Monthly Archives: January 2020

Tombstone Tuesday – January 28, 2019 – James W. Smith


James W Smith was the son of James and Susanna (Overly) Smith. He was born in Darke County, Ohio on July 26, 1843. When James was just a toddler, his parents moved to Nine Mile, Indiana with several other family members and friends from Darke County when these families obtained land patents from the government. James and Susanna had fourteen children; Margaret (1831), Mary Ann (1833), Sarah Elizabeth (1834), William (1835), Branson (1839), Charles (1840-1863), Kisiah (1842), James W. (1843), Joseph (1847), John Francis (1849), Susan M. (1852), Henry C (1854), Martha (1856) Barberry (1857-1857)

In the 1860 Census, James and Susanna are found in Nine Mile, Indiana with all of the children listed except Barberry who had died. It is my belief that Susanna misunderstood the purpose of the Federal Census and simply told the census taker who her living children were. This record was an early stumbling block for me. All the marriage records for the older children I had found. I thought were different Smith children who were not related because this census record indicated that they all still lived at home. How could Margaret have married Benjamin C Davis if she is still listed with her parents in this record, I wondered. Eventually I determine where the error was. The oldest five children were married prior to the 1860 Federal Census and are also found listed in the Census where they lived.

James  W., the subject of this blog, enlisted in 142 Infantry during the Civil War. He signed up in June of 1863. At the time his residence was listed as Whitley County, Indiana. His sister, Sarah Elizabeth and her husband, Robert Hood, lived in Whitley County, Indiana.  Several of his Overly cousins also served but they still lived in Allen County, Indiana.


After returning from the War, James married Oella Denney on March 12, 1869.  James and Oella had six children; William F. (1869), Alvin Oliver (1873), Della (1874), Dora Belle (1876), Etta Clare (1882-1905), Francis Willard (1887).

In the 1870 Census, James and Oella live in Lafayette Township, Allen County, Indiana. They live near his mother, Susanna, who is a widow. Two years earlier, his father, James, had died. Living with James and his family which consisted of Oella and William F, is his brother, Henry Charles.  The census states that Charles is 7, but he is 17 and likely helping James on the farm. He is using the name Charles instead of his given name, Henry. I believe this is because his brother, Charles Henry had died in 1863. While I can not confirm it, I believe that Charles Henry died early in the Civil War. That remains a mystery yet to be solved. It is also my belief that James W joined into the conflict due to the fact that his brother had been killed. Charles H. Smith is buried in the Smith plot in the Nine Mile Cemetery.

In the 1880 Federal Census, James and Oella have four children listed ; William, Alvin, Della, and Dora. James is a farmer by trade and they live in Union Township, Wells County, Indiana. I see no evidence that his mother Susanna is still alive but I can not find a death record for her yet.

By the 1900 Federal Census, James and Oella live in Zanesville, Indiana. They have three children living with them; William F who is twenty eight and still unmarried, Etta Clare and Francis. This is the only official record that I find Etta Clare in. She married Homer Wert in 1903 and dies in child birth in 1905.


I first discovered that she was a member of this family after seeing this photo of the Splinter School which showed Etta and Francis (Frank) Smith. I had a picture of her all these years, Grandma I had written on it long ago, Etta Wirt but I did not know how she fit into the family.  I did later find a marriage record for her and Homer Wert. It had been there all the time waiting for me to find it. This census also reveals that Oella and James have had eight children and six of whom have survived. Another fact that had I had not known.

In the 1910 Federal Census, James and Oella are found in Union Township, Wells County, Indiana. Alvin and his family and William F and his family live a few doors away. In the this census it states that James and Oella have had eight children and five of whom are living.

James W Smith FamilyCP

James W Smith Family –  1908

This was the last and only photo taken of James W Smith that I have. It was likely taken around 1908 and I am giving it that date based on the children that are in the photo and the child who is not in the photo. Etta Clare has already died and the little girl seated in the front row second from the left is her daughter, Lulu Etta. She was born in 1905 when Etta died. She looks two or three years old. William and Dessie Heckman Smith have a daughter born in 1910, Della. She is not in this photo.

Seated in the front row : James Wert, Lulu Etta Wert, Alvin Sparks, Everett Smith, Virgil Sparks, Talmage Sparks, Nora Sparks, Ethel Straley

Seated in Row two : Ruth Jackson(standing), Dora Smith Jackson, Cora Crites Smith holding James Fredrick Smith, James W Smith, Oella Denney Smith, Dessie Heckman Smith holding Virgil Smith.

Standing in row three: William Henry Jackson, Alvin Smith, William Sparks, Della Smith Sparks, Oscar Jackson, Homer Wert, William F Smith, Francis Smith, Arena Straley Smith.

