Thursday, November 12, 2015


I spent a portion of my childhood in Independence.  We moved there when I was 4 years old.  I have many fond memories of this small town and still love to visit.  It is located in the Owens Valley -- in the high desert between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Inyo/White Mountains.  In this blog I'm going on a little historical tour of the town.  

Independence is the Inyo County Seat.  The real focal point of downtown Independence is the Inyo County Courthouse.  It is actually the fourth Inyo County Courthouse.  Independence has been the county seat since 1866 but this neo-classical building wasn't built until 1922.  In 1998, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Three previous court houses were built in 1866, 1872, and 1886.  One was leveled by an earthquake, one was destroyed by fire, and the third one was outgrown.  When I was a child, my friends and I used to love to sneak into the courthouse and go all the way upstairs without being caught.  (photo 2014)

The Winnedumah Hotel was built in 1927 and was visited by movie stars and other celebrities in its heyday.  It was owned by the family of one of my classmates when I was a child.  It is still operating as a bed and breakfast.  In fact, I stayed there on a recent visit to Independence.  (photo 2009)

During the Civil War, an Army camp called Camp Independence was located a bit north of the present town.  This is a picture of The Commander's House which was moved into town in 1880.  When I was a child, the family of one of my classmates lived in this house.  It is no longer occupied but is being preserved for its history.  (photo 2009)

The Masonic Temple is the meeting place for the local Masons Lodge.  It was built in the 1920's .The Masons retain the upstairs in the building but rent the downstairs out to Jenny's Cafe.  One of the places I lived in Independence was a house across the side street from the Masonic Temple.  (photo 2015)

The American Legion Hall was built in the 1920's.  It has been a "community center" for almost 100 years.  Many events continue to be held here.  The bar inside the building was once part of an old saloon in Goldfield, Nevada.  I once lived in a house right across the alley from the back of the hall.  (photo 2001)

Mary Austin House.  Mary Austin was a prolific writer, poet, and playwright.  She lived in this house when she wrote her most well known book, "The Land of Little Rain."  The house is a Historical California Landmark and is still a private residence.  (photo 2001)

The Edwards House is one of the oldest homes still standing in Inyo County.  I was built in 1863 by Thomas Edwards who was the founder of the town of Independence.  When I was a child, one of my classmates lived here with her grandmother who was a great seamstress and made us matching Easter dresses one year.  (photo 2001)

The Post Office has been in several locations over the years.  Its present location was once a Waterson's Inyo Bank branch.  After that, it was a saloon for a time.  By the time my family moved to Independence, it was King's Drug Store.  Next, it became Austin's Drug Store.  We all loved the soda fountain!  When Austin's closed, the Post Office moved in and has been there for many years.  (photo 2014)

Pioneer Memorial Methodist Church is the oldest existing congregation in Inyo County.  It was founded in 1871.  The original building has had several expansions over the years.  I attended church here when we lived in Independence.  I loved to get to church first so I could help the sexton ring the bell.  My kindergarten class met in the church hall because the school's kindergarten class room was still under construction.  I also took piano lessons from the pastor's wife.  (photo 2009)

This building has become known as the Pines Cafe Building.  It is one of the oldest business building still standing in Independence.  It was still open when this picture was taken.  My memories of this building begin in the 1940's when my parents owned a hardware/sporting goods store in the corner half of the building.  At this time, the Pines Cafe was in the other half.  When we first moved to Independence, we lived in the upstairs and the back room of our store for about six months -- so this was also my first home in Independence.  When we moved our store across the street, the Post Office moved into the corner half.  When the Post Office moved out, the Pines Cafe expanded and took over the whole building.  The Pines Cafe closed in 2004 and now the building, sadly, is all boarded up.  (photo 2001, side view)
Here is a front view of the Pines Cafe after it closed.  (photo 2009)

When we moved to Independence in the 1940's, Mairs' Market occupied the left half of this building.  There was a variety store in the other half.  After about two years, my parents bought the variety store and moved our hardware/sporting goods store into it -- Hillier Hardware became and hardware/sporting goods/variety store.  My father did gun smithing on the side.  His most famous customer was John Wayne.  He was filming a movie in Lone Pine but was hunting in his free time.  His gun broke and someone sent him to my father to get it fixed.  When we moved from Independence, Omie and Glorian Mairs bought our store, took down the wall, and had one big store that sold just about everything.  Mairs Market continued in the this building until a few years ago.  It closed but recently the Owens Valley Growers Co-Op has moved in.  (photo 2009)

