Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hallowe'en Pleasures! Bobbing for apples.

   Hallowe'en Pleasures
Of all the fun and
merry jest,
To bob for apples,
is the best.

Circa 1912
SOURCE: public domain

I just love these olde post cards. Funny and sweet!

Happy Hallowe'en!

Cross your fingers
At the Witching Hour;
Over Fates and Fortunes
The Moon will give you

Circa 1910
SOURCE: public domain

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Snowflake Man and his Ice Flowers

SOURCE: public domain clipart

Well that was fun! I've always included snowflakes in my Christmas decorations So how can I resist finding out more about Wilson Alywn Bentley?

There is The Snowflake Bentley Museum in his hometown of Jericho, Vermont. Includes an exhibit of his work and a gift shop with books and "snowflake jewellery."

There is also a short documentary by Chuck Smith about Wilson Alywn Bentley. It captures the magic of his childhood dreams and the passion for his life's work of the study of "ice flowers." I see the elderly woman, a family friend, being interviewed is wearing snowflake earrings! Really takes one back to his era.

Now I can't wait for the next snowfall. That could be quite a while since I live on the balmy West coast.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mystery Monday ~ The Snowflake Man and His Ice Flowers!

This feels like a Magical Mystery! Yesterday I posted the photograph of the photographer. I had no way of identifying who he was, since there was no information given on the site. It was included in the section of the NOAA, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

I was curious about that and searched that site for other photographers but found none.

Today, I did a search for 19th Century photographers and antique cameras. Eventually ended up on I couldn't believe my eyes when I found a photograph of the same man.

Something magical about that!!

I think that someone may have added the snowflake images in the left and right corners of the photo below.

Wilson Alywn Bentley "The Snowflake Man"

"No two snowflakes are alike."
Wilson Alywn Bentley's "Ice Flowers" - c. 1902

He is Wilson Alywn Bentley, born 9th February 1865 in Jericho, Vermont. 

As a teenager, he became fascinated with snowflakes. His mother, a teacher, gave him a old microscope which he used to examine the images and then attempt to draw them before they melted. What fun!

Some time a little later he acquired a camera and set about to modify it so he could photograph snowflakes.

He was a farmer, a bachelor and his hobby was photographing snowflakes. He is the first person to photograph a snowflake. He used a black velvet tray to catch the snowflakes. Then a feather to pick out the one that he wanted to magnify and photograph. Amazing!

This became his lifelong passion. His family thought his hobby was a waste of time, but he eventually became famous for his unusual hobby. He went on to publish his work, including an article, 'The Magic Beauty of Snow and Dew', National Geographic (January 1923). He would photograph over 5000 snowflake images in his lifetime.

I see that in 1931, he also worked on a joint project with William J. Humphries of the US Weather Bureau to publish Snow Crystals, which included some 2500 photographs of snowflakes. (Presumably this is why his photograph is included in the NOAA images at

Ironically, he caught pneumonia walking home in a snowstorm and died a few days later, at age 66, on 23 December 1931.

I'm awestruck. Now I'll always think of snowflakes as "Ice Flowers!"

Apparently his photographs were of such high quality, that no one else attempted to photograph snowflakes for another 100 years.

To view a more detailed biography of Wilson A. Bentley. his work and his famous snowflakes, go to the site below:


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sentimental Sunday ~ Photograph of a Photographer

Monday 25th October 2010 - Update. I found out who this photographer is. Read the details above for this remarkable man, Wilson Alywn Bentley who was born 9th February 1865 in Jericho, Vermont and died 23 December 1931, aged 66 years, at his home in Jericho, Vermont.


Sunday 24th October 2010 - I found this fantastic old photograph of a photographer!

Update: When I first posted this image, I thought that this gentleman was a portrait photographer. However, the next day my research resulted in finding other photographs of him on along with his biography.

