DNA: 18 DNA Circles

In my last post – DNA: Finally More DNA Circles – Before & Now I had 16 DNA circles. Within a week of the post, one DNA circle went poof, and I was left with 15; I lost James Gooch.

I’m  told the circles come and go depending on new DNA testing, or changes you make in your tree, but if you showed the connection before… seems like they would only add not subtract – unless you delete them off your tree. This DNA search is a learning process – a search we are all delving into – blindly. It helps to have more cousins in on the process and testing, so if you are reading this – I hope it encourages you to take the DNA test and share your results. We will all learn together!

18 DNA Circles!

18 DNA Circles

Robert C. Wilson (new)  was discovered this past week, along with his son, John P. Wilson, who has not appeared yet. The Wilson line connects through my grandmother Evelyn Little Bryan – her grandfather and great grandfather.

Robert C Wilson bio

It puzzles me how Robert was born in Georgia, but didn’t remain in Georgia, instead relocating to N.C. to marry and raise his family. (I only have Ancestry’s word at present of him born in GA. – another puzzle to solve!) Did he return as an adult or return with his parents as a child? His son, my John P. Wilson, spent his adult life in Georgia. I need to work more on the census to follow Robert and possibly determine his parents. Find A Grave was very informative and helpful with photos as well as information, including the obit of John.


18 DNA Circles 2

Berrian Clark Bryan (new) –  Finally he has appeared! YooHoo!!! I hope to keep adding to my Bryan line…

Now that Berrian Clark Bryan has appeared – what about his wife Berrilla Free? Her mother Sarah “Sally” Free and her father Martin Free are listed… I find it hard to believe that her DNA was skipped over. Who has the answers?

Berrilla Free

I’m hoping for Berrilla to show soon!

18 DNA Circles 3

Jemimah Hines Wilson (new) – wife of Robert C. Wilson. A new thread of DNA with the Hines and Wilson lines.

18 DNA Circles 4

All same from previous DNA circle post.


18 DNA Circles 5

Same from original DNA circle post.

Ancestry says the DNA circles go back 6 generations – I’m waiting for no 6!

Questions, Questions, Questions… but when will I receive the answers to solve the puzzle?

DNA matches new

New cousin matches are showing with the addition of the 3 DNA circles – more detective work is needed!

If you have questions I haven’t posed here – please leave me a comment or suggestion on my post. It will take an army of cousins to solve this!

For more, click .DNA: My Results are in

© 2016, Copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.



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DNA: Finally More DNA Circles – Before & Now

DNA: Finally More DNA Circles

Before and Now

YooHoo, after only one week of uploading my Gedcom to Ancestry, I went from 3 potential new ancestors or relatives who are not in my family tree at present to 4. 2 DNA circles to 16. My cousin, Charles Bryan went to 12 – sharing all those same 12 with me.





matches 4.jpg

A wife of Clemeth Cavender was added – but Who is Clemeth Cavender. I need to begin seriously research this couple as they intrigue me at the moment. In looking at Clemeth Cavender’s date of birth of 1774, who is he connected to – Bryan? Cain? Free?



I went from 2 DNA circles to 16 after uploading my gedcom. My cousin, Charles Bryan went to 12 – sharing all those same 12 with me.

DNA circles

Using linking my Ancestry tree online, I only had two DNA circles!


16 dna

16 dna 2

16 dna 3

16 dna 4

YOO HOO – Finally after uploading my gedcom, I now have 16 DNA circles!!!

I’m happy to now see  James Bryan (4th great grandfather) in my DNA circles. I had begun to question my own Bryan paternity when he wasn’t showing up!

The DNA process is rolling along – stay tuned for more matches – maybe I’ll be able to break down my Bryan wall – eventually!

But I do have so many questions, and the more I look at those circles, the more questions pop in my head –  so I’ll list them here – just in case someone can help or offer a suggestion!

  • Why does my Berrian Clark Bryan not show up in a DNA circle? Is there something I have listed wrong, or written incorrectly that is stopping a match?
  • Berrilla Free, wife of Berrian C. Bryan does not show up either, but the funny thing is – her mother Sally Free shows – now isn’t that odd? I saw her place of death was listed as Hall Co. in some profiles of her. While I believe that Lumpkin Co. is correct, I changed my tree to Hall Co.  If that makes a difference, then she should show up in about a week or disappear – LOL.
  • There seems to be a gap between my William Clark Bryan to James Bryan – and that is where my William Madison Bryan and Berrian Clark Bryan fit. There should not be a gap – so what piece of information is stopping that? I did take the “t” off of William Madison Bryan – as he went by “Bryant” in later years and it is on his gravestone, but I removed it to see if that makes any difference.
  • As I have some 5th generations showing in DNA Circles – I know it goes back that far. So, why isn’t my John Bryan showing, father of James Bryan? What information is stopping that link? I have an abt. birth date of 1760, while others have 1761 or 1765 – could that be stopping it? But isn’t Ancestry analyzing the complete picture of my tree – and he is there. (I changed his birth to 1765 Rowan Co., N.C. to match others and gave a death date of Oct. 20, 1825 Franklin Co., to better match with what others have – time will tell.)
  • And those possible DNA matches, that are not in my tree at present are really driving me crazy – just so you know Ancestry! Did you throw those in to tease me?
  • Maybe I need to have my mother’s DNA tested so I can possibly have more maternal matches. At present, I do have some McKinley and Beatty, from a few generations back, but no Sharp, Hillsman, Askew, Meadows or Lancaster. I will definitely have mama do a DNA test in October on my Georgia visit; I can only imagine her remarks on this!


© 2016, Copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

For more, click .DNA: My Results are in

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DNA: Results are in – May 14, 2016

DNA: My Results are in – May 14, 2016


Finally, after waiting weeks and weeks, my results have finally arrived, and hopefully will  prove more beneficial than the first test I took with a Groupon Coupon; it gave me, at least I thought, a strange percentage of ethnicity. This DNA test was done by giving a 1/2 teaspoon of saliva vs a swab of my inner cheeks on the first one.

DNA percentage

My Ethnicity percentages…

I was a little puzzled with Europe West – exactly what does this cover. This had me searching to understand, but I keep thinking where is my Scottish lines or is this DNA more geared toward my paternal lines? I haven’t thought I identified with the groups below but it looks like I have some surprises in store to discover- I need to put my “thinking cap” on!

map of 5th unit

Ancestry says Western Europe is of this mix!

