May 31, 2016

William Burden Stevenson – His final resting place in Port Orchard Washington

 

I wouldn’t have known about William B Stevenson at all if I hadn’t been researching a collateral family connection, his younger sister Isabel Katherine Stevenson who had married Benjamin Alysworth Ferris in Ontario Canada in 1878. This connection lead to a family connected to my Yates family some 137 years later. Since these are still living descendants, I’ve chosen to not disclose any further individuals in this line.

Instead, I’ve created a genealogy report for William that includes all of his immediate family information as well as sources. Individual Genealogy Report William Burden Stevenson (PDF)

It seems just too little to share just the report though. How do you sum up and man’s life with just a report. It’s doesn’t really speak to his rough and tumble upbringing in Ireland where as a young boy he would sneak out of the house to attend wakes and get inebriated on free ale. Or, his household that included not only his family members but also a goat in the house. The goat spent a lot of time in the kitchen in the house in Ireland, but it knew enough to make itself scarce when the lady of the house (William’s mother Ellen) would enter the kitchen. Did she flap her apron at him and tell him to ‘shoo’?

As William went off to join the British Navy, his father John (Jock) was ending his Irish Coast Guard career. This was during the reign of Queen Victoria and as I have mentioned before, John was awarded land in Canada which initiated the next migration of the family to Ontario.

As you remember, William deserted the British Navy and made his way to join the US Army. He served both in the Army and then in the Navy where they could put his true skills to work onboard ships. William was honorably discharged from the Union Navy and the decades that followed found him still in maritime service on merchant ships that sailed around the world. He would come home now and then and tell tales of his adventures, some of which were quite extraordinary (which his mother didn’t believe) and fabricated stories which his mother took as gospel. (this anecdotal information is from the book “Oh Lord, What Next” by Geraldine Jacobi Russell, mother of actress Jane Russell, who was also a descendant of the Stevenson family).

William’s first wife was Elizabeth Schumacher who was born 31 July 1841 in Pennsylvania. They married in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1881, and resided in Ardoch, Walsh, ND until her death in 1891. I haven’t yet found her cause of death or any children they might have had together. The year following Elizabeth’s death William married again in Grand Forks, ND, this time to Elenor Glen Seeley.

Elenor and William lived in the Ardoch, ND area from 1892 to 1900. During the years leading up to 1900 Elenor and William had three children: William, Kenneth B, and Loila. The middle child, Kenneth B (Burden?) was not living with the family when we find them in the 1900 census of Seattle, WA where William is employed as a Ship Master. Ten years later William and their two children are living in another location (Port Orchard, WA) and William is employed now as a rigger (one who works with rigging for ships) at Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton.

It appears that William and his family lived in Port Orchard through the years 1910 to the year of his death in 1926. Elenor would predecease him in 1924. The oldest son, William S. Stevenson was by then married to Idabelle and they were also living in Port Orchard with their daughter Willa who was born in 1933.

For a short time William Seeley Stevenson was the owner of Stevenson’s furniture store on Bay Street in Port Orchard, WA. The store building is still in existence but as of 2016 it is a community events center.

former stevenson furniture store

We come to the end of William Burden Stevenson’s life in 1926 when he entered the Veteran’s Home at Retsil, Washington when his health was failing and his family could no longer care for him at home. He had dementia and essentially had lost all of his motor skills and was completely dependent on the staff at Retsil. He passed away on 26 June 1926 and soon after the home ordered his headstone from the Veteran’s Administration. That stone has since been replaced by the one below and William and Elenor share the stone that is at Sunset Lane, Knights of Pythias Cemetery in Port Orchard, WA.

william b stevenson headstone

Fair winds and following seas William!

Previous articles about William Burden Stevenson

William Burden Stevenson 1842 – 1926

William Burden Stevenson – The Civil War Years 1862 – 1864

1893 W B Stevenson Civil War Pension Application Transcription

 

 

 

1912 Washington State Gun Fanatics

Gun Fanaticism Or Just Practicality?

Admittedly, I don’t really know what these men really felt about their guns and how ‘fanatical’ they might have been about using them. Anything I say here about them comes from my own views of how my family used their rifles, how they talked about them, and our family history with guns.

First, a little background on the people in this picture and where it was taken. From left to right is George Martin, obviously older than the other men in the picture. Next is William K Yates (my paternal grandfather, age 20), unknown man, and far right is Will Yates’ older brother Lemuel W Yates (age 25). On the back of this picture postcard is the postmark of “July 6, 1912 Union Mills, Washington.” I suppose it’s possible that the picture was taken somewhere else and then made into a postcard sent from Washington.

George Martin, Will Yates, , Lem Yates

All that said, I do believe it was taken near Union Mills, WA. I’m not showing the back of the postcard here, but I do have the original and it has been clipped along the edges, and the original message on the postcard was written in pencil and is now so light after 115 years I’m unable to read it. Union Mills, Washington was located in Thurston County near what is now the town of Lacey and was base for the Union Lumber Company.

Union Lumber Co. History

Source: Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History: Oregon, Washington

 By Donald B. Robertson

So, were they fanatics about their guns? I think they were in the sense that they felt they were a invaluable tool which they could always use to hunt game to feed their families. Or, at least supplement the larder at home. Considering there were no freezers of size at the time I assume they would dress their game in the woods if it was large like a deer, perhaps cutting it in smaller sections to be shared as they saw fit, and much of it eaten immediately. In this picture, I don’t think the men were actively hunting, but rather ‘posing’ for the photographer to make it look like an interesting tableau. The reason I say that is because it was probably taken and sent in July as the postmark indicates, and hunting season wasn’t until much later in the fall.

One thing I do know from my family history with my dad, “Never touch my gun” was law in our house and neither my brother nor I ever considered going against that edict. The men in my family (none of the women hunted, as far as I know) were fanatics about gun safety. I don’t think any of the hunters in the family ever used pistols because it just wouldn’t have been practical for their needs. I do know that when my dad hunted in he used a .30-06. I wonder what happened to that rifle. I bet my brother has it.

 

100 Years Ago Today WA Women Won The Right To Vote

Washington State Historical Society Photo

HeraldNet.com – Local news: How Washington women won the right to vote.

I’ve always exercised my right to vote since I was old enough to do so, but I so admire the women who stood up and fought to get their equal say at the ballot box here in our state.  Washington (caucasian) women were fully ten years ahead of the rest of the nation, and I suspect that at least my Moline and Nordgren grandmothers were fully on-board when the right was granted.

 

 

A Festival of Postcards: Wheels

will-yates-1909-front-back-card

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.

will-yates-1909-mo-back-of-card

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

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