980 and her father died never knowing of her service record.

Service continues to be a part of my family. My cousins Don Wiedrich and Leo Selb served in the Army. My cousins John and Ed Rupp, my husband Bill Baker and myself have all served in the National Guard.

Lives have been interrupted, ambitions put on hold, but we have been a part of our country’s history.


#52 Ancestors 2019

#Military Service

#Charles McMechen

#Charles S. Moore

#Andrew Moore

#Earl Moore

#Bonnie Selb

Thursday, January 24, 2019


First, 52 Ancestors 2019

I was the first in my father’s family to graduate from high school. I was also the first to graduate from college. The only reason for this was my amazing, supportive family. My dad, Earl Moore lost both his parents at the age of 5 and 6 years of age. He had older siblings, but they were hardly able to support themselves let alone take on him and his 8-year-old sister. My grandfather was a Mason in Fernwood Lodge in Philadelphia and so they were sent to the Pennsylvania Masonic Children’s Home in Elizabethtown, PA. Orphanages were usually bleak places in the 1920s, but this home was a good place to be. The facilities were beautiful with nutritious food. There were music lessons, sports, and education in Elizabethtown’s public schools. He would have been educated through high school and even some possibility of college. But even a wonderful orphanage is still an orphanage, so he could leave at 16-yrs-old. He went to live with his sister and work took the place of school. His parents didn’t go to high school. His father, my grandfather lost his father at 5-yrs-old and went to a children’s home until his mother remarried several years later.

I was blessed with terrific parents. They valued education. They were interactive with me, teaching me all kinds of things. They encouraged, told me I was smart, and I could achieve. While many teens in my town had afterschool jobs, they forbid me to work. Instead they wanted me to take academic courses, play sports and be a Girl Scout. All these things enabled me to graduate from high school and go to college. They also instilled a sense of volunteerism. Something I’ve done all my life. So, while I may have been the first in my father’s line its is totally due to their support and nurture.


#52 Ancestors 2019

#Earl Moore

#Arlene Baker

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Same Name

Parents often want to honor someone in their family. My 2nd great grandfather was named Charles Shoemaker Moore. That name was passed on to his oldest son who passed it on to his oldest son. When my brother was born there was a disagreement about his name. My dad’s sister wanted it to be Charles Shoemaker Moore, but my mom didn’t like Shoemaker for part of his name. On a hot August dinner after some arguing my dad said he would name him Terry after the Philadelphia Phillies manager, Terry Moore. My mom said fine, but little did she know that the next day my brother would be born premature. So, his name was Terry Charles Moore.

Other relatives sharing a name with a child or grandchild would have adjectives added to differentiate. So, there was Big Helen and Little Helen, Big John and Little John, Big Margaretta and Baby Margaretta. My name is a reversal of my mother’s. Hers Millicent Arline and mine Arlene Millicent.

In my husband’s family William is a very common name and not always bestowed on a child but a spouse marrying into the family having William as a name. My husband is William as is his oldest son. His father, both grandfathers and two great grandfathers are all named William. His mother’s brother and his sister’s spouse are Williams. Two cousins and a nephew are named William.
#52 Ancestors, #52 Ancestors 2018, #52 Ancestors Same Name

Monday, August 6, 2018

Going to the Chapel

Bill and I decided to get married while at Annual Training for  the Army National Guard in June of 1981. We picked July 18th giving us about one month to plan. My parents were probably thrilled I was getting married but I’m sure my mom was a little disappointed that it would not be the wedding she would have like. My parents were married in the home of my dad’s sister, Caroline. It was a simple affair with just a few friends.

We planned a church wedding at the First Methodist Church in Gloucester City, NJ – my home town. We only planned for a matron of honor and a best man. My matron was Letitia Sarracino. We were both teachers at the same high school where we were students just one year apart. My friend Irma Zank was the soloist and we three were active in that church. Jimmy Ridge, a distant cousin played the organ. Bill’s best man was his uncle, Joe Baker.

I had picked a gown that I easily got off the bridal rack at Penney’s. No alterations necessary. The day of the wedding came, and it was a sunny, hot July day. The photographer was someone my dad knew who took the Little League pictures. Our neighbor loaned us his nice car and one of the students from school asked if he could be the driver. We arrived at church, but Bill’s mom wasn’t there. After about a half hour delay she arrived with her sister-in-law and nephew Bill and his family. Nephew Bill couldn’t find his shoes and that held them up. Meanwhile my Bill was the room at the rear of the church not knowing what was happening. He worried I might have changed my mind. The ceremony continued without any other delays.

The reception was in my parents’ back yard. Me, my mom, her friends and mine all helped to make the food. My friend Judy made sure the food was ready to eat and her husband served drinks at a home bar set up in the yard. My mom wanted music and so she got some sheets of plywood laid down in the yard and my brother’s boom box provided the music. Friends, neighbors and relatives were invited. The high school softball team I coached all came too as did some of our army friends. Everyone seemed to have a good time. I had chosen my cake with several pastel colors. Letitia ‘Tish’ was pregnant, and I had told her to pick a dress she like in whatever color she wanted. She chose a peachy, melon color so the cake was planned to go with what ever she picked. Bill and I cut the cake and left the rest to be cut by Judy. When our first anniversary came around I asked if we were supposed to eat a piece of wedding cake. That’s when I found out that the top layers of the cake had slid off and onto the floor due to the high heat. No air conditioning at my mom’s house.

Eventually the day came to an end and Bill and I left for a trip out west. We stayed in a nearby motel that first night and then headed to New Mexico and Arizona for a two-week honeymoon. My mother-in-law took care of Bill’s 4 kids at her home in Cape May until our return.
#52 Ancestors, #52 Ancestors 2018, #Weddings, #Arlene Baker

Sunday, August 5, 2018

So Far Away

I grew up with only one set of living grandparents. My dad’s parents died 30 years before I was born. My mon’s parents lived in Tampa, Florida, 1100 miles away from us. In the 50s and 60s most people didn’t travel far very often. I would see my grandparents about once every two years. Sometimes we would go to Florida by car (a 3-day journey before interstate highways), sometimes by bus or train. Sometimes my grandparents would drive up here to NJ. There were letters and phone calls (not too often with those long-distance charges). But those things don’t make up for the loss of close regular contact with grandparents. My grandparents and parents made sure those visits were perfect. I loved and adored them. Of course, as and adult I would see their flaws. I loved them but grieve for not knowing them and they not knowing me better.

I am so blessed to spend frequent time with my grandchildren. I hope that they will have many fond memories and feel they’ve been short changed with quality grandparent time.
#52 Ancestors, #52 Ancestors 2018, #Grandparents