DNA is our living history – and shares back hundreds of years to trace our ancestors who walked this earth before us. Hopefully my choice to share my DNA will lead me to break through several brickwalls. My no. 1 brickwall is of the parentage of my John Bryan married to Nancy (unk) – and No it’s not Nancy Mayes. So many researchers link her to John Bryan, father of James Bryan, born 1791. If they seriously look at her birth date of 1787, there is no way she could be the mother of my James Bryan (1791-1885), but people keep tying her to John Bryan Sr. In actuality, Nancy Mayes is married to John Bryan Jr., son of John and Nancy (unk) Bryan.


My first click on Ancestry to check out my DNA results told me they haven’t found a new ancestor for me yet. I didn’t really expect to sign on and immediately find new ancestors, but I’m sure somewhere in the back of my mind – I was! I think this will be a continual work in progress and I plan on sharing my finds and discoveries here.

dna lives

I was excited to discover that I initially had 335 DNA matches to wade through of possible new cousins, but many are only as good as the information shared on family trees and DNA matches; some matches have no tree, and some only have private trees. It seems that the matches can change daily as more DNA results are uploaded as just before I published this post, my  DNA matches changed to 674.

I was more excited with my ethnicity results on this DNA test as it showed no Asian like the first test of 13 percent – which totally confused me. Not to say, that I couldn’t have Asian in my lines, but in my twenty-plus years of searching – I have not discovered any.



In July (2016) my cousin Charles Bryan’s DNA results came back and it showed me as his first match – well I knew that! But even with him testing as a direct male Bryan, he wasn’t showing our Bryan line back any further than his grandfather, William Clark Bryan – my great grandfather. No DNA circles have shown up for him yet, but the Sara Elizabeth Turner we share is from who my DNA circles of Gooch and Grizzle come through. I’m sure they will show on his also, but I’m still puzzled by no further connections on our Bryan line. At present I have him connected to my Bryan gedcom tree, but I may have to make him a seperate tree to see if it turns up any Bryan circles and takes our Bryan line back further.


DNA circles

I am really puzzled with my DNA circles – first all – there’s only two! As I didn’t have a full complete tree on Ancestry, I uploaded my gedcom hoping to have more DNA circles – preferably Bryan DNA matches. I even called Ancestry to inquire, and they told me it could take several weeks for the matches to appear – not sure if I believe that, but I really don’t have a choice; Every time you link a new tree, it takes time for it to be analyzed for matches.



These three matches really puzzle me as I don’t have them in my gedcom and only recognize the name “Cavender” as being in Lumpkin County. I looked around at some of the leaf hints, but haven’t discovered a match.

If I could only see Bryan matches – I think it would motivate me more!

My mission, if I so choose to accept it, is to discover my DNA matches within these circles. As always, should I not research, I will not break down any new brick-walls or meet new cousins.

This post will self-destruct in five seconds.

Exit now!

For more, click DNA: My Results are in

© 2016, Copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

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Everyone Has a Story: When Hitchhiking was Safe!

When Hitchhiking was Safe!

When was the last time you picked up a hitchhiker? Or have you not ever – and in today’s world – Would you ever?


During the 50’s and 60’s and maybe even into the 70’s – people often picked up a man in uniform. Most men in that time frame had served, as the draft was still in place, and they knew the problems facing those young men – trying to get home on leave. There was a male-bonding whenever they saw a guy in uniform. My father was one of those guys – he never passed up a guy in uniform. Maybe daddy remembered being one of those guys once as he traveled home on leave and back to base; money was always tight.

As a young girl, I loved when daddy picked up those young boys and I’m sure I probably acted all silly – daddy probably squashed any flirting on my part!

Many weekends found my parents packing the station wagon and heading to my grandparents farm – and it was often on those trips when daddy came across a couple of service guys hitchhiking – and always in uniform.

My father never drove by and left them standing; they always got a ride, even if it meant going out of his way to drop them off at their destination.

Mama remembers daddy picking up a couple of Navy guys on one trip; they kept a constant chatter about the ships they had served on; my father served on the USS Washburn and the USS Blue Ridge. I sure wish my “ears” had been on during those conversation, as I might have learned a few “tid-bits” about his Navy career. I might have finally learned about that day in 1946 at Bikini Atoll when the atomic bomb testing took place. My father was on-board the USS Blue Ridge for all three tests. If you’d like to read a story on the Bikini Atoll bomb testings; https://jinsalacoblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/week-36-september-13-2014-52-ancestor-52-week-blog-anchors-aweigh-u-s-n-harold-clayton-bryan/

If only I had this interest when I was young – and the more I read on the bomb testing, the more interest I acquire. It would have been so exciting to have heard first hand from my father, of what he saw and experienced. Now I can only learn from reading other accounts.

After my parents divorce, my mother moved back to the small town of Siloam, Georgia; back to the farm where she would live and care for her father. She remembered driving through town one day and seeing an Army soldier standing in town on the corner with his bag – looking lost. In her words, “what is this guy doing here in this small “no traffic light” farm town.” She felt sorry for him and picked him up. He had been dropped off on I-20 a few miles out of town and was now lost! She thought nothing of picking him up and driving him over to the next town to pick up I-20 again. Knowing mama, I’m sure she had her trusty friend hiding under the seat or in her purse.

When my mother worked at Holiday Inn and traveled I-20 late at night, she always carried Uncle Joe’s revolver in her purse. It was the same one used when he was sheriff in town. It seems our family ran the town; besides my grandfather’s brother being the sheriff, his first cousin was the mayor. Siloam was a small one-horse town where everyone knew everyone – and their business! But it was a safe one-horse town.

Hitchhiking was just another part of society when times were different.

Like to read more, click… Family Stories

© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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Weekend Weather Vanes: Beach Theme

Weekend Weather Vanes: Beach Theme

While antiquing today, couldn’t help but spot these beach-theme weather vanes! I’m looking up so much lately that I spot more, but trip over steps…. If I could only look down as well as up – at the same time!

telescope weathervaneClinton Firehouse copy
I Spy… high above the firehouse in Clinton, CT.
pirate ship weathervane Clinton church
Ahoy Matey….. this ship sits across from the Clinton firehouse on top of a church, that I forgot to note the name of.
whale weathervane Milford
Thar She Blows…. Headed out to Milford Audubon and found Moby Dick!
Stork weathervane Milford
Stork Delivery landing in Milford, CT.
dolphin weathervane Milford
Flipper tied my beach  theme together!
over Stonebridge

Swordfish atop Stonebridge Restaurant.

In as many times as I have passed by Stonebridge, it took hubby to point it out to me!

across from coast guard auxiliary

And yet another Swordfish – almost directly across from each other – as the crow flies. This sits across from the Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla on Helwig St., in Milford, CT.

stork in milford

I haven’t determined if this weather vane is a Crane or Stork in flight, but it looked awesome high above. The bird was shot as I stood at the Milford yacht area walkway – also still at the Coast Guard Auxiliary; it is located just across the waterway. 

