Tree Heart Border

Thomas McWhirter Jr. was born 26 January 1835 in County Tyrone, Ireland to Thomas McWhirter (1800-1867) and Eliza Jane Beatty (1800-abt 1846)

On the U.S. Federal Census taken in September of 1850, Thomas was living in Ferrisburg, Addison, Vermont with his father Thomas McWhirter Sr. (1800-1867), stepmother Sarah McWhirter (1800-?), and younger siblings, Samuel McWhirter (1836-1874), Eliza McWhirter (1838-1900), James McWhirter (1843-?), Mary McWhirter (1840-?) and George McWhirter (1846-1883). Younger sister, Margaret McWhirter (1841-1914) was living with older sister Agnes McWhirter Clifford (1827-1898) in Burlington, Chittenden, Vermont, that same year.

My cousin, Laurie Winter, provided the following 1850 census record for the family.  The last name is  badly misspelled (Machosin…seriously?),  but all of the first names match up with our McWhirter family members.

Thomas McWhirter 1850 Census Ferrisburg, Addison, Vermont, United States1850 U.S. Census for Ferrisburg, Addison, Vermont
Taken: 25 September 1850

Thomas married Esther Scherer (1841-1885) on 10 November 1865 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, where he worked as a teamster.

Thomas McWhirter & Esther Shearer marriage RecordMarriage Record for Thomas McWhirter Jr., & Esther Scherer
10 November 1865, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Their first daughter, Mary Jane “Jennie” McWhirter was born 31 August 1865, in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. She married John Jacob Klapperich (1864-1943) in San Francisco, California, in 1887. Together they had two sons: Louis Henry Klapperich (1888-1947) and Milton S. Klapperich (1890-1891). She and John divorced sometime between 1900 and 1910.

Mary Jane McWhirter Birth RecordBirth Record for Mary Jane McWhirter, 31 August 1865
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Their first son, George Elbridge McWhirter was born 29 January 1867 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

So far, I’ve only been able to find  two  records for George. One is the 1880 Census for San Francisco, California, the other is the  Merced, California Voters Register in 1888, where he was employed as a printer.

George Elbredge McWhirter, Merced, California Voters Register 1888George Elbredge McWhirter, Merced County, California Voter Register
11 July 1888

Second son, Joseph Henry McWhirter was born 18 November 1869 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts and died 15 June 1872, at age 2 years 7 months, from scarlet fever. He is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Mattapan, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

Joseph Henry McWhirter death recordJoseph Henry McWhirter Death Record , 15 June 1872
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Second daughter, Etta Esther McWhirter was born 24 January 1872 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts and died 2 October 1875 at age 3 from diphtheria. She is also  buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery,  in Mattapan, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

Etta Esther McWhirter Death RecordEtta Esther McWhirter Death Record
2 January 1875, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Third son, Willis Joseph Baker McWhirter was born 1 September 1873 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. His WWI Draft Registration Card gives his description as: “Tall, medium build with blue eyes and gray hair”.

Willis Joseph McWhirter WWI Draft Registration Card 12 Sept 1918 Willis Joseph McWhirter WWI Draft Registration Card 12 Sept 1918 (2)Willis Joseph Baker McWhirter, WWI Draft Registration Card
12 September 1918, San Francisco, California

He married Bessie Lenore Grenfell (1876-1964) Stanislaus County California on 29 July 1908, where he worked as a building contractor.

Willis McWhirter died on 23 February 1942 in San Francisco, California. He and Bessie never had any children.

Fourth son and youngest child, Harry Samuel McWhirter, was born 15 October 1875 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

The 1910 U.S. Census records him as living in San Francisco, California, with his sister Mary Jane McWhirter Klapperich, working as a bricklayer.

He registered for the draft in WWI on 12 September 1918 in Atwater, Merced, California, where he worked as a farmer. His description is given as: “Tall, medium build with blue eyes and brown hair.

Harry Samuel McWhirter WWI Draft Registration Card 12 September 1918

Harry Samuel McWhirter WWI Draft Registration Card
12 September 1918, San Francisco, California

Thomas McWhirter Jr. died 12 September 1876 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, at age 41, just eleven years after he married Esther. Cause of death was listed as “intemperance”. He left behind his wife, Esther, and their 4 remaining children, Mary, George, Willis and Harry.

He also left her a bit of money. The following public record for Probate Court proceedings appeared in the Boston Journal.

Thomas McWhirter Jr_edited-1

Probate Court Record Notice for  Thomas McWhirter
(Boston Journal (Boston, MA) 26 September 1876, pg 2)

Thomas McWhirter Jr.  is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery,  in  Mattapan, Suffolk, Massachusetts. 

Mount Hope Cemetery, Boston, MassachusettsMt. Hope Cemetery, Mattapan, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Esther moved with the children to San Francisco, California, sometime between Thomas’ death in September of 1876 and 1 June 1880. The U.S. Federal Census for that year shows all 4 children living at home with Esther at: 31 Second Ave., San Francisco, California.

Esther Sherer McWhirter 1880 US Federal Census San Francisco, California1880 U.S. Federal Census, San Francisco, California
Taken: 1 June 1880

Esther Shearer McWhirter died 22 November 1885 in San Francisco, California. The following articles appeared in two local newspapers following her death.

