Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Dallas Lee Keller - My Name Sake

Dallas Lee Keller
1889 - 1977
Entered Into Eternal Rest
Monday, June 13, 1977
Dallas Lee Keller, 88, of 211 E. Calvert,
died at 8 p.m. Monday in the
Carlyle Nursing Home, where he had
been a resident for four years.
He was born on June 7, 1889,
in Christian County, Ky., and moved
to South Bend in 1942 from Illinois. He retired
from the former Studebaker Corp. in 1954,
after 12 years of employment.
On Oct. 10, 1911, in Murphysboro, IL.,
he married Lottie Frances Newsom,
who died on Aug. 17, 1939.
Surviving are two daughters,
Mrs. Mary Edith Sillis of Cambria, IL., and
Mrs. Nora Helen Brummell of South Bend,
a son, Francis Lee of St. Louis, MO.,
15 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchild;
seven great-great-grandchildren,
and a sister, Mrs. Cora Olenak of Hopkensville, KY.
Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. today
in the Bubb Funeral Chapel, Mishawka.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday
in the Johnson Funeral Home, Herrin, IL.,
with burial in Hinch Cliff Cemetery, Cambria, IL.
Rest In Peace
Loving Memories
Your gentle face and patient smile
With sadness we recall
You had a kindly word for each
And died beloved by all.
The voice is mute and stilled the heart,
That loved us well and true,
Ah, bitter was the trial to part
From one so good as you.
You are not forgotten loved one
Nor will you ever be,
As long as life and memory last
We will remember thee.
We miss you now, our hearts are sore,
As time goes by we miss you more,
Your loving smile, your gentle face,
No one can fill your vacant place.
Published in the pages of The South Bend Tribune,
South Bend, Indiana on June 14, 1977

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Godalming War Memorial

Henry Oliver, son of Henry & Sarah Oliver, father of Reginald Oliver, was my Great Grandfather on my father’s side. The only thing I really knew about him was his name. My Grandfather didn’t really know his father as he was but 2 years old when his father became a casualty of World War 1. What he did know was that his father created an instrument using a bicycle pump and was featured in a Daily Mirror newspaper along with photo.

He also knew that his father died during WW1, so, after some research I found that he died in France & Flanders on July 30, 1918. With the help of a kind researcher in England, I was directed to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) web site. They had a wealth of information pertaining to memorials constructed to honor those that served in the British
Military and lost their lives in both world wars. I came across a memorial in Godalming that
honors those lost from their town.
This memorial was erected between St. Peter & St. Paul Parish Church yard and a park, dedicated in 1920. Inside the parish is a plaque showing the names lost in WW1. After enlarging the image I was able to find my Great Grandfather’s name.
Also on the CWGC site I was able to do a search of my Great Grandfather’s name and discovered the cemetery he rests at along with a photo. Even though I never met my Henry Oliver, somehow knowing he is resting in such a beautiful place assures me he is resting peacefully.

While visiting my parents a few weeks ago we were looking through some old family heirlooms and came across an envelope labeled “From Dad’s Desk.” To my heart’s delight, we discovered the last belongings Henry owned.
1) A soldier’s bible with handwritten notes on the front and back pages. From what we can make out, these notes say:
Page 1: 7 Town End St, Godalming Surrey. Henry Oliver, from his loving wife, Norah, May 23, 1917. All things work together for good to them that love God.
Page 2: R Oliver, 7 Town End St, Godalming Surrey, 29-5-27

Back Page: Looking at life from dark side ____ cherish looking ____ from _____ _____ _____ _____. (Unable to read some of the words)
2) Two war medals and a hat pin: a) War Service medal 1914-1920: The obverse bears the uncrowned head of George V and the legend “GEORGIVIS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP:” The reverse has St. George on horseback facing right below a rising sun with the horse trampling on a shield representing death with the year ‘1914’ on the left and ‘1918’ on the right. The suspender is a straight economy non-swiveling type riveted to the medal. The ribbon: 1.25” wide with a broad central orange stripe and working outwards are narrower white, black and blue stripes on each edge. It is said that the orange represents the mud of the Western Front, the white for peace, the black for death and the blue for the rain.
b) Victory Medal 1914-19: The obverse of this bronze medal bears the winged figure of Victory holding a palm branch in her right hand with her left extended. The reverse has the inscription ‘THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILIZATION 1914-19’ surrounded with a laurel wreath. The ribbon is attached via a ring which passes through a small loop sweated to the top of the medal. The ribbon is rainbow colored measuring 1.55” wide reading from the center outwards red, orange, yellow,
green, blue and violet.
c) A hat pin that says 'The Suffolk Reg'.
3) The Memorial Plaque: In 1916 it was decided that some form of memorial would be established for presentation to the next of kin of those that died during the war. A government
committee was established to decide the nature of this memorial, and in August 1917 it was determined that it would take the form of a bronze plaque with the name of the lost. Buckingham Palace sent a letter with the plaque to the last of kin: I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War” George R.I.