I have many more pictures and many more memories of Independence but I think I'll stop for now.  I hope you've enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Blog About My Daddy For Father's Day

This is me with my Daddy and Mother.
My father, Hartwell Russell George Hillier (better known as Rus) was born on 16 February 1906 in Fallbook, San Diego Co., California.  I've already written a blog about all the places he lived as a child.  As an adult, he lived in Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, and Long Beach in Los Angeles Co., California.  He also lived in Fallbrook, San Diego Co., California and Independence, Inyo Co., California and Seal Beach, Orange Co., California and in Westerville, Franklin Co., Ohio and in Toccoa, Stephens Co., Georgia.

When I was born, during WWII, my Daddy was working at Douglas Aircraft Co. in Long Beach.  He was Personnel Manager for the Engineering Department.  In spite of being too old for the draft and having a defense job, he wanted to do his part, so he joined the Coast Guard Reserves and patrolled off of the coast one night a week for a year.

My Daddy loved to fish and hunt.  He especially liked to do these things in the Owens Valley, Eastern Sierra area.  I was only four years old (so heard this story from my parents) when he came home from one of his trips and announced that we were moving to Independence.  My mother asked, "Missouri?"  She had never been to Independence, California!  There was a hardware/sporting goods store for sale in Independence.  His plan was to buy the store and live where he could fish and hunt right in his own neighborhood.  So off we went! 
This is my dad on one of his hunting trips.

I loved living in Independence as a child!  However, eventually, my parents realized that they just couldn't make a living there so we moved back to the city.  My father, once again, took up his career as a mechanical engineer.  He even invented some things that were patented by companies that he worked for in the aerospace industry.  

Besides his engineering career and his love of fishing and hunting, he also loved to build things (especially woodworking), was a gunsmith, and a great cook.  He built a garage on one of our houses, built a boat for fishing, and there wasn't anything he couldn't fix.  

I learned many things from my Dad...
-- He taught me to fish.  I caught my first fish at about age 7.
-- He taught me how to paint and wallpaper a room.  Something that has served me in good stead over the years.
-- He taught me how to properly set a table.  He was a real stickler for this!
-- I sort of inherited his love of fixing things.
-- And much more!
My dad and I on his 95th birthday.

For his 100th birthday, Daddy took a sky dive!  He died just a few weeks before his 101st birthday, while staying with my brother in Toccoa, Georgia, on 7 January 2007.  He is buried in a family plot in Fallbrook, California.  
PS -- One thing I forgot to say about my dad...  He was a great story teller!  I wouldn't know nearly so much about my extended family if it weren't for his stories.

Monday, April 27, 2015


In the Summer of 1990, I took a trip to Missouri and Kansas in search of my Russell ancestors and relatives.  I stayed with Rosie Russell Gaul and her husband Harold in St. Joseph, Missouri.  Rosie is a distant cousin, now deceased, who had a great interest in family history.  Rosie and Harold took me all over Buchanan Co., Missouri, and Miami Co., Kansas, to meet family members, both dead and alive.

Before I visited, Rosie had remembered that her mother told her about an old Russell family cemetery.  It was on the property of John C. Russell, a brother of my second great grandfather, Joseph Tipton Russell, near Faucett, Missouri.  This property passed out of the Russell family many years before.  Rosie figured out where it was and went to talked to the home owner.  She asked if they knew anything about an old cemetery that used to be on that property.  Yes, they know all about it!

They told her that one of the previous owners had wanted to plant a lawn where the cemetery was located.  So they removed the grave stones and threw them over the line fence into the neighbor's woods.  They showed her where.  After getting permission from the neighbor, she and Harold climbed over the line fence and found the stones.  A couple of them were in tact but most were broken and, undoubtedly, some were missing.  So sad.

When I visited in 1990, they got permission from both property owners and took me there.  This was really exciting for me since one of those stones was that of my second great grandfather, Joseph Tipton Russell.  I climbed over the line fence -- which was covered with poison ivy -- and had a great time looking at and taking pictures of the stones.  Rosie and Harold had propped some of them up and pieced some of them together on the ground on their previous visit.  Below are some pictures of how they looked.         (Read on after you look at these pictures.)

