August 4, 2015

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You know, I don’t know which I love more, genealogy or history.  I think finding your ancestors who participated in history has to be one of the most fulfilling endeavors ever, don’t you?  I don’t mean just finding veterans of the many wars, but family members who emigrated, migrated, farmed, rode thousands of miles in tiny little covered wagons, braved weather and disease, child bearing and looked death in the eye and said, “I am not defeated yet!”.

Those people are my heroes and heroines.  Everyday people who wanted better for their families.  My only regret is that in doing so they also forever changed the lives of the first ones to migrate to the United States.  I can’t change history, and we can hopefully learn from it.

The Home Friend 1909: Sears House Plans

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The Home Friend 1909: Sears, Roebuck and Company

House Plans

sears-building-plans

The Sears Catalog is long gone now, and at the end they were certainly not selling houses, but as you can see from this 1909 ad in the Home Friend they had a running concern for them at that time. How many of you live in a house built with Sears home plans?

The Curtis Company, Clinton, Iowa

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While Sears was making plans, two hundred miles away in Clinton, Iowa the Curtis Lumber Company was churning out wooden bullseye rosette blocks that you might have seen in some of those Sears houses. I’m sure many of us have seen them even in old houses today. It’s hard to believe that at one time Clinton, Iowa, a town on the Mississippi River, was known as a mill town rather than the industrial city it is now.

Between the late 1850’s and 1900, the Clinton area was regarded as the sawmill capital of the nation.  Huge log rafts were floated down river from Wisconsin and Minnesota, cut into lumber at Clinton, then shipped to growing communities east, west, north and south via the river and the railroads.

Clinton Convention & Visitors Bureau • 721 S. 2nd Street • Clinton, Iowa 52732 • 563.242.5702 • cvb@clintonia.com

A Festival of Postcards: Wheels

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Jim and I are going out of town for a few days on a car trip, so I want to leave you with a recent post. I’m participating in a genealogy carnival A Festival of Postcards, with the topic this time of “wheels”. You may not see many actual wheels in this picture, but it was taken in Springfield, Missouri in 1909 when my Grandfather Will Yates was just a young man. That’s him on the far right with the white neckerchief around his neck.

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I believe this picture was taken at a railroad repair yard (hence, the wheels connection).  Grandpa was writing to his father Jim Yates in West Plains, Missouri and the short note reads, “Hello how are you all down there? How is the corn. Write to me. W. Yates”.

This photo is special to our family because it is the earliest one we have of Grandpa Will. I have never seen any baby or childhood pictures of him, but times were tough and our family wasn’t anywhere near wealthy. Grandpa was born March 14, 1892, so he would have been around 17 years old when this picture was taken. That may seem young now to be out working, but I bet he had been working for a few years (or all of his life in some way) even before that.

will-k-yates-as-a-young-man

The above photo was taken around the same time. Looks pretty dapper, doesn’t he? For a little added “wheels” the photo below is my dad at age two in the car they rode in when the family came to Washington state. Take note: There was no windshield on the car in this picture, or for that road trip either. Grandma must have been a saint!

wg-yates-1922-with-truck

MacArthur Left But Volckmann Remained

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Almost everyone from my generation (baby boomers) knows the quote by General Douglas MacArthur wherein he says, “We Shall Return” in reference to when he was ordered to leave the Philippines in 1942 to command allied forces in the Southwest Pacific Command.

What you may not know is that many men under his command didn’t just surrender as they were ordered, but instead they avoided the Bataan Death March and other atrocities by traveling to northern Luzon where they waged the fight of their lives. One of these men is the subject of this article. His name was Russell W. Volckmann and he was from Clinton, Iowa.

Volckmann

We first were made aware of Colonel Volckmann (his rank in 1941) after reading a small book published by the The Clinton Herald, and written by Gary Herrity. Herrity’s reference to the book written after the war entitled “We Remained” (1954) by Volckmann caught our interest, and after waiting about a week for an interlibrary loan, we were able to read this previously unknown (to us) account of Russ Volckmann’s three years behind the lines fighting against the Japanese invaders.

While Volckmann wasn’t the only person to remain on the island, he was one of four men to help build the guerrilla forces and lead them, along with many brave Filipino citizens, in a three year endeavor to survive and thwart the ruthless ‘Japs’.

volckmann-and-valdes-07-july-1945

Philippine Army Chief of Staff Major Gen. Basilio J. Valdes (L) posing outside command post w. legendary Luzon guerrilla leader Colonel Russell Volckmann (R).  LIFE photo

I would like to make a special point of mentioning that if it wasn’t for the extreme courage and sacrifices that were made by the Philippine people, the outcome of the war and the survival of Volckmann and his compatriots would never  have happened as it did.

Russell Volckman went on to become a Brigadeer General after the war, and is noted even now as one of the proponents of the use of guerilla warfare that has since become one of the effective methods of defence. Volckmann was often sought out as a military consultant on this subject.

Volckmann’s book is well worth reading, not only for American historians, but for Filipino historians too.  My husband is also from Clinton, Iowa.  He said that he never remembered hearing about Colonel Volckmann, or being taught about his importance  in American history in any of his classes throughout his school years.

We cannot forget these heroes!

Sources:

Golden Oldies of Clinton History, Vol. 2 – Gary Herrity (2003-08)

We Remained – Russell W. Volckmann (1954)

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