One hundred and seven years ago today, James W Smith died in Wells County, Indiana.

James WSmith

James W Smith is buried in the Uniontown Cemetery in Union Township, Wells County, Indiana.


Rest in peace, James!

Love, Jan

James W Smith is my 2X Great Grandfather.




Tombstone Tuesday – January 21, 2020 – James Lee Pittington

James Lee Pittington was born on October 12, 1953 in the canal zone of Panama.  He was the son of Jay Lee and Jane Harriet (Bohlig) Pittington.  Atthe time of his birth, his father,  Jay,  was in the military serving in Panama.  James’s father, Jay Lee  was born in Colorado to an unwed mother who gave him up for adoption.  He was born Jay Lee Henderson.  The Pittington surname was the name of  the family whom adopted him.

Jay Lee and Jane had for children ; James (1953),  John, Janel, Joni. I found these names listed in the obituary for Jay Lee and Jane who died 7 days apart in early June of 2001.

On June 3, 1955, Jay Lee,  Jane and James arrived in New York aboard the ship, Ancon. The family settled in Colorado where they lived in Loveland until sometime after 1973.

JamesLPittingtonMaryEAnkarbergOn August 11, 1979,  James Lee married Mary Ellen Ankarberg in Kent Washington.

There are three public records which indicate that James Lee and Mary Ellen lived at 420 Alvord Avenue N., Kent, Washington for a number of years. One of the records lists the year of 1987 but by 1992, James is listed at 229 121st Ave S., Kent, Washington.

Due to the fact that I am researching someone from a fairly recent past, there is little information available on James Lee. I have not located a tombstone or an obituary. From family trees on Ancestry, it appears that he and Mary Ellen had three sons but they are living so that information is private.

Thirteen years ago on January 21, 2007, James Lee died at the young age of 53 in Pierce, Washington.

Rest in peace, James!

Love,  Jan

James Lee Pittington was married to my second cousin, Mary Ellen Ankarberg



Tombstone Tuesday – January 14, 2020 – Haakon Ingwardo Andersen

Haakon Ingwardo Anderson was the son of Hans and Ingeborg ( Jacobsen) Andersen. He was born on September 9, 1891 in Grimstad, Tjome, Norway.  Hans and Ingeborg had three sons ; Andres (1883), Jacob Hagbart (1888), Haakon (1891).  When Haakon was just three years old, his mother, Ingeborg died on September 18, 1894. Hans was a fisherman and was out to sea at the time of he death. Olava Hansen Jorgensen, Hans’s mother, took care of the young boys until Hans’ return and he eventually remarried a spinster whose name was Mathilde Zainer. For Haakon, who was so young, Mathilde became the only mother he will ever remember.


A place that Haakon worked but not for long.

Haakon sent this post card to his brother, Andres,  and told him that he tried to work here but it just did not work out. He also asked Andres if he could send him money to buy a watch so when he got his job, he could be there on time. Can’t help but wonder if that was the problem with this job? Obviously, Andrew was familiar with what this building was.

For Haakon, being a sailor was out of the question.  His father was a sailor and sailed all over the world. His older brother,  Andres was a sailor and he sailed off to America and Haakon has not seen him since he left. Hagbart, his next older brother, took a job sailing and during a trip to Australia became sick and died. In Norway, at the time, there were very few employment options especially on the island of Tjome where he lived. Eventually his strong faith enable him to find his life’s calling in 1915. He become a missionary with the Norwegian National Church and was sent to the northwestern part of the Shansi province of China. Before leaving Norway, Haakon decided to officially change his name from Haakon Ingwardo Andersen to just Haakon Ingwardo. There were far too many Andersen missionaries in the Norwegian National Church.

The location of the mission in the Shansi province was in a mountain range which consisted of a series of plateaus dotted with steep gorges that transitioned into valleys before mountains rose to the heavens again. There were no roads in this area of China when Haakon arrived.  You  made your way to the mission on foot or on a mule.

When he arrived at the mission, much to Haakon’s surprise, a young woman by the name of Anna Charlotte Skafjeld was there.  She grew up on the western shore of the same small island that he lived on in the village of Glenne. She had arrived the year before and had been studying the language for a year.  Working together, a romance developed and and blossomed. In 1918, Anna and Haakon married.  They each had their own mission responsibilities. They often spoke of those years as the best of their lives because that were together doing what the Lord had called them to do.


1916 – China Mission Conference – Haakon is standing against the wall under the X

In 1919, Elsa was born. In 1926, she was sent to an English boarding school in China four days travel from Tsinglo where the mission was located.  In 1932, a thirteen year old Elsa was loaded into a ship called “Raj Putuna Greenock” where she spent 2 months traveling back to Norway leaving her parents and her siblings behind where she would continue her school in Norway.  In 1928, Randi was born, then came Aslaug in 1930, Olaf in 1933 and Bjarne in 1934. In the late 1938 or 1939,  Anna returned to Norway with the remaining four children so they could attend Norwegian schools. It was very difficult to raise a family on your own for a woman in Norway.