Estsher Shearer McWhirter Obituary November 1885

Esther McWhirter, Mortuary Notice
(San Francisco Bulletin (San Francisco, CA)  23 November 1885, pg 3)

McWHIRTER–In this city, November 22, Esther, mother of Jennie and GeorgeMcWHIRTER, aged 46 years. Funeral to-day, at 1 p.m., from No. 31 Second avenue.”

Source: Daily Alta California, 24 November 1885.

celtic tree of life

Margaret McWhirter was born 21 September 1841 in County Tyrone, Ireland to Thomas McWhirter (1800-1867) and Eliza Jane Beatty (1800-?). She emigrated to the United States with her family sometime between 1841 and 1850. County Tyrone is located in Northern Ireland.


County Map of Ireland
(Tyrone County highlighted in yellow)


Sperrin Mountains, County Tyrone, Ireland photo by Edmond J.Sperrin Mountains, County Tyrone, Ireland
(Photo by Edmond J.)

When I began researching my McWhirter ancestors in Vermont back in 1993, one of the first people I came across was my 2nd great grand aunt, Margaret McWhirter (1841-1914).  Although I didn’t know how she was related to me,  I knew that she was. With so few people in Vermont with the last name McWhirter at that time, my theory was that they all had to be related somehow. As it turns out, I was right.

I first found Margaret on the 1850 U.S. Federal Census living with the William Simpson family in Burlington, Chittenden, Vermont. Also enumerated with this family was the Robert Clifford family.  In 2011 I discovered that Robert Clifford‘s (1821-1891) wife Agnes, was Maggie’s older sister,  Agnes McWhirter (1827-1898).

Margaret McWhirter (highlighted) 1850 Census Burlington, Chittenden, Vermont, United States1850 U.S. Federal Census for Burlington, Chittenden, Vermont
(Taken: 29 August 1850)

She married Archibald Stewart (1837-1926) on 26 July 1865 in Middlebury, Addison, Vermont. Place of birth given for Margaret was Tyrone County, Ireland.  This record was the first time I’d ever seen reference to where the McWhirter family might have originated in Ireland.

Archibald Stewart & Margaret McWhirter Marriage RecordMarriage Record for Margaret McWhirter & Archibald Stewart
26 July 1865

To this union were born seven children: Mary J. Stewart (1866-?), Charles H. Stewart (1867-1893), Elizabeth Stewart (1869-1934), Lillian Stewart (1876-1939), Margaret “Maggie” Stewart (1878-1937), Gertrude Stewart (1881-1965) and Archibald Stewart Jr. (1883-1955).

In  1880, the Archibald Stewart family was living in Winfield, Cowley, Kansas where Archibald was employed as a stone mason.

Archibald Stewart 1880 Census Winfield, Cowley, Kansas, United States1880 U.S. Federal Census for Winfield, Cowley, Kansas
(Taken: 2 June 1880)

In 1900 Census for Rutland, Rutland, Vermont, Margaret McWhirter Stewart is listed as married and as head of the household. Living with her at the time were her children, Margaret, Gertrude and Archibald Jr., as well as her daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Edgar Beardsley (1867-1940), and granddaughter Marguerite Beardsley (1898-1977). Her husband, Archibald Stewart Sr. was not in residence.

1900 United States Federal Census for Rutland, Rutland, Vermont, Taken, 9 June 1900  Margaret Stewart1900 U.S. Federal Census for Rutland, Rutland, Vermont
(Taken: 9 June 1900)

The following newspaper article appeared in the St. Albans Daily Messenger on 30 November 1903 regarding Archibald. It is not  clear what “home” is being referred to, but I’m guessing it was a care facility for Civil War Veterans.

Archibald Stewart Newspaper Article 1903 St. Albans (Vermont) Daily MessengerSt. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger, Date: 30 November 1903
{Newspaper Article courtesy of Charles Thomas)

Margaret McWhirter Stewart died 8 August 1914 in Rutland, Rutland, Vermont,  from heart disease.

Margaret McWhirter Stewart Death Certificate 1914Death Certificate for Margaret McWhirter Stewart
8 August 1914

Margaret McWhirter Stewart Obituary, Middlebury Register, Middlebury, Vermont, 14 Aug 1914, p4.Margaret McWhirter Stewart Obituary
From the Middlebury Register, Middlebury, Vermont, 14 Aug 1914, p4.
(Obituary courtesy of Charles Thomas)

Margaret’s  husband, Archibald Stewart, passed away 30 January 1926 in Rutland, Rutland, Vermont.  The following obituary appeared in the Rutland (Vermont) Daily Herald on 1 February 1926.

Funeral services for Archibald Stewart, 89, who died Saturday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Frank (Lillian) Pierce, 80 Church street, will be held at 3:30 o’clock this afternoon at Trinity Episcopal church.
Mr. Stewart is survived by five daughters, Mrs. Charles (Mary) Chappel of Salt Lake City, Utah, Deaconess Gertrude Stewart of Changsha, China, Mrs. Frank (Lillian) Pierce, Mrs. E.S. (Elizabeth) Beardsley and Mrs. Phillip (Margaret) Start of this city and by one son, Archibald Stewart, Jr., of New York. He also leaves eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Mr. Stewart was born in Roxham, Quebec, Canada, January 22, 1837 and received his education there. He was a member of Roberts Post, Grand Army of the Republic, Mt. Anthony lodge, F. and A.M., of Bennington and Trinity church. He served in company G, fifth Vermont volunteers during the Civil war.

Both Margaret and her husband Archibald are buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Rutland, Rutland, Vermont.

