Friday, March 4, 2016

Great Grandma's Leg

~Great Grandma’s Leg~

Great Grandma Cooper was my mother’s mother’s mother!  That makes her your Great, Great, Great Grandma!  Her name was Mable Irene Parmelee, and when she married Jay Cooper, she became Mable Irene Parmelee Cooper.  I was very fortunate to be able to know Grandma Cooper very well. 

Grandma Cooper only had 1 leg.  She lost her other leg when she was around 10 or 11.  What happened???  Mable was born in 1881, so it was around 1892 when she was seriously hurt and had surgery. 

 Grandma Cooper loved to run and ride her bike, just like you . . . . 
One day, Mable was outside and was riding her bike.  She ran into the pump in the yard and cut her leg below her knee.  (In the year 1892, most people did not have plumbing in their homes.  Their source of water was from a pump that was in their yard.  The pump was about 3-4 feet tall with a spigot on one side and a long handle on the other side.  They would have to hold the handle and pump it up and down to bring water up to the spigot, and it would flow out). The cut was pretty bad.  Her Mom and Dad cleaned up her leg and bandaged her up.  The cut was very deep, and soon, Mable had a serious infection that became gangrene.  Gangrene can be life-threatening if it is not taken care of immediately.

Mable’s parents took her to the doctor in town.  It was decided that her leg would need to be amputated just below the knee.  That was Mable’s first surgery.  She went home with her Mom and Dad.  Her leg was trying to heal, but . . . .  as it turned out, the gangrene had spread much further than the doctor had realized.  And so, Mable found herself back on the surgical table.  The doctor had to remove more of her leg, up above the knee.
Back home she went with her parents.  I am sure that her younger sisters and brothers were so excited to see her!  This time, her leg healed properly and well. 

Grandma Cooper had a “prosthesis,” a false leg section that was made for her.  She had this made as an adult.  She seldom used it, she said that it gave her pain.  She much preferred the crutches that she used for most of her life.  She could move as quick as most of us, and with her crutch, her reach was way beyond ours!  In the last few years of her life, Grandma Cooper began using a wheelchair, but she was in her 90’s! 

Mable Irene Parmelee Cooper, photo taken about 1918.

Can you imagine how it must have been for Mable, learning how to get around with only 1 leg?  She would go up and down stairs, carry babies, clean house.  Grandma Cooper used to remind me that I could do anything that the Lord had in mind for me to do, and she would tell each of you that…… 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

~The Arsenic Laced Shortcake~

[A few years ago, a cousin and I decided to see if we could find the “real story” behind some of the family stories that we had grown up with.  This is one of the stories that we researched.]

                This Family Story is one that I do not remember hearing as a child, or even as a teen.  Perhaps I had heard it, and forgotten, or perhaps blocked it out.  Dad was re-telling some of the stories that I love to hear, and he said something to the effect that of course I knew about the Shortcake. . . . .  which of course I did not, so, he repeated the story for me.  How could I not have known this family tale, or remembered it!

            My cousin, Rob, and I began by writing down all that we could recall about this tragic story (with some corrections and direction from Rob’s mom, my Aunt Nancy).  The story was about our Grandma (Evelyn, my father’s mother) as a young bride, married just over 1 month.  She wanted to fix a nice dessert for the family, and decided upon Strawberry Shortcake.  Alas, there was no baking powder to be found in the kitchen.  Grandma Caroline (Evelyn’s mother-in-law) went on the search for some baking powder, and she found some in the shed that someone had mistakenly put there, and brought it in for Grandma Evelyn to use so that her shortcakes would rise nicely.

My Grandparents, Fred and Evelyn Dostal.  This photo was taken about a month before "the incident."

This is my Great Grandmother, Caroline Meyer Dostal.
             Grandma Evelyn set to making a delicious dinner and lovely dessert.  At dinner there was my Grandma Evelyn and Grandpa Fred (Fred was the husband of Evelyn and father of my father), Great Grandma Caroline (Fred’s mother) and Great Uncle John Meyer, Grandma Caroline’s elder brother.  The family version of the story related that everyone got extremely sick and Uncle John died!  Thankfully, Aunt Helen, the sister of Fred and daughter of Caroline, came by late that evening for something, and she found everyone very ill.  Apparently the Sheriff had to come out and do an investigation, and it was decided that no crime had been committed……  I could only imagine my Grandma’s sorrow and humiliation.  However, Daddy had told me the story, and I had never heard Grandma speak of the incident.