I found a few more unique weather vanes today on our ride on Route 1 along the coast, but I’ll save them for another theme! More beach theme weather vanes will be added here as they are found – so do check back in.

Remember, there are interesting things  “UP” – so look up once in awhile – just don’t trip!

Want more – click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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Roger Sherman: Signer of the Declaration of the Independence

Roger Sherman – Signer of the Declaration of the Independence

roger sherman


It was  Heather Wilkinson Rojo  idea of a Fourth of July post on signers of the Declaration of the Independence that challenged me to search my state (Connecticut) for signers, and I found one buried in my home town of New Haven, Connecticut – Roger Sherman.


Oak Grove Cemetery – New Haven, Connecticut

My husband and I visited Roger Sherman’s grave-site at Oak Grove Cemetery, just behind Yale University. I also came across a few more interesting graves while there and will post them at another time; a return trip is needed for more information and photos.


Original gravestone was the tablet


Gravestone placed by the descendants of Roger Sherman

Sherman was born in 1721, Newton, Massachusetts, to William and Mehetable Sherman; he was one of seven siblings born to this family. Roger’s father farmed to provide for his family, but he also provided access to a good library for his children, which Roger took full advantage of as he enjoyed learning. Besides his farming chores, he learned the trade of a cobbler, but his desire to read and learn always kept him with his father’s many books in hand. His schooling consisted of only attending a common school as no higher education could be afforded to him.

In 1743, Roger’s life took a turn due to his father’s death. He moved with his mother and siblings to New Milford, Connecticut and began a partnership with his brother William; they opened the town’s first general store. He joined in quickly with civil and religious affairs and soon became a leading citizen of his new hometown, which resulted in him becoming town clerk.

Roger Sherman married twice, first to Elizabeth Hartwell on 17 Nov 1749; they had seven children before she died in 1760. He remarried three years later to Rebecca Prescott on May 12, 1763 and had eight children; only thirteen reached adulthood from his two families.

Having no formal legal education, Sherman was admitted to the bar in 1754 and embarked upon a distinguished long judicial and political career. In 1761, Sherman abandoned his law practice, and moved to New Haven, CT. where he managed two stores, one that catered to Yale students, and another in nearby Wallingford. Roger had strong associations with Yale and soon became a friend and benefactor of Yale College, serving for many years as its treasurer.

In 1765 an honorary Master of Arts degree was bestowed to Sherman. Roger being mostly self-taught, was full of knowledge, and wrote and published almanacs yearly that included information on astronomy, religion and weather.

It seems he was held in high regard by many, as Thomas Jefferson described Sherman as “a man who never said a foolish thing in his life” and John Adams view was that he was “one of the most sensible men in the world.” Sounds like we could sure use him in politics today!

Sherman quickly became active in “politics” and the colonies struggle for independence from the British rule, which was very strong in New Haven. During the years of 1774-1781 and 1783-1784 he served in the Continental Congress and it was at that time when he helped to write the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation; Sherman also signed the Continental Association, which created the trade boycott with Great Britain.

Roger Sherman was the only man to sign all four great state papers of the United States; the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.


In 1784, Sherman took on the role of mayor in New Haven and served until his death in 1793. Also during that time, he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1789 until 1791. Roger soon became a Connecticut Senator after a serving senator died – a seat he held until his death; he died in his sleep on July 23, 1793, after suffering from a two-month illness of typhoid fever.

Roger Sherman was buried in the New Haven Green cemetery originally, but in 1821 all buried on the green were relocated; his remains was moved to the Grove Street Cemetery. The green had become cluttered with gravestones and after three church’s were built on the green, they thought it better to remove them to another location; it was found to be cheaper to move them vs building a stone wall to enclose them.

A few more Interesting things I learned:

  • George Washington always visited Sherman whenever he was in New Haven.
  • Sherman was often called the “forgotten founder.”
  • By the year 1784, Sherman held four civil offices – he was on the Governor’s Council, in the Continental Congress and mayor of New Haven, Ct. Imagine holding all offices at once?


Places and things named in honor of Roger Sherman

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Sherman


Words etched on the gravestone of Roger Sherman

In memory of
Mayor of the city of New-Haven,
and Senator of the United States.
He was born at Newton, in Massachusetts,
April 19th, 1721,
And died in -New-Haven, July 23d, A, D. 1793,
aged LXXII.
Possessed of a strong, clear, penetrating mind,
and singular perseverance,
he became the self-taught scholar,
eminent for jurisprudence and policy.
He was nineteen years an assistant,
and twenty-three years a judge of the superior court,
in high reputation.
He was a Delegate in the first Congress,
signed the glorious act of Independence,
and many years displayed superior talents and ability
in the national legislature.
He was a member of the general convention,
approved the federal constitution,
And served his country with fidelity and honour,
in the House of Representatives,
and in the Senate of the United States.
He was a man of approved integrity;
a cool, discerning Judge;
a prudent, sagacious Politician;
a true, faithful, and firm Patriot.
He ever adorned
the profession of Christianity
which he made in youth;
and distinguished through life
for public usefulness,
died in the prospect of a blessed immortality.

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

Posted in Connecticut History, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #33

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #33

I call my mother almost nightly to chat, hear how her day went, and as always, enjoy her stories. Several years back, I began scribbling on paper those nightly musings. Later I started a journal on my computer and began Conversations with Mama, and just recently last year began compiling them here on my blog. On my last visit to mom, I gifted her a book of all I had so far – she had never saw them. Mama was thrilled with the book and took it to the senior center to show everyone. Thank You mama for your nightly conversations, they truly make my night!


Ola (mother),  Catherine (sister-in-law), Mama (Helen) and Edgar T. McKinley (father)       Photo taken Flat Rock in Siloam, Georgia

June 11, 2016: In looking for info on Flat Rock, I discovered a place called Eagle Rock and I asked mama tonight… she said… “I remember Rock Eagle, we went there often when I was in school and I even camped there when I was in 4H. I liked 4H, but the teacher never wanted to listen to me when she taught sewing. I remember the time when I had to make a skirt to model on stage. I modeled it all right, but the teacher wasn’t happy. She made me sew it her way… by the directions – while I tried telling her it wasn’t right, she wouldn’t listen; I modeled and prissed all over that stage and got a lot of attention. She had made me so mad so I fixed that skirt – all wrong. I didn’t learn how to sew with directions and my teacher wanted me to, but I couldn’t follow them – but I knew what to do on my own. That skirt ended… hiked up on one side! Mama took it apart and fixed it after we went home; she didn’t make anything by directions either.”