A few short years later the Germans occupied Norway and a difficult task became even worse. Across the ocean in China, in 1943, Japan occupied China and Haakon was required to leave Tsinglo for good. He was held  as a prisoner in Japan in a mission which was closed and guarded but there was food and fairly comfortable accommodations. A much better situations than in Norway.

By time of the occupation, Anna and all the older girls labored as much as they could to survive as a family. Olaf and Bjarne were still in school during the war. Everything you needed to run a household was rationed or just did not exist during the occupation. Anna and Haakon were a half a world away from each other throughout the war.

It wasn’t until 1947 that he could get back to Norway. In 1951, Haakon returned to Japan with mixed feeling. He missed the mission in China that he had developed but China had closed its borders in 1949. Now how would it feel to run a mission where he was basically held captive all during the war? Haakon and his team had a mission going within the month and he remained there until 1959 when he retired.


Haakon’s 75th Birthday – 1967 – Haakon, Anna, Aslaug, Bjarne, Elsa, Olaf, Randi

Fifty years ago today, January 14, 1970, Haakon died in Norway.  I do not know where he is buried for certain. Maybe someday I will get there again and the relatives can show me where.

Rest in peace, Haakon, job well done.

Love, Jan

Haakon is my Great Uncle.

Tombstone Tuesday – January 7, 2020 – Catherine Amanda Diffendorfer Clark

Robert Clark Amanda Diffenderfer Clark

Catherine Amanda Diffendorfer was born on May 23, 1842, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Silvers) Diffendorfer. She was born Wayne County, Ohio. In the 1860 Federal Census, Amanda is found with her parents Henry and Elizabeth in Wayne County, along with her siblings; George Wm (1839), Hiram (1841), Henry (1844), Melissa (1846). Her father Henry’s occupation is listed as Cooper.

She married Robert Clark on September 9, 1864 in Wells County, Indiana.

In the 1870 Federal Census, Robert and Catherine Amanda have two children; James C (1868) and Minnie V (1869). Robert’s occupation is Harness Maker. They live in Lafayette Township, Allen County, Indiana.  Catherine Amanda is found as Amanda in the remaining census records.

By the 1880 Federal Census, Robert and Amanda are living in the town of Zanesville, Indiana. They have six children; James C (1868), Minnie (1869), Theodore (1871), William H.(1873), Charles (1875), Markley U. (1878). Robert is a harness maker. In the 1900 Federal Census, Robert and Amanda remain in Zanesville. Living with them are three of their children; Charles, Chase (1882) and Alma (1884), a grandson, Glenn Culf (1891) and Amanda’s brother Hiram Diffendorfer (1841) who is 59 years old. The record states that Amanda has had ten children and eight are still living.

By the time of the 1910 Federal Census, Robert is now the Postmaster for the Zanesville post office where they still live. Hiram Diffendorf lives with them. The record states that Amanda has had ten children and that seven are living.

In the 1920 Federal Census, Amanda is seventy seven years old.  She is a widow who lives with her daughter in Union Township, Huntington County, Indiana. Her daughter is Alma Smith, married to Bert Smith. They have four children; Merrie (1911), Robert M. (1913), Martha V. (1918), Verlin M. (1920).


Ninety four years ago today, Amanda died in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is buried with her husband in Hoverstock Cemetery located Zanesville, Indiana.


There is a bit of confusion about the years that she died. Her tombstone says 1924 but the Death Certificate says January 1925. The death certificate is signed by Mrs. Minnie Wagner, her oldest daughter.

Rest in peace, Amanda!

Love, Jan

Amanda is the wife of my first cousin four times removed.

Tombstone Tuesday – December 31, 2019 – Rita Ingwardo

Rita Ingwardo-Cropped

Rita Ingwardo was the daughter of Bjarne and Sigrunn Ingwardo born on February 19, 1959 in Norway. Bjarne and Sigrunn had three children; Rita(1959), Knut (1961) and Steinar (1964). Sigrunn had an older son who Bjarne adopted who became Torgeir Ingwardo. They lived in the suburbs of Oslo.


Rita, Sigrunn, Bjarne with Steinar and Knut standing in front – 1973 

Rita had two children; Charlotte and Henrik.  Rita was a social worker who help immigrants adapt to and assimilate into the Norwegian lifestyle. She was a very strong, kind, caring woman. She died in her sleep on December 31, 2018 of what appears to have been heart ailment which went was not diagnosed.