My second great grandfather, Joseph Tipton Russell's stone before restoration.

The next day, we went to the Pattee House Museum in St. Joseph.  This museum is amazing.  It has a collection of everything, from light bulbs to pottery to cameras to...  you name it!  As we were leaving, a man was coming toward us down the hall.  Rosie said, "That's the curator of the museum." I said, "I wonder if he would like some tombstones for his collection?"  She knew just what I had in mind!  We
stopped and talked to him and told him the story.  Yes!  He wanted them!

After I went home, Rosie got permission from both property owners and met the museum crew there one day.  They took all the stones back to the museum and had them restored.  They did an incredible job!  In 1991, the stones were installed on the lawn of the museum for all to see!  Here's what they look like now.

My second great grandfather, Joseph Tipton Russell's stone is upper right in picture.

Pattee House Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri

Thursday, April 2, 2015


When I was young, the "Easter Bunny" filled our baskets with goodies and we found them waiting for us when we got up on Easter morning.  The baskets were saved from year to year.  We put them out before bed on Easter Eve and found them full in the morning.

Also, when I was young, we often had an Easter Egg Hunt the day before Easter.  My dad would hide eggs and candy in the yard.  All the kids in the neighborhood were usually invited to participate.  Below is a picture of one such group of egg hunters, taken in Independence, CA in about 1949 or 1950.

Another tradition was to get a new Easter outfit every year.  (Sometimes it was the only new outfit I got all year!)  We would get all dressed up and go to church.  Then come home for Easter dinner.  In my family, we always had leg of lamb for dinner.  Below are pictures of my new Easter outfit in Independence, California in 1948.  Vicky Underhill's grandmother made us matching Easter dresses that year.

Top picture is me, bottom picture is me on left with Vicky Underhill.

When I had children of my own, we continued these traditions -- but I added one more.  At our house, the Easter Bunny hid the baskets and left a trail of clues to find them!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Father -- Schools!

It is amazing to me that my father, Hartwell Russell George Hillier, turned out to be a fairly stable person.  He lived with seven different families and changed schools twenty times.  One day I asked him to write down all the schools he'd attended.  I just came across that list.  Some things are abbreviated so I'll apologized in advance for any errors in interpretation.  I will also apologize for my dad if his memory wasn't perfect.  He was about 80 years old when he wrote this down for me.  All locations are in California.

His parents separated when he was about 4 years old so, at age 5, he was living with his paternal grandmother, his father, and two bachelor uncles in Pomona.  He attended kindergarten at 5th Street School.  He was still living there when he started first grade at Kaufman School.  

He did the second half of first grade at a private school.  He couldn't remember the name but it was located in South Pasadena where he was living with his dad and his Aunt Mabel and Uncle Charlie.

He was living with two different foster families during the week in second grade.  He couldn't remember what school he attended while with the first family.  The second family home schooled him.  Then he was with a third family (yes, all in one year!) who sent him to Claremont Grammar School.

Then he lived with his dad again in third grade and attended Walnut Street School in Pasadena.  Before third grade was over, he went to live with his mother and attended McKinley School in Pomona.

He lived with his mother most of the time after this.  However, he spent most of his summers with his maternal grandparents in Fallbrook and even did a little bit of one school year there.

In fourth grade they were living in Pomona and he attended Lincoln School for part of the year.  Then they moved to Claremont and he went to Claremont Grammar School.

In fifth grade, he was back at Lincoln School in Pomona until they moved to Stockton, where he spent the rest of the year at Fair Oak School.

Then they moved back to Pomona where he spent the 6th through 9th grades at Central School and Gary Junior High School

In the tenth grade they moved to Anahiem where he attended Anahiem High School for half of the year.  Then they moved back to Stockton where he attended Stockton High School for a year and a half.  

During what would have been his senior year, they were migrating so he did not attend school.  At age nineteen, he returned to Stockton High School and graduated at age 20.  Whew!

The family continued to live in Stockton and he went off to Modesto Junior College for two years.  Then he took a year off and worked at P.G.and E. in Stockton to help support his family.