Margaret McWhirter & Archibald Stewart GravestoneMargaret McWhirter (Spelled MacWhirter on gravestone) & Archibald Stewart Gravestone
Evergreen Cemetery, Rutland, Rutland, Vermont
(Photo Courtesy of Jen Snoots)

celtic tree of life

My sister Dorothy sent me the program from our father’s funeral service. Thanks Dorothy. =)

John Weston Ramsell Memorial Service Program Cover

John Weston Ramsell Memorial Service Program 1970Program from funeral service of John Weston Ramsell

In Memory of
John Weston Ramsell

Sept 18, 1932, Los Angeles, Calif.

Passed Away
Nov. 8, 1970, San Gabriel, Calif.

Thursday, Nov. 12, 10:00 a.m.
Monterey Park Chapel


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints

Conducting: Bishop DeVere H. Anderson

Organist:Chester Gilgen

Vocal: “Not Now But In The Coming Years”

Valerie Chamberlain

Invocation: J. Lionel Harrison

Eulogy:Hugh Lomas

Speaker:Robert Pommerville

Speaker:Bishop DeVere H. Anderson

Vocal:“God Be With You Till We Meet Again”

Benediction: Barlow Hatch

Interment:Rose Hills Memorial Park

Dedication of Grave:Richard Greenwood

Directors:Lowell J. Campbell

Pierce Brothers Monterey Park Mortuary

John Weston Ramsell Memorial Service Program 1970 Pall BearersPall Bearers at funeral of John Weston Ramsell (1932-1970)
Don Hamilton, John Oster, James R. Johnson, Hugh Lomas, Phillip Zackrison, James Reiseiss

For Dorothy…

celtic tree of life

I recently attended a memorial service in Southern California for Susan Patricia Zane (1942-2013). Susan and my father, John Weston Ramsell (1932-1970) met while working together at Sav-on Drug store  in Alhambra, California in 1968. They began a relationship and in the Spring of 1970, Susan gave birth to a beautiful baby girl that they named Dorothy.  My father died in November of that same year when Dorothy was just 8 months old.

Dorothy Zane Ramsell & Susan Patricia Zane 1972Adorable Dorothy & Susan
San Pedro, California, 1972


Susan Patricia Zane was born 29 June 1942 in Los Angeles, California, to Henry Elmer Zane (1915-1993) and Dorothy Gladys MacDonald (1915-2002).  She died  17 September 2013 in Moapa, Clark, Nevada.

Susan Zane c 1947Susan Patricia Zane c 1947
Los Angeles, California

Susan Patricia Zane Senior Picture c 1960Susan Patricia Zane, Senior Picture c 1960
San Pedro, California

Susan Patricia Zane c1970Susan Patricia Zane c 1970
Los Angeles, California

The following is a transcription of the eulogy given for Susan Zane Lehman by her daughter, Dorothy  Rossiter.

There is this poem I’d like to read that my mom really loved.

“Who Has Seen the Wind?”

by Christina Georgina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you: (chokes up)
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing thro’.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

When I was a child, my mom had a rule that we all had to learn this poem, and recite it as I just did, before we sat down to eat dinner.

I have many memories of my mom, and I’ll share just a few.

My mom was unique, she was kind, she was different. Many people have contacted me in the past few weeks
letting me know how they felt about her. Their comments have ranged from, “She was like family” to, “She was like a second mom to me”, to “She was the funniest person I knew.”

It hasn’t been easy since she’s been gone, but it has been very comforting to me to hear all of those things that others
have said about of her since her death. It’s always nice to hear that someone you loved is going to be remembered fondly and with love and laughter when they are gone. What makes it even more special for me, and my dad (Eddie Lehman) and my daughter (Bernie Rossiter) is that people around the country are going to remember her this way.

Susan Zane Lehman was a woman who loved to laugh, loved to make others laugh and always loved to hear a good story. And even more loved to take part in the making of a good story. Many of my friends from high school and my childhood have sent me messages with stories they had about her picking them up from school, and paying for them to get into football games because they couldn’t afford to go. Others reminded me of the funny things that she had said. Many of my moms oldest friends had sent many thoughts and memories to me. All of the things I grew up listening to, but it was really nice to hear them again just the same.

I can’t share all of my memories, but I’ll share just these few.

When I was a small child my mother would make dinner and wrap our plates in foil and we’d drive down to Royal Palms and eat our dinner. And she would make popcorn, or tear up a loaf of bread and set it on the hood of our car, and we would watch the seagulls eat while we had our dinner. For those of you who don’t know my mom very well, she was terrified of birds. So this was a huge thing for her to do, but she knew I enjoyed it, so we would go and do it, and we would watch the seagulls until we were done eating.

She would wake me up when the Goodyear Blimp was going overhead so I could go out and watch it.

She loved to take me to Marine Land, when it still existed, after school,  so that I could go and pet the dolphins.

One year when I was in elementary school here, she volunteered to help with the school Halloween Carnival. And when it came around, she didn’t have time to get a costume. So she went to Sav-on and got herself one that she thought was quite clever.  It was an inflatable pumpkin tied to the top of her head, and it came with green face paint, and she painted her face green, so she was a pumpkin…..head. So she had this inflated pumpkin on her head, and paint on her face all day, and was sweating because it was warm. And then, when we went home that night, she couldn’t get the green face paint off.  So she was green for a couple of days.  But she was there, and had been part of that activity with me.