Rita, Charlotte, Henrik

Rita was our cousin who we had known through letters shared between my sister, Sharon and Rita when they were teens. In 2010, my siblings and I traveled to Denmark to visit Rita’s Dad, Bjarne. He took us to Norway for a short visit where Rita acted as our tour guide. She proudly showed us her beloved Oslo with a wonderful bus tour. We also took a sailboat across the Olso Fjord to the Viking Ship Museum which features a Viking ship that was unearthed near where our Norwegian family originates on the Island of Tjome.


Standing : Matt, Sue, Pam and Mark  Seated:  Bjarne, Sharon and Jan – Fall 2010 – Headed to Norway 

Seven years later in 2017, my sister, Sharon, my nephew, Zach and I returned to Norway to visit Tjome and spend a few days with Rita. Once again she was our tour guide and hostess. We visited Tjome and met Inger Zeiner (another relative by marriage) who showed all of us where our ancestors have flourished for a couple hundred years. It was an inspiring trip full of “goosebumps” events. We stood on the beach that our Great Grandfather fished and sailed out of. We visited the area where our 2X Great Grandmother house was…long gone but we could still feel her presence.


Sharon, Zach, Rita and I – Standing outside of our Great Grandfathers home – 2017

Later that morning we visited the home of our Great Grandfather, Han Andersen. The current owners are friends of Inger and they graciously invited us into their home for coffee and cake. They were able to show us the old walls of the original structure. We visited with a man who knew our Great Grandfather when he was a child. He told us stories of Hans and his role in the German occupation of the island during WWII and his life. Later that afternoon we visited the Tjome Church and the cemetery where our family members have been buried for hundreds of years. It was an amazing day with Rita.


Tea in Great Grandpa Han’s House – Rita, Zach, Inger’s Friend, Jan, Sharon, Inger – 2017

Rita tried to teach us Norwegian and we taught her a little American English slang. We are so thankful to have been able to spend the time that we did with our sweet cousin.

Last year when we heard that she had died, neither Sharon or I could believe the news. We contacted Charlotte and she confirmed it. We were so overwhelmed that this vibrant young woman could be dead but she was. After a couple of weeks, we realized that her funeral had been postponed until late into January. My sister and I decided to go to Norway for her funeral and a visit afterwords to her Dad, Bjarne, who is very sick, too sick to go to his daughter funeral.

It was a very sad trip but something we felt a need to do. As a result of that visit, we were able to meet her brothers, Knut and Steinar, whom we had not met before. We spent five days with Rita’s daughter and her new husband, Vidar. It was a comfort to know that Charlotte had found a wonderful husband since we had met her in 2017 and they were building a wonderful family. Charlotte told us that Rita had lost her mother when she was 29 years.  Charlotte said “I am 29.”  Sigrunn was 59 years old when she died. Charlotte said, “My Mother was 59 years old too. “

We miss Rita. We know she is with her mother who she spoke of often and we knew she missed her very much.

Rest in peace, Rita! We love and miss you!

Love, Jan

Tombstone Tuesday – December 24, 2019 – George Melvin Boyer

George Melvin Boyer was born on March 14, 1883 in Rose Township, Oakland County, Michigan. His parents were David and Rhette (Blowers) Boyer. Rhette died in 1883. David married Eunice Electra White. George was raised by David and Eunice. George had three half sisters and two half brothers ; Nellie (1887), Daniel (1888), Clarence (1890), Flossie (1894), Celia (1900).

In the 1900 Federal Census, George is sixteen years old and has finished his schooling. His occupation is listed as Farm Laborer. On January 13, 1914, George married Mabel Dora Pomeroy.

One year later in the 1915 New York State Census, George and Mabel live in Buffalo Ward 25, Erie County, New York. They have a daughter, Mabel Esther who is 212 days old. On George’s 1918 Draft registration, George states that he works for Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company which is located on 2600 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, New York. He list his occupation as a Mechanic and his birthday is listed as Mar 14, 1881. (not 1883)

In the 1920 Federal Census, George and his family are still found in Buffalo. He works in the “Aeroplane” Industry and a engine Mechanic. He and Mabel have four children; Ester (1915), Melvin (1917), Ethel (1918) and Donald (1920).  In the 1925 New York State Census, George listed his occupation as garage mechanic.

By the time of the 1930 Federal Census, George is a Millwright. George and Mabel have two daughter who remained at home. In the 1940 Federal Census, George is working as a Millwright. Ester and Ethel still live at home.

George registered for the World War II Draft and stated that he was born in 1883 in this record. He is employed by Houde Engineering Company. The family resided at 41 Arkansas Street in Buffalo, New York.

Sixty years ago on December 24, 1959, George Melvin died in Buffalo, New York. As of today, I am unable to find a tombstone or the location where George is buried. When I find out that information, I’ll update this blog.

Rest in peace, George

Love, Jan