            And so, Rob and I set out to find what was fact, and what was fiction. . . . . . .  Through newspaper research online, and Aunt Nancy getting copies made from newspapers on microfilm at the Library, we have the documented story as written in the paper, The Ludington Daily News.  Here is a transcribed copy:

Arsenic Is Mistaken for Baking Powder
Mrs. Chas. Dostal, Her Son Fred and His Bride, All Were Near Death.
Prosecutor Fitch Finds Accident Responsible; Tragedy Explained.
Arsenic, mistaken for baking powder and used in a strawberry shortcake for supper, caused the death of John Meyer, 80 years, and endangered the lives of his sister, Mrs. Charles Dostal; her son Fred Dostal and his bride of a month, Evelyn Gaffney Dostal, who made the shortcake at the family home in Amber township Monday afternoon.
     Mrs. Dostal and her son were critically ill at noon today.  Dr. C. M. Spencer of Scottville told The News he is hopeful they will survive.  The young wife was almost out of danger, he said.

Search For Baking Powder.

     “Mother, where is the baking powder?” the young bride asked.  “I’ll make strawberry shortcake for supper.”
     A search resulted when the can was not found in its usual place.  Finally, an oldish-looking can was located in the woodshed.
     “Here’s a can three-quarters full, “said the mother.  “It looks kind of old, but I never heard of baking powder spoiling.”
     The shortcake was made and all four ate of it.  It didn’t taste first-class but Mr. Meyer, a hearty eater, ate all his share.  The mother, Fred and his wife left some of theirs.

Cheese Blamed First.

     Fifteen minutes later when chores were being done, Mr. Meyer complained of feeling sick.  Mrs. Dostal, senior, said her stomach didn’t feel right.  The trouble was attributed to cheese they had eaten for supper.  This was found to be er-  (cont’d. pg. ?, col. 1)


(Continued from Page One)
roneous when Fred Dostal recalled he had eaten a cheese sandwich in the afternoon and suffered no ill effects.
     Then they spoke of the shortcake not tasting right and an examination was made of the contents of the pan.
     Fortunately, when all were becoming very ill Miss Helen Dostal, sister of Fred, arrived home.  She had taken some strawberries to Ludington and had remained with her brother, William Dostal of 408 North Gaylord avenue, for supper.  She summoned Dr. Spencer.  He remained with his patients all night.  Mr. Meyer passed away at 4 o’clock this morning.

Bought Seven Years Ago.

     “I recall purchasing powdered arsenic seven or eight years ago and having it in a baking powder can,” Will Dostal told the news.  “I kept it and paris green in a small shed that adjoined the corn crib.  This building has been torn down since I lived on the farm.  The can was probably carried into the woodshed at that time.  I used an arsenic solution on seed corn to kill crows.”
     Prosecutor V. A. Fitch and assistant Coroner George E. Dorrell conducted an investigation.  The prosecutor was satisfied that death resulted from an accident.
     John Meyer observed his eightieth birthday anniversary on June 2, last.  He was a native of Germany and came to Ludington more than 40 years ago.  He worked in the saw mills and then bought a farm in Pere Marquette township east of creamery corners.  Twenty-two years ago he sold this house and bought another farm in Amber township where he made his home with his youngest son Louis, until his death three years ago.  Then he spent some time with his son, Riley, at Kingsley, but came to the home of his sister last September.

Four Sons Survive Him.

     Surviving are four sons:  Fred and Gust, of Detroit; Herman C., banker and general merchant of Boyne Falls, and Riley of Kingsley.  One daughter, Miss Emma Meyer, lives in Chicago.  Mrs. Dostal is his only sister.
     Fred Dostal and Miss Evelyn Gaffney were married but one month ago.  Miss Gaffney was a well known Mason county school teacher.

The Ludington Daily News
Tuesday, July 1, 1924
Page 1; Column 1

Transcribed by D. Biggs on 3 Feb 2011.

So, the story as we had heard, was really an abbreviated version of what happened.  It breaks my heart that Grandma lived with that for her whole adult life, I hope that she forgave herself, and knew that everyone else did too.  One of my brothers who lives close to the area hopes to find a copy of the police report, if public access.

Bless Their Hearts!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FINALLY: Get Organized! Week 9

A fun and creative week for our homework!  

It's Storytime!!!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

FINALLY Get Organized! 28th Feb-5th Mar Checklist

FINALLY Get Organized! 28th Feb-5th Mar Checklist

So as we approach this week's organization checklist, let's take a break and actually start sharing.