4) A photo of, what we believe to be, Henry Oliver and his military band.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Beginning......

Several years after starting my own family, I realized that many of the things I enjoyed doing revolved around family, I scrapbook family photos, not only my own children but photos of my families’ past. There came a point where my parents handed me the "cherished family photo albums".

Going through these photos, I found myself mesmerized with wanting to know the background of the pictures. Where were they taken? Who was in them? What was the occasion for the photo? To my disappointment I discovered I knew little about the subjects of the photos, very little information was written in the albums or even on the back of the photos. Maybe if I did some research on my grandparents’ lives in England there would be a chance I could find out the information I was seeking. And then it began........

Jotting little notes here and there on what information I recalled from the few stories my grandparents, mostly my Grandfather, would tell me as a child. Little notes were all I had to go by. For some unknown reason, my grandparents did not speak much about their lives in England and other then my Grandmother’s mother and Grandfather’s father, even less talk about family. Why was that? Was there a reason they came to the United States that no one knows, not even my father?

Starting with my parents, then going on to my grandparents, I started to develop my family tree. Before I knew it I had over 1,000 names and dates in my list of leaves, as I call them. Most of these are on my mother’s side, researching that part of my roots has been remarkably easy to develop. Unlike my father, my mother is the youngest of 6 children, 8 if you count the step siblings, finding information on this line is like "shooting fish in a barrel."

Then the news of the century, or at least for my family, came and opened my eyes as to why finding the information I was seeking was so difficult. My father was adopted. Could this be the reason my grandparents moved from their home land to America in 1948? To make things more difficult, my father was not aware of the adoption. If he was told of the adoption, how would he feel? Should we tell him of the adoption, his parents’ wish must have been not to tell him as they had not.

After months of questioning, should I search, shouldn’t I? What about his biological family, weren’t they just as much who I am today as the adopted family was? Does the biological family want to be found? Do they want to know about my father now that he’s an adult? Questions started taking over and a new search began.

From the adoption papers I knew the biological mother’s name, however, the biological father’s information only stated deceased, a road block. Start where you know the information, so I started researching the biological mother. Found her birth date, found that she married and had two children. Sadly I also found that she had passed. Of course, now more questions arose. Did the children know they have a half sibling somewhere? If they knew, did they want to meet him? If they didn’t know, would it be too emotional for them and turn away? Wait, I can’t discover the answers to my questions because my father, at this point, was still unaware he was adopted. Did he want to know about is biological family or let it rest?

A short time ago, due to some unforseen circumstances, my father was made aware of his adoption. I believe shock was the emotion he felt the most, but, now he is curious as to whom his biological family is. Because of this, I was given the go-ahead to restart my search. After months of research, sending out feeler inquires, with what seemed to be no luck, I awoke Sunday morning to an email from my father’s half brother. So many emotions came over me, I broke down crying. Reading his email through my tears and then re-reading it to make sure I understood what he was saying.

It seems one of my first inquiry messages had somehow made it’s way to the family. They did not know about my father and was not sure if their father knew about the baby their mother had had before meeting and marrying him. This information took them both by surprise and they had many conversations regarding the somewhat sensational contents of my message. At this time they have elected to keep this information to themselves, between the two siblings, but stated that sometime in the future they may relay the information to the rest of the family.

He continued to say that "their" mother was a wonderful, warm and supportive "Mum" to them both. Like my father’s adopted "Mom", she too was a nurse, which shed some light on how the adoption possibly came to be and that the two "Moms" may have actually known each other.

The "sister" currently has my contact information and things have been left for her to make the decision on if she wants to contact my father. At this time, I think taking things one step at a time is best for all involved, with this sensative information, everyone needs to be at their own comfort level. Leaving things on a positive note, he included a photo of his family which included his wife and two children, wishing my father his best.

Now that the lines of communication have been opened, one day my father may someday speak with his siblings that, for 68 years, he never knew.