I told mama about McKinley watching TV today when Penelope jumped up in her way and she yelled out… “Penelope you’re in my way, I can’t see TV.” Later Melissa called and was teasing her as to who she was and McKinley said, “this is your four year old.” Grace’s favorite words are “No” and “yep”, but she’s constantly repeating everything her big sister says. If we stop at a traffic light, she watches the light and yells “Go” as soon as the light turns green – a true “backseat driver.” Mama loves hearing what all the girls are doing and saying and she always asked about them.

June 23, 2016: After watching one of my “new” favorite shows – Barnyard Builders – I asked mama about granddaddy’s barns… “The old barn that was on the farm when he bought it. was just a barn with old barnwood, not logs. But the log cabin that I was born in was a real log cabin, and it’s still standing. We will go back there to see it again when you and Steve come down in October. You can’t see the logs from the outside, but inside you can see them. I used to take mama’s thimbles and sit them between the logs; probably could find lots of them if they ever took it down. My brother and I used to play a game called “hide the thimble.”

I asked mama again about Flat Rock, and …. “One time Willie Mae and I took some boys out there on a wild goose chase to ditch them; they were bothering us so much that we led them out there – and then left them there! They told everyone about the hard time they had in finding their way out, and almost didn’t. When my brother’s wife, Cathy, came down from Wisconsin to visit, we took her out there for a picnic; I have pictures of us on the big rocks. I remember hearing this tale when I was small – it was told that a man came and tied a rope between two trees and walked over Flat Rock on top of the rope. I never saw anything like that, just heard the stories. (I’ve found out that it is now fenced off and closed to the public as it was bought and they quarry the rock. Also told that there are many snakes around the area)

From another note with no date, mama said… “I remember in church that there was an “amen” corner in the  Presbyterian church we went to in Siloam. When I was little, I remember that every time the  preacher preached, the men would all said “amen.”

“I also heard this story when I was young – that when the world comes to an end, we will all be in different places. Whenever I saw a large amount of smoke, I’d get scared if daddy wasn’t home. It made me think that the world was going to come to an end – and  daddy wasn’t home!”

An oldie to add – Dec. 11, 2015: “Daddy’s cousin, Lawson McKinley drove a mobile general store around to all the farms. I loved when he came to our farm as he always gave me candy, and I loved candy; that’s how I got the nickname “candy girl.” Silver Bells (kisses) were always my favorite. It was like a general store on wheels and had so many things hanging inside the back when you looked in. After he stopped driving it, he opened the general store in Siloam. It was nice and warm today, I dressed like it was summer; it was 67 degrees!”

June 26, 2016: I asked Mama what she remembered about the square dancing that she and daddy did, and… “Your father and I did western square dancing, it’s a little different from regular square dancing. I even sewed out outfits, making my dress and skirt to match his shirt. I’d sit up all night sewing sequins all over my dress, and always with a cup of black coffee and a cigarette. We often went with the neighbors across the street, Mary and Fred Lampley; I even made them a couple of matching outfits.”

“I remember that they used to have square dances at my grandparents house in Siloam, just down from our cabin. I’d sit on the stairs and watch; the house would shake so much from all the stomping around, that I thought it would fall off the foundation. They often had Saturday night dances back then; the rooms were big in their house – I remember how they’d shove all the furniture back out of the way to make room for dancing.”

I happened to mention Aunt Lena’s jewelry, and …. “Do you still have the child’s ring with the pink stone that was mine? Aunt Lena gave that to me but mama never let me wear it, she always put things up. I guess because she never had anything when she grew up, so she tried to save things given to us. I could never understand how she’d never let me play with some of my gifts. (yes I still have the ring.)”

June 27, 2016: I called mama to check on her with all the high temperatures in Georgia, and …. “It is still hot as hell down here! I’m sweating up a storm in these 90 plus temps; I can’t remember it ever being this hot. I still remember seeing daddy out in the field on hot days when I was young. On really hot days, he poured water on himself out there to cool off – he didn’t sweat. They had a tough life back then.”

“I just had some Brunswick stew, but didn’t really have an appetite in this weather. I can’t let it go to waste though.”

June 27, 2016: Before I asked mama tonight how hot it was, she said… “I think when it rains I’ll run outside naked! One time at the farm, after I moved back, I ran out to the well house for something – naked! Well about the time I stepped out of the house and opened the well house door, I heard someones car pull in the yard. I jumped inside and closed the door, and stood really still! They knocked on my door for a long time, even walked around the house calling my name – they saw my car in the yard so assumed I was home – somewhere. Finally they left and I ran back inside. I had recognized the woman’s voice, but not knowing her husband, and being naked, I wasn’t going to speak up and tell that I was hiding inside the well house. Later I told her where I was that day and we had a good laugh over it. (I had never heard this story before)”

I mentioned tonight that Stephen was painting, and …. “ One time, when we lived in Perry, I tied a rope to myself and crawled out the attic window to paint that window. I had tied the rope to the rafters in the attic to secure myself. The neighbors walked over to tell me that I was going to fall. I always did everything, even cutting the grass in Perry; I cut my grass here until a few years ago, but I’m thankful my friends husband cuts it for me now – and I take them out to eat. We often go to Holcombs for BBQ after he cuts the grass; I always stock up on Brunswick stew when we go, that’s how I get my vegetables – in the stew.

July 1, 2016: When I called tonight…. “I went down to Holcomb’s today with Johnny and Carolyn – Johnny sure loves that stew. They even bought some to bring home today, and I did too.”

“It’s still hot down here, I think we’re just going to all burn up. We haven’t even gotten any rain, maybe a drop or too, which makes it only worse.”

“I can’t wait till everyone around here gets rid of their fireworks, Boo is tired of hearing them and having to find a place to hide. I never liked fireworks as a kid, but daddy always bought me a Roman candle and some sparklers. He also bought firecrackers, but he shot them off or either Leroy did; he wouldn’t let me shoot those. One time Allen shot some firecrackers off at the farm, just after I had told him to be careful or he’d start a fire. The very next second after telling him that, a fire started. It scared him to death as I was yelling you better put that out or you’re going to burn my house down.”

“I remember going to the square dances on Saturday nights when I lived at the farm. Sometimes I even pretended I wasn’t myself if some guy pestered me, saying instead that I was Helen’s sister. There was one boy that bothered me so much, that I always said it to him. Then he’d see me at the restaurant the next week and I’d tell him I wasn’t at the dance, that was my sister – and I can’t do a thing with her. Then he’d see me again the next week and tell me how he saw my sister again at the dance, but he couldn’t do a thing with her and she didn’t behave. I would just fall over laughing.” (I told mama that I did that a few times too; I had a short-haired platinum wig and whenever I wore it, I’d pretend to be my sister. My girlfriend and I thought it was hysterical when I fooled them)

July 3, 2016: I called mama before I left for our Fourth of July party… “Boo is just scared to death and hiding right now. I’m so tired of hearing all these firecrackers and big booms. I can’t wait till they are all done.”