He went to UC Berkeley for one year -- his junior year of college at age 23.  He didn't ever get to finish.  He had to quit to help support the family again -- working again at P.G. and E.  (His step-father didn't seem to be able to hold a job for long.)

Then the family moved to Santa Monica and he began his career as a mechanical engineer -- which was his major before he had to quit school.

Note:  I've fallen behind again -- not getting one of these published every week.  I may have to give up on that if I can't get caught up.

Friday, February 20, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks -- Week 7 -- Hannah Caswell, A Brick Wall and a Mayflower Descendant

My ancestor, Hannah Caswell, was one of my brick walls for a long time.  She was married to my ancestor, William Slack.  I knew his ancestry but, for years, I didn't know hers.  I did all the logical and appropriate searches and came up with nothing.

Someone had said the her father was Jonathan Caswell but the only reason I could see was that she had a son named Jonathan Caswell Slack.  This was a bit of a clue but certainly not proof.  So...  I eventually did my search the wrong way.  I started with the immigrant ancestor, Thomas Caswell of Taunton, Massachusetts, whose genealogy was published in the Mayflower Descendant.  I searched down all of the branches of his family and found several Jonathans who were the right generation to have been Hannah's father.  I easily eliminated all but one of them.  I found that the remaining Jonathan was a son of Joseph Caswell and Lydia Harding who lived in Middlesex Co., Connecticut.  Once I got there, I found Hannah and her family and proceeded to prove the line all the way back to Thomas.

Jonathan Caswell married Margery Markham.  Hannah was their daughter.  She was baptized in East Hampton, Middlesex, Connecticut on 2 July 1786.  Jonathan and Margery and much of Jonathan's family, including Joseph Caswell and Lydia, moved to Otsego Co., New York.  That is where Hannah married William Slack on 30 April 1807.  William was from Northampton, Massachusetts.  He was a land owner in Springfield, Otsego Co. and that is where they lived.  They had four children, including my ancestor Philinda Slack who was born 3 January 1809.  Their other children were Jonathan Caswell Slack, Levi Slack, and Lewin Slack.  Levi and Lewin died in 1812 and I believe Hannah died then also -- but I have not found her grave.  (Which means she is a bit of a brick wall -- still!)  William took his two living children and went back to Massachusetts to his family.  There he was remarried in 1813.

Hannah is not only a descendant of Thomas Caswell but, through her mother, Margery Markham, she descends from the Mayflower three times -- making me a descendant of William Brewster, John Howland, and John Tilley.  I thought I didn't have any Mayflower lines and then I got three in one!

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Great Grandfather, Samuel Sandys Hillier

This is how it looked in 1994.
Samuel Sandys Hillier was born at Cowage Farm, Bremilham, Malmsbury Wiltshire, England on 22 December 1850.  He was a son of William Hillier and Elizabeth Pike.  In 1861, he appears on the census twice...
In the household of his father at Royal Oak, Bremilham, Malmsbury, as a son age 11.
In the household of Joseph Whale in Corston St., St. Paul, Malmsbury, as a visitor age 11.  He may have been going to school at this second place.

On 23 July 1872, he married Mary Ann "Molly" Newth, a daughter of William Pride Newth and Elizabeth "Betsy" Adkins.  They were married Malmsbury, Wiltshire.  Right after their marriage, they emigrated to the USA and settled in Hastings, Adams Co., Nebraska.  Then, after a trip to England in 1877-1878, they returned and settled in Kansas.  The reason for the trip to England in 1877 was his father's death.  They were first in Gettysburgh and Nicodemus, Graham Co. and then in Lenora, Norton Co., Kansas.  They moved to Pomona, Los Angeles Co., California in about 1886.

Samuel was a butcher most of his life but took up the sale of real estate in Pomona in about 1890.  In studying the Hillier family in England, I found that there were other butchers.  It may have been a family trade passed down.  He became a citizen of the United States in 1888.

Samuel and Mary Ann had thirteen children, nine of whom survived to adulthood.  They were Elizabeth Sarah Grace, William Sandys (died young), George John Ernest, Ruth (died young), Mabel Mary, Allen (died young), Charles Arthur "Charlie", John (died young), Ernest Stephen (my grandfather), Herbert Henry, Ray, Mary Edith, Nelly Ruth (died young).  Sometime before 1904, they were divorced while several of the children were still at home.  Samuel married Alice Erskine in Yuma, Arizona in 1904 and they had one child, Stuart Samuel, together in 1907.  By 1914, they were separated and she was married to someone else.  Mary Ann Newth never remarried.