Wilson Alywn Bentley - "The Snowflake Man"
"No two snowflakes are alike."
(SOURCE: found his name and biography on

UPDATE: What I know now is that Wilson is catching snowflakes on a tray covered with black velvet. On the stand behind him would be his microscope where he places the snowflake on a glass plate to photograph it.


SOURCE: I had no way of identifying who he was. There was no caption or identification given on the site. The photograph was included in the section of the NOAA, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I found out that Benley did a project with a member of the US Weather Bureau which is probably why the photo was included with other NOAA images.
SOURCE: (public domain)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Surname Saturday ~ MILLER

Several years ago I asked my Mom to tell me what she remembered about my Dad's family. He died 8th January 1970. She told me that his mother, Ada May MILLER, was the eldest of ten children. However, two of those children had died at a young age. She gave me these names: Elmy, George, Edgar, Roy, Harvey, Effie, Oretha and two youngsters that had died.

Well, she right, in a way. There were actually thirteen children, three of which had died at a young age.

MARY C. age 3 years 6 months, died 24 January 1894
JOHN A. age 2 years 8 months, died 12 December 1894
ORA W. 4 years 3 months, died 26 January 1894

Mary Catherine MILLER was born 02 August 1890 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died 24 January 1894 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas
John Alvin MILLER was born 27 March 1892 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died 12 December 1894 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas
Ora William MILLER was born 04 November 1889 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died 26 January 1894 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas

Tragically little Mary Catherine and Ora William died within two days of each other.  Perhaps from an infectious disease. All three of the children died in 1894.

The results of some of my research are shown below.

1. William Howard MILLER was born 09 January 1859 in
Somerset County, Pennsylvania and died 14 March 1930.
He married Sarah BEEGHLY 12 March 1862 in Maryland.
She was born 12 March 1862 in Maryland and died
17 July 1943 in Kansas, daughter of Josiah BEEGHLY
and Sarah HORNER.

Other events in the life of William Howard MILLER
in Rock Creek Cemetery, Sabetha,
Nemaha County, Kansas
Children of William Howard MILLER and Sarah BEEGHLY:
  i.  2.  Ada May MILLER was born 28 April 1883 in
Accident, Garrett County, Maryland and died
06 August 1958 in Milden, Saskatchewan
  ii.  3.  Harvey Ernest MILLER was born 04 June 1971
in Accident, Garrett County, Maryland and
died 06 November 1971
  iii.  4.  Milton Earl MILLER was born 20 September 1885
in Eglon, Preston, West Virginia and died
02 Sepember 1954
  iv.    Roy Clell MILLER was born 12 June 1887 in
Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died
15 January 1945
  v.  5.  George Aaron MILLER was born 10 January 1889
in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas
  vi.    Mary Catherine MILLER was born 02 August 1890
in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died
24 January 1894 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas
  vii.    John Alvin MILLER was born 27 March 1892 in
Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died
12 December 1894 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas
  viii.    Ora William MILLER was born 04 November 1889
in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died
26 January 1894 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas
  ix.    Elmie Florence MILLER was born October 1895
in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died
17 April 1973
  x.    Edgar Jay MILLER was born 03 July 1898 in
Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died
26 June 1953
  xi.  6.  Effie Dayne MILLER was born 04 May 1900
 in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and
 died Januaary 1984
  xii.  7.  Lola Delta MILLER was born 25 August 1901
in Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas and died
14 January 1947
  xiii.  8.  Oretha Sarah MILLER was born 02 January 1906
in Beattie, Marshall County, Kansas and died
17 November 1996

The above information is from my family tree program. My sources are various, some are listed below.

SOURCES: Personal knowledge. Handwritten Family Tree - Oliver Uriah GATES & Catherine HULL, 1984, updated 1988. Internet research: LDS Church (;;

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friend of Friends Friday ~ GATES and MILLER

As a Canadian, my interest in posting for this topic is due to my family connection to the USA.

My father, Floyd Jacob GATES, was born in Beattie, Kansas, 30 August 1910. At the age of twelve, he immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada with his parents and siblings 23 February 1923.