July 5, 2016: Before I could even ask about the heat tonight…. “Don’t even ask me how hot it is, it’s just Too Dam Hot. I believe God is tired of us all, and this world, and he’s just burning up the earth. I remember it saying in the bible, that before the end of time we will destroy ourselves. I don’t think I’ll even go to the senior center in the morning. It’s just too hot to sleep and by the time I do fall asleep, it’s really late. It’s cooler in the mornings so I’ll just sleep in and stay home. Why go down there, as when I leave it feels hotter. If my big window fan hadn’t broken, it might be cooler in the house; although it would be only blowing hot air.”

July 6, 2016: Usually the first thing I ask is about the heat, and  tonight… “Well it’s not as hot tonite, it’s kind of comfortable. It must have rained somewhere, but not here – we are still dry. Those nuts across the street are still shooting firecrackers…. what’s the matter with people, just spend all your money on firecrackers! Boo is laying here on the bed right now trying to sleep, but if they start up again, he’ll be gone – they upset him.”

“I didn’t go to the center this morning, just didn’t want to. Don’t want to do too much and I definitely don’t want to clean my house. I need to go to the store tomorrow and get some Ensure and donuts to eat with my coffee. I always drink my share of Ensure, but they do say it’s good for the “old folks” – who knows, maybe it helps me. I get my vitamins through them.”

July 9, 2016: Before I could even ask how hot it was in Georgia tonight…. “It’s hot as hell down here! I don’t remember hot days like this when I was growing up. I haven’t gone anywhere in two days, and I’ve not even wore clothes for two days—just too hot to have clothes on; you know how I hate wearing clothes at home! Me and Boo are just dam hot! I still believe it’s close to the end of time. I’m in a foul mood tonight as I’m disgusted with everything, most people, the world and housekeeping.”

“When I go get some ice water after I hang up, I think I’ll give Boo some too with ice cubes; he will probably just look at me, then look at the ice cubes, then…. Who knows what he will do.”

I was telling mama about the corn attachment I saw online, how you hook it up to your drill to cut the kernels off, and … “I remember my mother making the best creamed corn I ever ate. Every time I eat corn, I still think about how good hers was. She canned the cut corn and made cream style corn later on. Mama never put any milk in her creamed corn; she scraped those cobs dry to get all the corn milk out.  She never made a big bowl of it either, just enough for two meals. We always ate it at lunch, then finished the leftovers at supper. Whatever she cooked at lunchtime, we always had the same thing in the evening. My father wasn’t a big eater – eating just one thing at a time on his plate. He never crowded his plate with food.”

“When you and Steve come down, we will check out the property where my grandparents lived – it was just down from our cabin, on the left going toward Slip Rock. I wonder if the tree where the swing was is still there. That is where I always played – a swing hung on that tree. The house originally belonged to Dr. Lewis’s father, Judge Lewis. They also owned the log cabin we lived in; it was on the same property as their new house; daddy sharecropped for him until he bought the farm.”

“After daddy bought the farm, he built a tenant house up on the hill. Aunt Mossie and Uncle Josh and baby Rae were the first to live there; they worked on the farm for daddy. Later, daddy’s brother, Walter and his family lived there until he opened the little store in White Plains and bought the house next to the store.”

I asked mama what she had wanted to be as a kid… when she grew up – and… “I always wanted to be a movie star and model clothes. I’ve always liked to dress up and fix my hair and priss around. I’m still like that, except when it’s real hot like it is now, then I just want to take off all my clothes!”

July 11, 2016: The temperature on my phone for Monroe tonight said 72, but when I told mama, she was… “It feels much hotter than that, I’ve got the fan blowing on me – blowing hot air. I didn’t go to the center this morning, everything just went haywire! I didn’t get any sleep last night – too darn hot, but Boo needed cat food this morning, and I wouldn’t have been able to live with him and I needed my prescriptions filled.”

“It’s a little cooler tonight, but I haven’t seen any rain – I think it’s against the law to rain on my street. Some people will say that it rained at their house in Monroe, but never at mine.”

I asked mama if her father talked much about politics at election times, and … “Oh yes he did and every Saturday at the filling station, all the men talked politics. Daddy was a Roosevelt and Talmadge man – he was a Democrat, true and true. But Democrats were different back then vs today –  they were for the farmer. In today’s world – my father would not vote Democrat.”

“I spent most of my time following my daddy around the farm, and he never seemed to tire of all my questions. Whenever I’d ask him, either for something, or could we go somewhere, his answer always was, “let me think about it.”  I didn’t like to ask mama for things, as she would cry – I never understood why as a child, but now I feel like she felt bad because she couldn’t give me the things I asked for.”

July 14, 2016: Mama called me tonight – her phone had rang about three times and nobody was on the line so she thought I might have been trying to get in touch with her.

“The mama cat I have outside brought another kitten home – I think she steals kittens as lately she brings home one every so often. I’ve never seen her pregnant; I think she can’t have kittens so she just goes and steals one.  This one is pretty, it’s every color.”

“I’m still hot, sweat is just popping off me. Poor Boo is hot too. Remember when he was little, Melissa used to carry him around in her purse – you know she wanted to take him home. Just what she needs now with those two girls.”

July 19, 2016: I don’t know how we got on the topic of drinking, but… “I remember one time I came home from Moss Oaks Lounge… so drunk… and I had drove home. I was OK to drive, but once I laid down, the bed became a bed-spinner. I had to stand up, as I couldn’t put my two feet on the bed at one time. It’s been a really long time since I was drunk, and it was never often that I even drank that much – I didn’t like to be that way. I would like to be able to enjoy a beer now, but with all the pills I take, I can’t drink anymore. I’ll just have to remember those times – and laugh.”

July 22, 2016. As mama answered the phone she said… “It’s Hot, Hot, Hot and Hot, and it’ll never quit until winter! I was watching Trump on TV last night – maybe he will straighten out this country, as it sure needs someone to straighten things out.”

“Mama mentioned that there should be a Bryan family reunion and I said “I’d probably feel out of place as I wouldn’t know many.” She laughed and said, “take me along and I’ll talk to everyone – you can just stand there and take it all in.”

“Most of the seniors are quiet down at the center – no one talks politics, but when Obama was running, they talked all the time about him. Me, I like Trump – but while I don’t think he’s handsome, I do hope he will do something to help this country. This world needs help!”