She was a kind, loving and caring person. She taught me to give to others, even when you don’t have anything to give. She taught me that it doesn’t matter who you love, as long as you love them. She was a liberal before being liberal was cool. She didn’t care about how you lived or who you loved, she only cared about how you treated others. She loved her family and her friends, sometimes to a fault.

She has been married to my dad (Eddie Lehman) for 29 years. For all of those years they took care of each other and loved each other through it all. She always knew Eddie was there for her, especially these last few years.

Bernie, my daughter, was the light of her life. She was absolutely the most important person in my mom’s life, from the day she was born. My mom would have done anything for her, and many times, she did.

Susan Angel Bernadette RossiterBernie
9 November 2013

Susan Zane

Susan Zane3Program from Memorial Service for Susan Zane Lehman
9 November 2013

San Pedro, California

Susan Zane Lehman Obituary September 2013Obituary for Susan Zane Lehman (1942-2013)


My sons have been asking me to post old family photos of their paternal grandparents, and, since I am all about wish fulfillment….

Here you go boys.  =))

My mother in law, Judy Ann Young (1942-2005), started out as an exceedingly adorable (and apparently very serious) baby.  She was born 2 October 1942 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Seth Hagman Young (1914-1998) & Lois Oldham (1918-2003)

 Judy1Judy Ann Young c 1942
Salt Lake City, Utah

Ok…maybe not so serious.

Judy0006Roger Young & Judy Ann Young c 1944
Salt Lake City, Utah

Judy0004Judy Ann Young c 1944
Salt Lake City, Utah

Judy makes the headlines.

Child Falls Under Car But Comes Up Unhurt

Blue eyed, blond Judy Ann Young, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Seth Young, 1556 5th East, Saturday said she has a desire to be a movie stunt woman-“cause I know”.   With her brother Roger and other playmates, the girl was playing beside a store near her home Friday evening. A car suddenly drove in the parking lot. Judy’s friends shouted warning but she lost her balance and fell.   The front of the car passed over the prostrate child, the wheel miraculously missing her body.   Roger raced home and told his mother. Mrs Young rushed to the scene, found her child lying on the cars back seat recovering from shock.

Judy0015Salt Lake Tribune and Telegram c 1947

She went from adorable baby to femme fatale in about 16 years.

Ok...wowJudy Ann Young c 1958
On the beach in southern California

And so the Halversen family addiction to Disneyland  begins….

Judy0235Mickey Mouse & Judy Ann Young @ Disneyland c 1958
Anaheim, California

 And then they meet…

Brent & Judy 2Judy Ann Young & Brent S. Halversen c 1961
Salt Lake City, Utah

Judy0031Judy Ann Young & Brent S. Halversen Engagement Picture
1961 Salt Lake City, Utah

Judy0029Judy Young Halversen & Brent S. Halversen
Wedding Day

21 September 1961,  Salt Lake City, Utah


Judy002721 September 1961
Salt Lake City, Utah

This last photo is one of my favorites of Judy.  Mom loved spending time with her children and grandchildren, and provided many opportunities for us to come together as a family and play.

I can’t remember the occasion when this photo was taken, but I absolutely love her smile here. This is how I remember her. Young and beautiful and full of fun.

Judy0137Jael, Judy & Scott Halversen

I Stalk Dead People….

Stalking the Dead

A grade school teacher once asked my son, “What does your mom do?” He replied; “She stalks dead people.” Certainly not your typical response. It took the teacher a minute to figure out what he meant by that.

My most recent “stalking victim” has been my paternal grandfather, Grover Weston Ramsell. He was born 5 December 1884 in Cornish, York, Maine, and died 28 June 1949,  in Los Angeles, California, at age 64, The picture below is the only one I’ve ever seen of him.

Grover Weston Ramsell head shotGrover Weston “Wes” Ramsell c 1938

His early life has always been a bit of a mystery, beginning with his parentage. In May of 1942 (at age 57), my grandfather sent for a copy of his birth certificate. He received the following notarized document back from Florence B. Watkins, Town Clerk in Cornish, Maine .

Grover Weston Ramsell Birth CertificateGrover Weston Ramsell  Birth Certificate

I found it interesting that the birth information was obtained, not from an original birth record, but rather from a sworn affidavit given by a man named John L. Woodbury, who was of no relation to the family.  As it turns out, John L. Woodbury was a neighbor of Grover’s paternal uncle, John Ramsell, in Cornish, Maine back in 1884, the year of his birth.

The  document lists as the parents of Grover Weston Ramsell, Weston Ramsell, a barber by trade, and Lillian B. Decker, a housewife, both born in Maine . It also says that they lived in Cornish at that time. I can find no record of their marriage, or of them ever having lived together in Cornish, or anywhere else.
The only record I could find for Weston Ramsell, other than Grover’s birth record, was on the 1860 Census for Cornish, York , Maine . He was 7 years old and living with his parents, Ira Ramsell (1830-1880) and Martha Wentworth Ramsell (1810-?), and four older siblings.  His birth date in 1852 would have made him age 33 at the time of my grandfather’s birth.

Weston Ramsell 1860 Census 15 June 1860 Cornish, York, Maine

1860 Census Cornish, York, Maine, United States
Taken: 15 June 1860


The only Lillian Decker I could find, born in Maine, was a Florence  Lillian Decker born 3 January 1871, in Clinton, Kennebec, Maine.  If she is the correct Lillian Decker,  then she would have been 13 years old (just one month shy of her 14th birthday) at the time of my grandfather’s birth in December of 1884.