My father lived with his grandmother Mary Ann Newth Hillier for a while as a child.  He had many stories to tell about the two bachelor uncles, Herbert and Ray, who were still at home at this time.  One story was about the Halloween when one of them (with the help of some friends) turned the outhouse over on its side -- the door side -- while the other one was in there and then ran off.  Daddy said his grandmother sent him to the bar to get them to come home and release him.

Samuel died on the 24 of January 1912 in Pomona.  My father, who was 6 years old at the time, remembered being fascinated by a little mouse that was running in and out, under his coffin.  Samuel is buried in Pomona Cemetery.  When Mary Ann died in 1919, she was buried next him.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Lewis Chilson was a brother of my fourth great grandfather, Joseph Chilson, Jr.  I want to talk about him because he had a more "colorful" life than the average Chilson.  He was born about 1798 in Westhampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts, the youngest son of Joseph Chilson, Sr. and Mary "Molly" French.  He married Dorcas Damon, a daughter of Nathan Damon and Olive Witherell, on 27 October 1820 in Westhampton.

Lewis and Dorcas had three children that I know of -- Orpha, Fordyce, and Rodney.  Rodney disappears from records and I suspect he died young.  Orpha and Fordyce managed to cause quite a bit of grief for their parents.

In 1850, I was unable to find Fordyce on the US Census in Westhampton.  After broadening the search, I found him in Charlestown, Middlesex Co. in the State Prison.  He was there because he was convicted of Larceny.  He had a wife and some children who were left behind to be cared for by relatives in Westhampton.  By 1860, he was home.  He and his family were living with Lewis and Dorcas.

As if this weren't enough, their daughter Orpha had a child Orinthia Weller Chilson out of wedlock.  I did a thorough search of records and found that the father of this child was Roland Weller, who was married to someone else at the time of this child's birth.  Orpha, eventually, got married to John Gray Russell.  However, Orinthia was raised by her grandparents and is found in their household in 1850 and 1860.

The Chilsons and other families who lived in the northern part a Westhampton, near the Chesterfield line, including Lewis Chilson, seemed to have decided to join the Chesterfield Baptist Society.  In New England, if you were not going to to attend and support the local Congregational (Puritan) Church, you had to submit a certificate proving that you were a member of and supporting another church.  I found quite a number of these in the Westhampton records, including one submitted by Lewis Chilson in 1824.  However, the Westhampton Congregational Church ignored it in his case.  To summarize the church minutes...  Several times in 1824, a complaint was brought against Lewis Chilson for "neglecting the preaching of the word and the Lord's table" for two years.  Various people were assigned to go out and talk to him.  All of them reported back that he was not planning to return to the Congregational Church.  Eventually, in 1825, they decided to excommunicate Lewis Chilson.  There were several public readings of this decision.  It is interesting to note that, Lewis Chilson had been a member of the Chesterfield Baptist Society for some time and had submitted the proper document about a year before the Congregational Church excommunicated him.  It seems a bit like persecution to me!  Especially since I couldn't find any other members of the Chesterfield Baptist Society who received this treatment.

In addition to all of this, poor Lewis had financial problems.  He was in court a number of times and his property was attached to help pay his debts several times.  Nevertheless, he remained right there in Westhampton is whole life even though his brothers all moved on.  He died on 24 August 1860 and is buried in the Westhampton Cemetery.  His wife died eleven years later and is buried next to him.

My Grandfather, Jenneke "John" Vos

Back row L to R Standing
Julia, Winnie, Pete
Front row L to R
Grandma Winifred, Mother Elsie on lap, Theresa,
Grandpa John, and Louie
My blogs, so far, have been about my father's family.  Today I am writing about my maternal grandfather who was an immigrant from The Netherlands.

My grandfather, Jenneke "John" Vos was born in Scharnegoutum, Friesland, Netherlands on 24 October 1879.  He lived to be 90 years old and died on Christmas Day in 1969.  He married Wiepkje "Winifred" Piers de Jong on 7 May 1904 in Sneek, Friesland, Netherlands.  She was the daughter of Pier Jans de Jong and Tjitske Jentjes Leenstra and was born in Hommerts, Friesland, Netherlands on 10 March 1882.