Let's step away from the overwhelming task of comparing our digital and paper files. Let's quit fussing about where to file things about a woman before or after marriage, or what to do with your ancestor's in-laws info that fell into your lap late last year. Let's go so far as to shelve our worries about what to do with our Family Tree Maker Files during this transition period. Let's SHARE our family history in small, manageable bites at a time, so as to not choke our family members at the very thought of another "genealogy lecture."

  1. Let's take this week to tell 1 family history story per day, just for the fun of it! Rejoice in the freedom to share your memories with others. It could be:
  • A childhood memory
  • Something you remember about your Dad
  • A memory of your mother who always said _______________.
  • A school field trip.
  • Summer trip to visit ______________.
  • Why you love to eat ______________, when initially you didn't like it one bit.
  • Something your grandmother told you about her parents.
  • Your grandfather's opinion about _____________.
  • Something one of your children did when he was two or three.
  • The story of how you broke your arm, or skinned your knee, but it was totally worth it.
  • What grandpa said life was like when he was a child.
  • The house where your grandparents first lived.
  • The silly family story about ______________.
  • How saving for _____________ was the hardest thing you ever did.
  • What surprised you to learn about your grandmother's mother.
  • Great Uncle ______ who went to war.

 2. Mix it up a little. Anyone can write an email, but is that what will really make the "younger set" get excited about the family stories you've collected? Consider:
  • Setting 3-5 photos and documents on the kitchen table each day, then ask a grandchild or some other youngster in your neighborhood to record your with your smart phone. Upload the file to your free YouTube or FamilySearch account, and share the link to the video with your family and closest friends. For more info see:

  • If you are lucky enough to have inherited an old quilt, pair of glasses, a rocking chair or desk from your parents or grandparents, why not share the story of that treasure? Believe me, it's going to become a treasure when  your great-grandchildren can hear your voice as you tell about someone one or two generations older than you are.

So go on! Let's SHARE. You can bet Ol' Myrt will be doing this as well.

Soooooo, this week I will do my homework just a bit differently.
I will add a story for each day to this blog.
Some of the stories are ones that I have worked on already, 
but will add them here, as well as send them to each of our grandchildren
(and to our children as well......  :-) )
A few years ago, a cousin of mine and I set out to
"prove or disprove" some of the family
stories that we were told during our growing up years.
I felt that it was important to not only find the 
truth of the story, but also to save the original stories,
as they are a part of our history.....

FINALLY: Get Organized! Week 8!

Today is the 1st of March. . . . how can that be!!!!
We have completed week 8 of our Organization project!
This week we are adding siblings
to our genealogy programs,
with their documentation.

We've been working very hard so far this month in our FINALLY Get Organized! Checklists, so this week Ol' Myrt here is going to make this a little easier for you. We're going to take on the concept of siblings.

Some folks say they only compile information on their direct line parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents. Indeed we've only been working on the male lines, with a smattering on the female side of the family.

The very best genealogy break-throughs Ol' Myrt here has had have come from someone who descends from the brother or sister of my direct-line ancestors.

This is so true!  I have found
ancestors who were missing in census records
living with siblings, plus collaborated with the descendants of
siblings to break through some of our walls.....

  1. Add the names and compiled dates of birth, marriage and death for your 4 generations on your surname (if male) or maiden name (if female) in your genealogy management program This will make it easier to also attach group images you've already scanned to the other people in the photo. The same goes for obituaries where siblings are listed with their spouses.
For paper-centric genealogists, you'll now need to reprint the 4 family group sheets where:
  • You and your siblings now show up with your parents.
  • Your father and his siblings now show up with their parents.
  • Your grandfather and his siblings now show up with their parents.
  • Your great-grandfather and his siblings now show up with their parents, if known.

Siblings added with their vital records in place
and working on those citations.--- CHECK!

 2. If it takes more than one document to prove a point of fact about an ancestor's life, then attach the relevant documents, and under "notes" for the event or fact place a "written conclusion" about those multiple sources for one fact in your genealogy software. What's a written conclusion? It could be a simply proof statement, proof summary or more complex proof argument explaining why you believe your conclusion about this one fact accurately reflects your current thinking" about that facet of your ancestors life.
...Hoping to have at least one written conclusion done today 
and I will
add the conclusion here when it is done.

EXTRA CREDIT - Watch DearMYRTLE's The Written Conclusion Study Group (2015) based on Chapter 7 of Thomas W. Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof  (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013). [Book available from the publisher at , also available in Kindle format, described here.]

This is on my "to watch" list..... when we
have internet availablity.
In the meantime, I am re-reading chapter 7 of 
Thomas W. Jones' book.

Happy March

 from here in