I have no actual evidence as to where my grandfather lived during the years between his birth and June of 1900.  I remember hearing somewhere that he lived with his paternal uncle, John Ramsell (1845-1891) and his wife, Juliana Hennessey Ramsell (1853-1932), when he was a little boy.  His uncle John died in July of 1891 when Grover  was just 6 years old. If he did live with them, it would explain how the neighbor might have known who his biological parents were.

On the U.S. Federal Census dated 2 June 1900, Grover, age 15, is living with the Edwin Ridlon family, in Porter Town, Oxford, Maine. He is listed as a boarder and was attending school. As far as I know, Grover was not related to this family and have no idea how he would have come to live with them.

Grover Weston Ramsell 1900 United States Federal Census1900 U.S. Federal Census Porter Town, York, Maine, taken  2 June 1900

The Ridlon family consisted of:  father, Edwin Ridlon age 38, mother, Minnie Hodge Ridlon age 34, son. Sidney H. Ridlon age 15, and daughter, Elsie Mae Ridlon age 13, who was two years younger than Grover.  I thought it was of particular note that my grandfather named his oldest child and first daughter, Elsie Mae.

Grover Weston Ramsell 1900 United States Federal Census1900 U.S. Federal Census Porter Town, York, Maine, taken  2 June 1900

On 27 June 1906, my grandfather, recorded here as G. Weston Ramsell, married Harriet Thomas (1884-1970) in Portland, Cumberland, Maine. His occupation at the time was in shipping. From this record forward, my grandfather went by a short version of his middle name Weston, “Wes”.

G. Weston Ramsell & Harriet Thomas Marriage RecordG. Weston Ramsell & Harriet Thomas Marriage Record pg #1
27 June 1906

On the second page of the marriage record, Wes lists his parents as Weston Ramsell and Lillian Davis (not Decker, hmmm…), and states that they are both deceased.

Grover Weston Ramsell & Harriet Thomas Marriage Record pg #2 G. Weston Ramsell & Harriet Thomas Marriage Record pg #2
27 June 1906

On 20 October 1906 Wes and Harriet welcomed their first child, Elsie Mae Ramsell, born just 4 months after they were married.

Elsie Mae Ramsell Birth Record 20 October 1906Elsie Mae Ramsell Birth Record 20 October 1906, South Portland, Cumberland, Maine

The  1910 Census shows the Ramsell family address as 49 Douglass St., Libbytown, Portland, Cumberland, Maine. The following picture is of the “triplex” that they lived in. It was a three family dwelling (one family per floor) with the Ramsell family living on the top floor. Their rent per month was $26.00.

 The triplex was built in 1906, and was owned by John H. Rich in 1924. An appraisal report from 1924 (which I found totally fascinating) estimated the value of the property at $4834. It was reported to be in:

Fair condition, with a clapboard exterior,  flat gravel roof, block foundation, full cement basement, steam heating, open plumbing, set tubs, hardwood floors, plain glass windows and plaster ceilings.

And…..wait for it…

49 Douglass St., (2) Portland, Maine, United States47-49 Douglass St., Portland, Cumberland, Maine c 1924

….the building is still standing! Looks pretty good for 107!

49 Douglass St47-49 Douglass St., Libbytown, Portland, Cumberland, Maine c 2013

Wes and Harriet welcomed their second daughter, Helen Ramsell born 4 April 1912, in Portland, Maine. Not long after Helen was born, Wes and Harriet split up. In a city directory for Portland, Maine, dated 1913, Wes is recorded as  living by himself at 49 Brown Street.

By 1915 my grandfather had moved to Los Angeles, California.

On his WWI Draft Registration card, dated 12 September 1918, Wes listed his wife’s name as “Mrs. Annie (Annette Misner) Ramsell”, when in fact they weren’t married until July of the following year.

G Weston Ramsell WWI Draft Registration Card

Grover Weston Ramsell WWI Draft Registration Card pg#2G. Weston Ramsell WWI Draft Registration Card 12 September 1918

My grandfather indicated, on the below marriage certificate to Annette, that this was the first tine he’d ever been married.  I discovered later that my father and his siblings, and possibly my grandmother Annette, never knew about Wes’ first wife and children.

Grover Weston Ramsell & Annette Marie Misner Marriage RecordG. Weston Ramsell & Annette “Annie” Marie Misner Marriage Certificate 21 July 1919, Los Angeles, California

Wes and Annette went on to have five children;

Roy Gerald RamsellRoy Gerald Ramsell

Jean Irene Ramsell

Jean Irene Ramsell(1925-2011)

Ruth M. RamsellRuth M. Ramsell

Irene RamsellIrene Catherine Ramsell

John Weston Ramsell c1953John Weston Ramsell

My grandfather, Grover Weston Ramsell died on 28 June 1949, in Los Angeles, California. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, California.

Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, California Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, California

celtic tree of life

While going through some old e-mails from my cousin, George Bosmajian, I found another of my grandmother’s (Edith Mary Coons) letters. This one is to her aunt,  Edith Coons White.

In it she mentions the birth of her latest grandchild, Mary Theresa. And it just so happens that this Thursday, September 26th, is the anniversary of Mary’s birth!

happy birthday bear

So Happy Birthday to my favorite sister!!!….named Mary!! =D  You’re one of the kindest, most loving people I’ve ever known. And one day, if I ever decide grow up, I hope to be half as amazing as you.