The first two children of this family were born in The Netherlands:  Jeltje "Julia" was born in Scharnegoutum in 1905; Pier "Pete" was born in Sneek in 1906.  In 1907, while my grandmother was expecting her next child, they came to the United States.  They departed from Rotterdam aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam and arrived at the Port of New York on 18 November 1907.

They first settled in Paterson, Passaic Co., New Jersey.  Some members of the Vos family preceded them to America and had a house there.  As other family members arrived, they all lived together in that house.  My grandfather's parents, Lolle Jenneke Vos and his wife Jeltje Jellema and all but one of their children came here.  John and Winifred, as they were called in the USA, had their third child, my aunt Winifred "Wiepjke" on 14 February 1908 in Paterson, New Jersey.  Also in Paterson, they had a son Louis "Lolle" in 1909.  He died there in 1910.

89 Akron St., Rochester, NY as it looked in 1992
In about 1910, the family moved to Rochester, Monroe Co., New York, and settled in a Dutch community there.  At this point, the various family units had their own homes.  My grandparents' home was at 89 Akron St.  Four additional children were born to them in Rochester:  Theresa "Tjitske" in 1911, Louis "Lolle" in 1914, Elsie "Uilkje" (my mother) in 1917, and Rudy "Ruurd" in 1918.  My aunt Winnie told me this story about my mother's birth.  She was born on April 1.  The older children were told to take the younger children to the park and to stay there until someone came to get them.  After a long time, someone finally came and told them they had a new baby sister.  They thought it was an April Fool's joke!  My mother got plenty of teasing in her life because of being born on that day.  

In 1921, the family made another move.  This time, all the way to Santa Monica, California -- on the train.  In Santa Monica, their last child was born -- William "Wiebe" in 1923.  My grandfather and his brothers were carpenters and built a number of houses in Santa Monica.  My grandparents lived in several places before they finally built their own home on Berkeley St. just off of Wilshire Blvd., which was a dirt road at the at time!

My Grandpa Vos gave me my first Bible.  I still have it.  The family were members of the Dutch Reformed Church until they moved to Santa Monica where there was no DRC.  They tried several churches and, eventually, settled on the Baptist church.  My Grandpa sang in the choir there.  In fact, all of the Vos family were musical.  Grandpa could play the organ and any kind of horn.  He had a booming bass voice and did lots of solos.  Sometimes my mother and I would go to his church to hear him sing.  The Vos family had a family band in The Netherlands.  In the picture below, you can see that some of them are holding their instruments.  They have many musicians among their descendants.
Back Row Standing L to R
Wiebe, Trijntje, Ruurd, Jenneke (my grandfather)
Middle Row L to R
Jeltje (great grandmother) holding Tjerkje, Liewe, Lolle Jenneke (great grandfather)
Front Row L to R
Eeltje, Tjerk, Pier

During WWII, many workers were needed in the aircraft industry.  My grandfather went to work at Douglas Aircraft and he remained there until he retired.  In 1924, he became a citizen of the United States.  When he died in 1969, he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica next to my grandmother who had preceded him in death.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joseph Chilson, Part Two, Baptist Minister

In yesterday's blog, I talked about my second great grandfather, Joseph Chilson, as a Civil War soldier.  I am proud of him for his service to his country but I am also proud of him for his service to his Lord as a Baptist minister.

He was ordained in Kansas, before coming to Fallbrook, San Diego Co., California.  I'm still looking for more information about this.  He arrived in Fallbrook about 1886.  Besides being a minister, he was also a carpenter and he helped to build Fallbrook's First Baptist Church in 1888 (pictured here).  This church stood in Fallbrook until 1968 when it was replaced with a newer brick structure.  I'm so happy I got to see it before they tore it down!

Joseph lived in Fallbrook most of the time he was in San Diego Co. but he also lived in Merle, a railroad village in San Diego Co., near Encinitas.  In 1890, he is listed in the business directory in Merle as Rev. Chilson, Baptist.  I'm not clear how long he served at this church but he did return to Fallbrook by 1894 and remained there until after 1905, when he still appears in the business directory.