July 25, 2016: Another HOT day in Georgia… “I went to the center today and boy did everything go wrong… I was so mad down there because one woman came in the clothes closet and threw all clothes on the floor that she wanted to buy, then had no money. But did she offer to pick them up, NO… she just walked out. If they think I’m going to pick them up, they have another thought coming, I’m not. I will not hang them back up, but I will put them in a bag to drop off at FISH before I’ll let her come back for them. She does things like that all the time and gets away with it.”

“Well I finally bought an air conditioner today, don’t know if it’s the right size, but Johnny will look at it and if it’s too small, he’ll take it back for the right one. I’m putting it in the living room where the other one was, so If I get too hot in my room, I’ll just go in there and stay.”

July 28, 2016: When I called mama tonight at 9:30 p.m., she wasn’t answering… well that made me nervous – as where should she be that late, other than home. So for the next half hour I kept trying her phone, and the answering machine would pick up after several rings. Finally on the 4th try, she answered saying… “I knew that was probably you calling as I was talking to my friend Carolyn on the phone and I kept hearing this rumbling noise in the background. (So now I know she can be on the phone and the answering machine will pick up – if only she would check her messages!)

“Carolyn’s husband, Johnny, came over today to put the new air conditioner in I bought. He just looked at the one in the window and turned it on – and as it worked good… he left it on for now. It’s nice and cool in my bedroom now and Boo is laying in the living room just chilling… and mama is finally cool! He said he’ll change the air conditioner later on to the new one, but for now this really old one is working good.” So Life is good… Mama is finally cool!

To be continued…

Like to read more… click on Conversations with Mama and more

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.


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Letters & Papers from the Trunk in the Hall: Letter from 1st. Lt. Norman Mecklum

 Letters & Papers from the Trunk in the Hall:

Letter from 1st. Lt. Norman Mecklem Jr. – April 6, 1945

The “Trunk in the Hall” held the letters and papers my grandparents saved – and they saved everything from cancelled checks, postcards telling of the next VFW meeting and family letters. My mother reminds me, of in those days, people didn’t throw things away like today. My grandmother unraveled burlap sacks and reused the string, the muslin tobacco bags were saved and sewed together for quilt backs, old clothes were ripped apart and re-used; the list could go on and on.When I think back now of how granddaddy’s farm looked, I can see various items laying around. There was always a pile of scrap metal pieces behind the smoke house – I guess that was his work-pile when he needed to repair something. My grandfather, like many others during those years, were very conservative people; mama still calls herself today a frugal person!

 The “Trunk in the Hall” will be an Heirloom post in the future.


Leroy letters and cards_0005 (508x800)

Germany – 6 April 45

Dear Mrs. McKinley,

I received your letter concerning your son Edgar.

There is very little that I can say, or that anyone else would say about his death. He was killed by an enemy rifleman as we were cleaning out a woods, a few miles inside Germany. he died instantly and endured no suffering at all.

I know it is quite a blow to you, losing such a fine boy. I wish there were some way I could soften the shock. Edgar was a very good soldier in every respect, and was doing a fine job at this time. I was very close to him when it happened.

May God Bless you and comfort you in your sorrow.

Sincerely Yours,

Norman Mecklem Jr.

1st. Lt. 2nd Inf.

Co. C. B.


I found it heartwarming how Leroy’s commanding officer took the time to pen a personal note to my grandmother. He wrote that he had received a letter from her – what had she written? I’m sure she had many questions  – did he suffer – was he killed instantly – what were his last last words? Wouldn’t we all want to know… were there last words meant for you to hear… we all have a need for those words.

I found it interesting that Lt. Mecklem referred to him as Edgar as everyone called him Leroy or Lee; it made me wonder how well he really knew him – how big was his unit? But I  believe that Lt. Mecklem was near him when he was killed by enemy fire.

In wanting to put a face to his name I searched for Lt. Mecklem, but came up empty. Sometimes you just need another set of eyes to see what you did wrong. I had searched for him before and found information, but today I was finding nothing. After my mystery researcher searched and sent me sites, I finally saw what I did wrong…. it was a typo in his name. I mistakenly turned his name of Mecklem into Mecklum. But their search turned up a photograph, which mine had not done. Thank You “mystery researcher” – you know who you are!

Lt. Norman J. Mecklem received the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery three days before  Leroy was killed. As noted below, he was injured by armed enemy near the town of Schankueiler, (Schankweiler) Germany. I feel that this pinpoints the area for me as where Leroy was killed and why Lt. Mecklem didn’t want to be evacuated – he knew they were preparing to attack in three days; he wanted to remain with his men.service crossInfo found: http://valor.militarytimes.com

newspaper clip

Photo: San Antonio Light – July 20, 1945: Rank has now changed to Captain Norman J. Mecklem.

clipping of actionsClipping from google book “Second Infantry Regiment, Fifth Infantry Division by United States Army. 2nd Infantry. Pg. 84

This clipping gives me the correct spelling of the town – it is Schankweiler. Lieut. Mecklem’s letter above also mentioned they were cleaning out woods as they advanced into Schankweiler; this seems to pinpoint that he had remained with his unit when Leroy was struck by enemy fire. I feel confident that this was the area where my uncle was killed.

leroy name in book

Further reading in google book on page 117, finds my uncle listed with the 2nd Infantry: McKinley, Edgar L. Pfc. Rt. 3, Greensboro, Ga.

river crossings

Google Book, pg.89: River crossings show the 2nd Infantry crossing the Enz River on Feb. 18th – one day before Leroy was killed. The Enz River is near the town of  Schankweiler. Leroy received the Purple Heart posthumous.

Mecklem receiving medal

Captain Norman Mecklem receiving the Distinguished Service Cross medal in  Eggenfelden, Bavaria.


Like to read more letters….

Letters and Papers from The Trunk in the Hall

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

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Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #32

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #32

I call my mother almost nightly to chat, hear how her day went, and as always, enjoy her stories. Several years back, I began scribbling on paper those nightly musings to me. Later I started a journal on my computer and began Conversations with Mama, and just recently began compiling them here on my blog. On my last visit to mom, I gifted her a book of all I had so far – she had never seen them. Mama was thrilled with the book and took it to the senior center to show everyone. Thank You mama for your nightly conversations, they truly make my night!


Mama as a baby with brother LeeRoy. I love that Granddaddy’s Model T photo-bombed the photo!

May 12, 2016: I called Mama late tonight, about 10 p.m., she answered the phone with… “wait a minute I gotta get my bowl of Brunswick stew.” She was eating supper late or maybe it was a second meal. “And after I eat this, I’ll have a cup of coffee and a piece of that cake you sent. I worked out in the yard till dark… till it was good and dark and I’m hungry.”

“I  live what’s called “the life of Riley” – that’s the way you live the rest of your life. Just live, you don’t have to do any housework or even cook if you don’t want to! Don’t worry, I’ll wash the dishes when I’m ready.”