Love you Mare. =)

Dear Aunt Edith,

Forgive my having been remiss in not writing to you. Many things have happened in the past year. Opal’s husband died in March, and my husband is a semi-invalid. I have gone back seriously into my profession, and have forty piano students, and I am the Minister of Music at Marengo Ave. Methodist Church here. I have four choirs, and of course all the incidental affairs that go along with the job.

We have acquired a lovely new granddaughter, Mary Theresa, born September 26th of this year. This makes five grandchildren, and all of them lovely.

Beverly Barrett Ramsell, Roberta Ramsell, Annette Misner Ramsell, On Laps l-r Mary Ramesll, Kathie Ramsell, Anne Ramsell c1958 Los Angeles, CAOn Laps l-r: Mary Ramsell (looking seriously unhappy) Kathie Ramsell, Anne Ramsell
Back row l-r: Beverly Barrett Ramsell, Roberta Ramsell, Annette Misner Ramsell


We have a new address too as you will see by my card. I thought you might enjoy having one.

It was nice to hear from you, and I’ll try to improve my ways in the future.



Nanas Letter to her Aunt EdithLetter written by Edith Coons Barrett to her aunt, Edith Coons White

celtic tree of life

My maternal grandmother Edith Mary Coons, was born 2 June 1909 in Boulder, Colorado. She was the oldest daughter of Marshall H. Coons (1872-1915) and Julia Etta Wellman Coons (1882-1955)

Julia Etta Wellman & Marshall Hartwell Coons Wedding PhotoJulia Etta “Etta” Wellman & Marshall H. Coons
Wedding Day, 15 June 1907
Sydney, Nebraska
(Photo courtesy of George Bosmajian)

Marshall Hartwell Coons, Matilda Weston Perry Coon, Edith Mary CoonsEdith Mary Coons, Marshall Hartwell Coons & Matilda Perry Coons
Fall 1909, Boulder, Colorado
(Photo courtesy of George Bosmajian)

Nana, as we called her, had black curly hair, blue eyes, very fair skin, and a petite build. She passed away on 11 March 1967 in Los Angeles, California, at age 57, from ovarian cancer.

Edith Mary Coons BarrettEdith Coons Barrett c 1936
San Gabriel, California
(Photo courtesy of Mary Hardaway Eylar)

One of things I love best about doing family history research, is when I come across personal letters written by my ancestors. The letters often give invaluable insight into the personality and life of the writer.

Edith Upton Coons White, who was my grandmother’s paternal aunt, passed away on 20 January 1965. Upon going through her personal belongings, Edith’s daughter, Mabel White Bosmajian, came across a photograph of Nana’s father, Marshall H. Coons, and sent it to her.

Edith Upton CoonsEdith Upton Coons White c 1920
Kelso, Missouri
(Photo courtesy of George Bosmajian)

Mabel White BosmajianMabel White Bosmajian c 1919
Fresno, California
(Photo courtesy of George Bosmajian)

The following is a transcription of a letter written by Nana to her cousin, Mabel White Bosmajian, thanking her for the picture. This is what my mother would have called a “wonderfully newsy letter”. There is a bit of family history information, along with the current events in my grandmother’s life.

Sunday, February 21, 1965

My Dear Mabel,

Are you always so prompt in arranging to do things for someone else? I think it especially thoughtful of you to send along the pictures, when I’m sure you must have many things to attend to at this time.

This is the first time I’ve have ever had any concept of my fathers appearance, for we found nothing among mothers things. I have a small New Testament that was hers, and in it was the place of my fathers birth, but that was all.

Also, my birth certificate showed the same thing, but my name is Edith Mary. I don’t know what became of “Floretta” which was in the birth announcement. (In 1910 Census, my grandmother’s name was listed as “Floretta E.” Coons. At some point they obviously decided to change her name.)

I’m going to see if the small picture can be enlarged, and if it can, I shall make one for you if you would like it.

Marshall Hartwell Coons with guitarMarshall Hartwell Coons c 1900
Rapid City, South Dakota
(Photo courtesy of George Bosmajian)

As I remember, you have a family near you, don’t you? It seems to me that mother told me something about them, but the details are gone from my mind. I’d love to learn of them, and your grandchildren, if you have some. Does Amy (Mabel’s sister) have a family? Gracious, what a lot of catching up to do.

Now, about my family. My husband has been a semi-invalid for the past ten years, but is better now than he has been for some time. We have one daughter, Beverly Jean, who lives in La Puente, which is about twenty miles east of here. I think she became involved in the population explosion, for she has a family of eight, 4 boys and 4 girls! The oldest boy has red hair. The next one, also a boy, has my coloring (black curly hair and very fair skin) and the rest are assorted blondes and brunettes. I will send you some pictures in the near future.

Red is going into technical high school next fall to pursue his interest in things mechanical, and the rest are too young to have found themselves yet. They are a wonderful family and we enjoy them in small sessions. I think I’m getting beyond the age to handle that many at once.

I handle 85 a week in my studio (she was a piano teacher) but I have them one at a time! I love my work and have the largest class in the valley.

I’m sure you know that Opal had two sons, one of whom is a doctor in Kansas City, and the other lives in Phoenix. I’m not just sure what he is doing there, a retail business of some kind I think. He married a girl with three little ones, and they’ve added two of their own. Dr. Glenn is not yet married.

It seems reasonable to believe that you have something to do besides read, so I will close this for now. I do hope to meet you and Amy in the near future.