In addition, my 2nd great grandfather, Edmund Uriah GATES, served with Company E,  13th Regiment , Iowa Infantry, 1864-1865. Edmund was born 8th July 1882, Holmes County, Ohio and died 7th January 1917, Flagler, Kit Carson County, Colorado. In 1856, he was married to Harriet A Sponsler in Wapello County, Iowa.

1917 ~ According to the Obituary that appeared in "The Flagler News" of Kit Carson, Colorado, Edmund had the following residences:
1832-1850 ~ Thomas County, Ohio, where he was born.
1850-1873 ~ moved to Iowa.
1882-1896 ~ moved to Marshall County, Kansas.
1896-1917 ~ moved Flagler, Kit Carson, Colorado.
Here he first lived on a ranch with his son George.
Then the last few years of his life he lived in Flagler with
one of his two daughters, Sarah (GATES) WHITE.

Page 62.

Gates, Edmund W. Age 32.
Residence Fourth Congressional District, nativity Ohio.
Enlisted Nov. 2, 1864. Mustered Nov. 2, 1864. Mustered out July 21, 1865, Louisville, Ky.

The MILLER Family: Ada May MILLER, my paternal grandmother, and her parents, William Howard MILLER and Sarah BEEGHLY, were originally from Pennsylvania and moved to Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas  in 1887/1888. Nine of their thirteen children were born in Sabetha.

Some time ago I found an article about the "Lane Trail" that was part of the Underground Railroad. Its paints a detailed picture of the journey on the Underground Railroad.

The article mentions Edwin MILLER and William MILLER. According to the article, Albany, Kansas was a "station" on the "Railroad."

". . . Grand Island Railroad by-passed Albany in favor of Sabetha in 1870, Albany had faded away."

So, I'm wondering if Edwin MILLER and/or William MILLER are related to my MILLER ancestors that eventually moved to Sabetha in 1887/1888

From: "The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom"

This map includes Iowa but doesn't go quite far enough West to show Kansas.
Montreal, Quebec, is shown as one of the destinations in Canada. Others were St. Catherines and Waterloo, Ontario as well as Nova Scotia (not shown).

EXCERPT ~ "Lane's Trail and the Underground Railroad"
In the wintry twilight of a January day in 1859, a small caravan of wagons occupied by 30 or 40 escaped slaves approached the log cabin dwelling of Charles Smith in the southwest corner of Brown County. Several outriders escorted the party, whose leader was the notorious abolitionist, John Brown. This was Brown's last adventure in "Bleeding Kansas." A few months later he was captured and executed in an ill-conceived slave insurrection at Harpers Ferry, Virginia: martyred in the cause of emancipation. Sear fields and bare tree branches bracketed the lonely cabin in stark relief, but hot food and shelter from the elements was a welcome prospect for the exhausted little band on their long journey to freedom in Canada on the Underground Railway.
(This is a lengthy article, so I'm skipping down to where the MILLER name is mentioned.)

Albany was two miles north of present Sabetha on the east edge of Nemaha County. Among these pioneers were the families of William and Samuel Slosson, John and William Graham, Noble H. Rising, John Tyler, George Lyons, Edwin Miller and Elihu Whittenhall. These men were destined to exert considerable influence on the civil, military, and economic affairs of the two counties in the next quarter century. Educated, cultured, and possessed of sound business acumen, they were whole-hearted supporters of Free State principles.
(Skipping further down. . . )