“My hydrangeas are blooming like crazy now. You need to take some cuttings home with you. Maybe I’ll just root some for you – I just stick them in the ground near the house, where it stays moist, and they root. Last time you were here, I was digging up some for you but Steve said you didn’t need them. LOL” (He didn’t want to plant!)

“They pissed me off today at the senior center. The local florist had donated their extra cut flowers for our lunch tables this past week. When I was leaving I said to one of the women if they cared if I took the cut flowers and used them for mulch in my garden as they will be all dead by Monday morning. She was like, “oh they’re still good.” “I guess she wanted to take them home herself for her garden, oh well.”

I asked mama if she ever asked daddy about when he was in the Navy at Bikini Atoll during the atomic blast… “I never asked and I guess he wasn’t interested in talking about it. The only thing he ever talked about was when him and some of the other guys jumped in the water after the blasts. Later he began losing his front teeth from the radioactive water.”

“It is so hot here and the pollen is terrible this year; my eyes are swollen tonight and I’m laying here with a cold cloth over them. I’m tough! I’ll be alright. I didn’t even stay out in the yard long today, too hot to work in the garden. It’s just too hot for clothes tonight; I remember sleeping naked when I was a young girl when it was really hot in the summer.”

I was having a drink tonight when I called mama… “I wish I could have a drink but they won’t mix with all the pills I take. My daddy didn’t really drink except when we were out or company came. If we went down to granddaddy’s, all the men would go out behind the barn and drink moonshine. They didn’t get drunk, just feeling silly. I don’t know of any of them who made it, must have bought it somewhere. If me or my brother had ever come home drunk, we surely would have gotten a beating. One time I remember daddy had drank too much and not acting like daddy. I would not get in the car with him and mama to go home. He could have beat me and I wouldn’t have gotten in the car. Finally Uncle Walter said that he would bring me home later. There was no way I was going to crawl in that car – he scared me – I had never seen him like that before.”

“I finally figured out how to work this remote and find my TV programs I like, Walton Mountain, Walker-Texas Ranger and Law and Order. They should have never changed our cable system here, made it hard for the senior citizens, but they don’t care.”

I mentioned we were going to the flea market this weekend, and …“My hobby is clothes. I guess because I like to redo and change things up with them. I need to clean out that back room and give a lot of them away, but I just don’t want to go back there and work.”

“Boo is mad at me tonight and left the bed as I was disturbing him by moving my feet so much where he was sleeping. Now he’s sulking in the back room, hiding somewhere. He will be back later when he gets out of his mood.”

“My roses are really blooming now – they are so pretty. I have pink and red all over the yard; Steve cut me off a piece of a light pink when we were up in Juliette, Ga. last October; I hope it roots. I don’t have a yellow or white and I’d like to find them somewhere to take a cutting of; I don’t want to buy them. I wish I still had a piece of the white rose my mother had in the yard. The day of Monica’s funeral (my sister)  the most beautiful white rose opened up – I cut it and put in her casket that morning.” (Monica was born with spina-bifada and only lived six months)

In an upcoming blog post, I asked mama this question… Did you have rules in growing up? …and she said “They had no rules that I know of, and if they had, I would have probably broke them. The only rule I can remember is when you came to the table… daddy wouldn’t tolerate anyone complaining about the food. You either ate what was on the table or you went without eating. If you dared to complain, you were sent from the table and the kitchen was closed to you later. There were times I left the table, but mama always sneaked me food later on. There were no rules for bedtime that I remember, I always went to bed when I wanted to. They didn’t seem to care, but I had to get up at certain times, so I suffered if I went to bed late.”

“I’m happy just like I am”

May 15, 2016: No sooner than mama said hello as she began telling me… “My eyes are really bothering me tonight from all the pollen and my allergies.” I told mama about the twins when they say the bike we took over there. They both started yelling, mine, mine! Ella was riding her bike really good, she finally got the hang of it. Steve hung birdfeeders around for the kids to watch – they get lots of birds around there, Yellow Chickadee’s, Hummingbirds, Blue Robins and Red Cardinals. I told mama how Ana loved the pocketbook and how she takes it to bed with her; she has it filled with lots of trinkets. She had picked the little leather bag from Tennessee. Ella picked the denim wallet with the angel pins and Nina took the wooden Tikki cup with the necklace. I had wrapped them in tissue paper for them to choose one. As mama listened to me telling her about them, she said… “I guess I’ll never get to see them.”

“I remember in growing up, it took me and my girlfriend, Willie Mae, forever to get dressed; then when we got dressed, we didn’t like it and off it came – then we started all over again and did the same thing until we liked what we had on. One night when we came home late from a dance we outran the law! I lost him over by Syrup Mill Crossing after running through the Veasey area. He didn’t know the area as good as I did. Finally Willie Mae and I got down to the farm and turned the lights out and just sat in the car waiting to see if he’d come down to the farm, but I think he got lost over at Syrup Mill and didn’t know which way we went. Willie and I laughed so hard over that – we had some good times.” 

May 19, 2016: Mama yelled hello when she answered the phone tonight and I was like “why are you yelling?”and …. “I was trying to get the laundry out of the dryer and Boo is under my feet meowing because he wants a different food other than what I gave him. He just won’t stop when he wants – what he wants! At least my allergies are finally a little better tonight, they have been terrible this year.”

I began telling mama about the twins and how they are learning to say grace before dinner. Ella said the prayer and they sat there with their hands together and then said “amen”. “That’s so sweet, they need to learn to pray and go to church when they are small. Once they grow up, then they can make up their own mind at what they want to do; my daddy took me to church when I was small. He didn’t really like to go to church as he said the same people who went to church on Sunday would do bad on Monday. I would sure love to see them.”

May 23, 2016: “I went to the center this morning, then I came home and worked all afternoon and into the dark. I wanted to clean out the area under my bedroom window in the backyard – it’s a mess! I think I’ll buy me a couple of tomatoes and some squash plants. Right now, I am full of dirt! I’m brushing my hair now to get all the dirt out – I need someone to brush my hair.” I told her I’ll send McKinley right down!… “Yea, she would probably hit me in the head with the hairbrush like you did to granddaddy. That was the last time he let you brush his hair!”

“One of my Hydrangeas in the backyard is turning white and another one turning purple. They are all in full bloom around my yard. There is a lot of iron in my soil and that’s why they are so pretty blue, so I don’t understand why the other two are changing colors. I never had a white one before or purple, they’ve always been blue – really strange.”

“Someone put out a little black kitten in my yard yesterday – he meowed all night. The girl across the street came over this afternoon and finally caught him. I really wanted him – you know I love black cats. She loves animals and took him home, but I really did want to keep him. I don’t think my Boo would have liked that!”