Edith Coons Barrett Letter to her cousin Mabel White Bosmajian pg#1

Edith Coons Barrett Letter to her cousin Mabel White Bosmajian pg#2

Edith Coons Barrett Letter to her cousin Mabel White Bosmajian pg#3Letter written by Edith Coons Barrett to her cousin, Mabel White Bosmajian
21 February 1965
(Copy of letter courtesy of George Bosmajian)

My great grandfather, Marshall H. Coons, disappeared sometime after 1915, leaving behind his wife Etta and two young daughters, Edith age 5, and Opal age 4. The last record I have for him is documentation of his honorable discharge from the Army on 29 January 1915. I have not yet been able to find a death record for him.

Marshall Hartwell Coons military photoMarshall Hartwell Coons c 1912
(Photo courtesy of George Bosmajian)

Marshall Rachel Hartwell Coons Army Enlistment Roster 1912-1915 (3)Register of Enlistment, United States Army 1912-1916
(Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com)

Transcription of above record:

Name: Coons, Marshall H.
Enlisted: 30 June 1912 
Where: Ft. Logan, Colorado
Where Born: Olney, Illinois
Age: 39
Occupation: Cement Worker
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Dk. Brown
Complexion: Dark
Height: 5′ 8 1/2″
Regiment: Infantry 11 Co. M
Number of Enlistment: 2nd
Last Service
Regiment: Cavalry Co. 26
Date of Discharge: 26 April 1906
Honorable Discharge: 29 January 1915

celtic tree of life

My father, John Weston Ramsell, was born 18 September 1932 in Los Angeles, California. He was the youngest of five children born to Grover Weston Ramsell (1884-1949) and Annette Marie Misner (1884-1967). He passed away 7 November 1970 in Alhambra, California, at age 38.

This coming Wednesday is the anniversary of what would have been his 81st birthday.

As I’ve stated previously, I don’t have many memories of my father since he died when I was so young. What I do have, are a few pictures, vital records and memorabilia, that document his all too brief life in this world.

My father was born into what  would have then been considered a relatively small, Irish Catholic family.

This first document is his certificate of baptism, which was performed on 9 October 1932, at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Hollywood, California.

John Weston Ramsell Baptismal Certificate 1932Dad’s Baptismal Certificate, 9 October 1932

My father’s maternal uncle, Paul Bergan Misner, was a Bishop in the Catholic church.  He spent many years serving in that capacity at a mission in China. The following is a transcript of a letter written by him to my father on the occasion of his birth. From the content of this letter I’m guessing my dad was a rather large baby. I absolutely love his uncle Paul’s sense of humor. =)

Catholic Mission
Linshwan, Kia nagi, China
24 October 1932

Dear Sir:

I have just received a long distance introduction to you, and I hasten to write, in order that we may become better acquainted.

According to the various descriptons furnished me, I cannot quite make out whether you are contemplating the acquisition of the heavyweight pugilistic championship of the world, the comissionership of police in Los Angeles, or the succession to Al Capone’s throne. Each of these has its advantages, from a material standpoint, but the outlook for the repeal of Prohibition Law, seems to make the last the least desirable of all.

I have known your father and mother for a few years, and if you inherit any of her characteristics, the heavyweight championship should be of easy acquisition. With your father’s coaching, you should soon be able to take all comers. As a first tryout, I would suggest a bout with Irene. (Dad’s sister who was age 4) If you can hold your own with her, there should be some promise. Then try Jean (Dad’s other sister who was age 6 ) but even if you do seem to have a little success in the first encounter, insist on a return bout, as she is an in-and-out fighter, and perhaps on the first occasion she may not feel like fighting, and so you can tell nothing from the results of the first fight. Once that obstacle is passed, you can try the harder succession of Ruth (another sister age 8) and Roy. (Dad’s only brother, age 9) If you can vanquish them, your future is assured. Let it be a fair fight and no quarter.

Your mother and father may try to interfere with your laudable ambition to conquer, but don’t let that disturb you. Keep a stiff upper lip, and go your way undisturbed. Little by little, all opposition will be overcome.

Give my regards to your parents, and tell them that I am backing you with my fortune as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Your uncle,


Reverend Paul Bergan MisnerReverend Paul Bergan Misner c 1930

John Weston Ramsell Letter from his Uncle Paul Bergan Misner at his birthA letter written to John Weston Ramsell on the occasion of his birth from his uncle, Paul Bergan Misner, on 24 October 1932.

This next photo is of my dad and his father, Grover Weston Ramsell taken around 1938. My grandfather, who went by “Wes”, died in June of 1949, two months before my dad’s 17th birthday. It is the only picture I’ve ever seen of my grandfather Ramsell.

Grover Weston Ramsell & John Weston Ramsell c 1938John Weston Ramsell with his father, Wes Ramsell c 1938
(Photo courtesy of Jean Ramsell Brandenburg)

John Weston Ramsell c 1944John Weston Ramsell c 1944
(Photo courtesy of Jean Ramsell Brandenburg)

John Weston Ramsell c1948John Weston Ramsell c 1948
(Photo courtesy of Jean Ramsell Brandenburg)

John Weston Ramsell High School Diploma, Alhambra HS, Alhambra, CaliforniaJohn Weston Ramsell, High School Diploma, Alhambra High School
14 June 1951

Dad entered the military on 9 January 1952, as part of the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was honorably discharged 16 May 1953. He served as a First Aid Attendant at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Corona, California. Dad’s physical description is listed as: blonde hair, blue eyes 71″ tall (5′ 11″) and he weighed 160 lbs.