Joseph moved to Los Gatos, Santa Clara Co. by 1908 and was still living there in 1911 when he was involved in a controversy at Los Gatos Baptist Church.  According to an article in the San Francisco Examiner, the pastor of this church was preaching socialism and progressive religion.  The members, including Joseph Chilson, who objected to this were asked to leave the congregation.  It was quite an uproar!  Apparently, Joseph did leave.  He moved, briefly to Campbell and then to San Mateo where he died in 1915 at the age of 77.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Joseph Chilson and his wife Mary Elizabeth Cook

My second great grandfather, Joseph Chilson, son of Jonathan Alvord Chilson and Philinda Slack, was born 22 September 1838 in Chester, Geauga Co., Ohio.  He moved, with his birth family, a number of times to several counties in Ohio, then to Cass Co., Missouri, then to several counties in Kansas.  It was in Kansas that he met and married my second great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Cook, daughter of Oliver Hartwell Cook and Clarissa Quincy.  They were married on 1 August 1860 in Miami Co., Kansas.

Joseph Chilson served for the Union in the Civil War as follows:  He enlisted at Paola, Kansas on 15 August 1863 and began his service at Ft. Scott, Kansas on 26 August 1863.  He served in Co. F, 14th Kansas Cavalry under Col. Charles Blair and Capt. Albert F. Briggs.  The 14th Kansas was organized in the Spring of 1863 and, on the 20th of November 1863, moved from Ft. Scott to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where it engaged in scouting, foraging, and picketing.  Then they moved to Choctaw Country and later returned to Ft. Smith.  Then they served in the Camden Expedition in Arkansas, Missouri, and Indian Territory.

Joseph began his service as a Private and later served as a Commissary Sergeant.  He became ill and was left at the hospital in Paola, Kansas.  After he recovered, he served as an Assistant Surgeon in the 16th Kansas Cavalry until he mustered out at the end of the war.

Joseph later moved to Fallbrook, San Diego Co., California, and was among the early settlers there.  He was a Baptist minister and served in San Diego Co. until after his wife died in 1899.  He then moved north to Los Gatos in Santa Clara Co. and then to San Mateo in San Mateo Co.  There he married Hannah T. Carson in 1908.

Joseph collected a pension for his military service and, after his death, his wife Hannah collected it until her death.  He died on 23 January 1915 in San Mateo and is buried in St. John's Cemetery.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


A 52-week challenge went out last year to genealogists to post one ancestor per week.  I didn't do it last year but thought I would give it a try this year.  Here is my post for the first week of 2015.

My fourth great grandfather, William SLACK, was born 21 February 1783, probably in Windham Co., Connecticut, where his parents were living at the time.  They were Christopher SLACK and Phebe (surname unknown).  He was baptized as an adult in Northampton on 23 April 1795.  He first married Hannah CASWELL (my ancestor), daughter of Jonathan CASWELL and Margery MARKHAM, who was born in Middlesex Co., Connecticut.  He died 3 September 1845 in Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts.

William's family moved to Northampton, Massachusetts, and William went on to Otsego Co., New York.  Hannah's family moved to Otsego Co., New York also and, I believe, that is where they were married on 13 April 1807.  They were living in Springfield, Otsego Co. and had four children there. Two died in infancy and Hannah died about 1812.  After her death, William returned to his family in Northampton with his two remaining children, Philinda SLACK (my ancestor) and Jonathan Caswell SLACK.

William married twice more after returning to Massachusetts.  He married Priscilla PELTON and then Nancy DAMON TORREY HALL, as her third husband.

William SLACK was a farmer, weaver and, according to town records, had a cider mill, as well.  He was a land owner and, eventually, his land went to his son Jonathan.  Here is the interesting thing I found out about him...  He was arrested as a grave robber!  The following item appeared in the Hampshire Gazette on 4 October 1837:  "Supreme Court:  In the case of the Commonwealth vs William Slack and J. (oseph) Kingsley from this county, which was an indictment for removing a dead body before burial, from Westhampton to Northampton, against the statute for protecting the sepulchers of the dead, the defendants were discharged on the ground that the indictment did not allege such facts as were material and necessary to bring them within the provisions of the law."  Apparently, they did remove a body but the court wasn't presented with sufficient evidence of a crime.  I certainly wonder why they moved it!!

Note:  The sources for this information and all other information on my family are available in my files.