May 25, 2016: “Boy did Boo let me know last nite that I had forgotten to buy his special food yesterday. Good thing he was content with some of the food I have for the outside cats. I did buy his food today and he is now a happy cat!”

May 29, 2016: I called mama today as we headed home from being “in the road” as she always says, and… “So what are you doing today, I bet Steve bought more cast iron pans. I guess if he’s cremated he can be put in one of his cast iron pans. “I laughed and said, yea we will give our ashes to you to hold….”Oh No, I don’t want no ashes in my house – no way. I could never have anyone’s ashes in my house. You can take mine and put them under a white rose bush.”

I told mama that someone messaged me, telling me that they found a handwritten recipe of my grandmother, Evelyn Bryan, for cucumber pickles in their grandmothers recipe box. Her grandmother lived next door to my grandparents for several years on Binns St. Mama said… “If I had wanted a pickle back then, I would have gotten one of my mama’s pickles– she made the best ones. I really didn’t have much to do with my mother-in-law, she wasn’t very nice to me; I loved my father-in-law though, he was a sweet man.” (I asked several of my Bryan cousins and No One remembers her making any pickles – that’s funny!)

June 1, 2016: No sooner I said hello tonight, mama said….”It’s thundering and lightening down the road. I have the window open, but I pulled the curtains closed as I don’t want to see it. I don’t know where Boo is – he usually hides when it’s lightening. You’re not suppose to have your animals near you when it’s lightening – they always told me that the animals attract the lightening; you know how their hair looks when its brushed – it gets all full of static electricity.”

“I’ve been experimenting to try and turn my blue hydrangeas different colors. Maybe the new white one I have this year was because of that white concrete/sand mixture I crumbled up near it. I broke it all up and sprinkled it all around the base. I have been putting different things around their bases in trying to get new colors – something to do.”

June 4, 2016: I said hello and mama said… “It is “hot as blue blazing” down here. Poor Boo is so hot that he doesn’t know what to do. I laid a wet towel on the kitchen floor for him to lay on, but he doesn’t understand that it would cool him off.”

Mama always asks nightly about all the girls, I told her we had just went out for lunch with Stephen, Rose and the girls and Melissa; the other two girls were in preschool. As we were leaving, there were two women who commented to Melissa how well behaved all the girls had been. Ella told them “thank you and  have a nice day”… they were like “she’s so polite and has the longest hair. The twins were really good at the table. Mama said...”Rose has raised them to be polite, that’s good. I hope I get to see them one day.”

I mentioned to mama about a person on my Facebook Greene County page mentioning some of the girl names I’ve heard from her, one was June Boswell. “I used to read all of June Boswell’s Nancy Drew books – she’d loan them to me after she read them. I read the entire line of those books, you read them too when you were young. June lived in town, across from the filling station; her parents had a little more money than mine. There was a crab apple tree in her yard and we’d stand there and eat ourselves silly with them. Later her parents moved to Greensboro – her father did something in the oil business.”

“We sure do need rain here, it’s so hot; it rains all around us, but never on us!”

“When you come down in the fall you can dig up some hydrangeas to take home, but don’t expect them to be the same color up there – it will depend on your soil. Years ago, a really long time ago, this land here used to be the dump; no telling what you’d find if you dug down, might even find a money box. I can tell my house has sunk, just from the years I’ve lived here. There was once a well here too, but way before I came here or even when Allen bought it. The well was where that ditch is between my house and Mr. Knights. If you throw something in the ditch, it eventually disappears – I’ve done it and later could never find it anymore. Mrs. Cooper, who lived across the street is who told me all these things.”

“Did you know that way back at the end of my property, between me and Mr. Knights, he buried a school bus to use as a tornado shelter. He nailed the windows shut and built an outside door and cement steps leading down to it. I’ve looked down the steps but never went down inside. Allen went down in there once – it’s actually more on my property than Mr. Knights. The kids liked to sneak down in there and I used to have to run them off. Later someone locked it up and it’s pretty much all grown over now; I’ll show you where it is if you want to go in there, probably loaded now with snakes.”

“My grandfather even had a tornado shelter at their house in White Plains. I don’t know if they built it. or it was already built when they moved there. Grandmama used to keep her potted flowers on the steps there in the winter. It was dug in the ground and had two wooden doors that you opened to walk down the stairs. I looked in there and saw her flowers sitting there, but never went down. If they dug it, the boys would have dug it, my grandfather never did work, he liked to sit on the porch and watch the boys work.”

“I never understood why my grandparents didn’t use any of the rooms on the second floor – and I could never understand why? They wouldn’t let you go up there and if you tried to sneak up, they’d get all over you about it. I couldn’t understand why they were so determined to not let anyone up there – I was curious – I wanted to see! They had several kids still living there, as my grandfather had two families, and they all crammed in the rooms downstairs. That just never made sense to me – they had all that room up there. Later they moved to White Plains after he gave up farming. A black couple moved in their old house and one day after I was older and grown, I stopped by their old house and they allowed me to go inside. I was hoping to get my look of the upstairs, but when I asked to go up there they told me “oh no, no one goes up there.” I guess they thought it was haunted – or maybe it had always been. I still wish today that I had managed somehow to sneak up there as a kid, but I always got caught.”

“The big house my grandparents first lived in outside of Siloam once belonged to Dr. Lewis’s family – it was the first Lewis home before building the newer one that we lived next door to; we lived in the cabin next to them. My father rented and farmed his land in return for living there. He must have managed to save as he eventually bought his farm when I was 10 years old.”

To be continued…

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© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved.

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Connecticut War Memorials: Riverview Cemetery, Shelton CT

Connecticut War Memorials

Riverview Cemetery, Shelton, CT.

The Riverview Cemetery is located on RT. 10 in Shelton, CT.

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The Riverview Cemetery  honors six soldiers who died in the World Wars and buried overseas.

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Korean Campaign: Ernest W. Ledger, Jr. Corporal Co. A, 23d Inf. Died Mar. 31, 1951. Age 19. Buried in Korea:

World War: John Dudginsky Co. A,26th Inf. Died Oct. 4, 1918 AE 28 – Buried in France

World War: Peter Gibbons Co. G. 28th Inf. Died Oct. 1, 1918 AE 24 – Buried in France

World War: Frank Lowensky Co. E, 38th Inf. Died Aug. 9, 1918 AE 28 – Buried in France

World War: Raymond B. Scranton Co. B, 39th ENGRS Died Nov. 8, 1918 AE 28 – Buried in France

World War: Chester A. Burke 5th Regt. Marine Corps Died June 9, 1918 AE 21 – Buried in France


© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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Connecticut – War Memorials

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