John Weston Ramsell U.S. Navy CertJohn W. Ramsell Certificate of Course Completion for Naval Reserves
14 April 1951

John Weston Ramsell Military Service Separation Papers 1953Report of Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States Department of U.S.Navy

John Weston Ramsell c1953John Weston Ramsell c 1953

My parents met at the doughnut shop where my mother worked as a cashier. They were married on 14 March 1957 in Pasadena, California.

John Weston Ramsell & Beverly Barrett Marriage CertificateJohn Weston Ramsell & Beverly Jean Barrett Smith,  Marriage Certificate

This picture was taken in Alhambra, California, at the home of my maternal grandparents, Charles and Edith Barrett.

Beverly Jean Barrett & John Weston Ramsell c1960  Beverly Jean Barrett & John Weston Ramsell c 1960

John Weston Ramsell c1970John Weston Ramsell  c 1969

 My father worked as an assistant manager at the Sav-On Drug Store located at Valley Boulevard and New Avenue in Alhambra, California, from 1964 until his death in 1970. My parents divorced when I was about 4, and while my older siblings went to live with my father, I stayed behind and lived with my mother. I didn’t get to see my dad very often, so my uncle would occasionally take me to visit him at work when he was on a break.

One Sunday evening, while I was visiting my dad at work, a fire had broken out in the stock room upstairs at the store.  While attempting to extinguish the fire before it spread to the rest of the building, my father lost his life.

It’s funny the things you remember when something like that happens. I remember I had been sitting at a table, playing with the paper dolls my dad had just bought for me,  eating an ice cream cone. Then I remember fire alarms going off and my dad hustling me outside and telling me to wait for him “right here” on the sidewalk in front of the store, and promising me he’d “be right back.” But he never made it.

There were huge plate glass windows all across the front of the store and all I could see when I looked through them was gray smoke from floor to ceiling. Then there were fire fighters and fire trucks with flashing lights everywhere, and so much water and even more smoke. I remember how kind the fire fighters were that night to a terrified six year old girl, and their continued kindness to my family in the weeks and months that followed.

The following article appeared in the Alhambra Post Advocate Newspaper around 10 November 1970.


Monterey Park

Firemen in two cities are helping see to it that the children of a Monterey Park man, who was killed while fighting a fire in Alhambra last week, will have a chance to go to college.

The fire victim, John Ramsell, 38, of 920 East Newmark Ave., was assistant manager at the Sav-on drug store 1485 E. Valley Blvd. He died from smoke inhalation while trying to extinguish a fire which resulted in some $25,000 damage there Nov 8.

The fund drive is being spearheaded by Sav-on’s area ___ office in Marina Del Ray, and the Alhambra and Monterey Park Firemen’s Association, to help assure the children of a college education. Contributions to this fund can be made at any fire station in Alhambra or Monterey Park or at the Alhambra Sav-on Drug Store.

In addition, the women’s auxiliary of the Alhambra Firemen’s Association, is planning a “Christmas Cheer Basket” sale. Tickets are available at $1 each from the Alhambra headquarters fire station, 301 N. First St., or from Mrs. Ralph Caputo 448-7276, or Mrs. Robert Childers, 448-4392. All proceeds from the sale go to the Ramsell fund, an auxiliary explained.

A fire official said, to his recollection, Mr. Ramsell is the first non-fireman to give his life while fighting a fire in Alhambra.

The Ramsells were married in June of 1969. They have been active in the Monterey Park Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Ramsell was a life long resident of the San Gabriel Valley. As a youth he worked at what was then the Kennedy Pharmacy in Alhambra. He was graduated from Alhambra High School and later served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps.

He had been employed by Sav-on for the past six years, and was at the Alhambra store all that time.

John Weston Ramsell Newspaper Article about his death 1970These news paper articles appeared in the Alhambra Post Advocate Newspaper in November of 1970, regarding my father’s death.

I wasn’t allowed to attend my fathers funeral because my mother felt I was too young to handle it. I had never even been to visit my  father’s grave-site until a few years ago. Being there turned out to be an incredibly emotional experience for me. He  had been dead for over 30  years, but kneeling  at his grave that very first  time, it felt to me as if it had just happened, and I couldn’t stop crying.

John Weston Ramsell Gravestone Whittier, CaliforniaJohn Weston Ramsell grave marker at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier, California.
(Photo courtesy of Louis Mata)

celtic tree of life heart

My brother, Paul Weston Ramsell, was born 24 January 1957, in Los Angeles, California. He died 7 September 2004, in Monroe, Pennsylvania.  Yesterday marked the 9th anniversary of his passing. He is greatly missed.

090813_1401_PaulWestonR1.jpgPaul W. Ramsell
c 1961

Ramsell, Paul Weston 1976Paul W. Ramsell
1975, Baldwin Park, California

1975, South Carolina, Columbia Mission

Ramsell, Paul and Jeannette, Frances Wedding AnnouncementPaul & Fran Ramsell
6 April 1978, Los Angeles, California

Pauline&FranPaul & Frannie
(The beautiful long red hair belongs to our niece, Larisa Ramsell, who is hiding behind Paul in this photo, =))

Ramsell, James Weston, Ron, Ramsell, Paul WestonPaul with his sons, James & Ron

Paul & Jeannie Aug 2004Paul & me at our nephew Bodie’s wedding
21 August 2004, St. George, Utah

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