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!