By the time the St. Joseph and Grand Island Railroad by-passed Albany in favor of Sabetha in 1870, Albany had faded away. Today only a two story frame house built of native black walnut, and a pioneer cemetery remain from the original settlement. Edwin Miller physically removed his hotel to Sabetha. John Tyler settled on Cedar Creek two miles southwest of Fairview at a crossing which may have been used by emigrant parties as early as 1844. It is logical to assume that it was used by Gen. Lane in 1856, since it aligns north and south with Lexington and Smith's Station at the Gregg Creek crossing. The Tyler family cemetery is a mute testament to the contributions of this pioneer family. Noble H. Rising built the Granada Hotel at Pleasant Spring in 1858, and was a partner with George Lyons in a store at Sabetha in 1859. The following year he built Log Chain Station for the Pony Express on a branch of Muddy (Locknane) Creek.
John Graham, William Miller, and Robert Hale of Albany were killed at the Battle of Chickamagua in 1863 while serving in the 8th KS Vol. Inf. The 8th sustained more than 50% casualties in the fighting. Arthur W. Williams, who founded Sabetha on his farm in 1859, was captain of Company D. He moved to Seneca after the War, where he died in 1886. Graham County, Kansas, is named for John Graham.

Read the complete article on the Scroll down the list of "Pioneer Trails Articles"  to "Lane's Trail and the Underground Railroad."

I haven't been able to connect Edwin MILLER to my MILLER family. It is probably a coincidence that there is a William MILLER mentioned.

More research to do!

OTHER SOURCES: Handwritten Family Tree "Oliver Uriah GATES and Catherine HULL" (1988) and information from other family members.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sentimental Sunday ~ Poem ~ Carte de Visite Album

Yes, this is my Album.
But learn ere you look,
That all are expected
To add to my book
You are welcome to quiz it
The penalty is.
That you add your own Portrait.
For others to quiz. 
       Circa 1880.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Surname Saturday ~ MILLER

My paternal grandmother was Ada May MILLER. We are fortunate to have her little carte de visite (CDV) album. Unfortunately, she passed way several years before it came into our hands.

We have taken each photograph out of the album and there isn't a single name on any of them. There are nine on cardstock and nineteen are tintypes. Only six of the cardstock have the name of the photographer on the back (verso). Ten of the tintypes have thin paper frames, the other nine have none.

From what I can determine in searching about identifying photographs on the Internet, it probably dates from about the 1860's (tintypes) to about the late 1890's (cardstock). Now about 150 years old! A real treasure.

Ada's parents were Sarah BEEGHLY and William Howard MILLER. William and Sarah had 13 children, Ada was the eldest.

William Howard's parents were Mary FIKE and Phineas MILLER. (Their names appeared on the FIKE Memorial that I posted on Tombstone Tuesday.) Mary and Phineas had 10 children. 

I don't have a photograph of Mary or Phineas. However, I recently found a photograph of  one of Phineas MILLER's younger brothers, William MILLER Jr.

William MILLER Jr.

 Born 26 Sep 1827 - Somerset County, Pennsylvania
 Died 10 Jan 1908 - Waterloo, Black Hawk County, Iowa
There is a very large GEDCOM available for download, but I don't plan to do that.

Two Mystery Men!
Photographed by D. B. Rugg,
 Main Street, Hiawatha, Kansas
Old pictures copied and enlarged.


SOURCE: Personal family collection.

I'm thinking that these young men may be members of the MILLER family.
Comparing them to William, they have the same slim face and straight hair. 

The back (verso) of the photographs became a work of art in its own right. At first they were blank and then had a very small imprint of the photographer's name. Finally, the artwork became worthy of collection for that alone. Although these small photographs were know as carte de visite (visiting cards) they were an excellent way for the photographers to advertise their service.

These photographs/business cards became so popular, that trading them with family and friends became know as "carte mania."

I have a poem about the CDV albums and collecting and sharing the photographs. I'll have to dig it out.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Friend of Friends Friday ~ African Canadian Cemeteries ~ Grant Tombstones, Grey County, Ontario

"Who goes there?" ~ "A friend of friends." 
A password used on the Underground Railroad.

I have also been inspired by the essay of Sandra  Talioferro. 
This is my first post for "Friend of Friends Friday." I have a couple more that I'll add in the coming weeks.

I recall that sometime last year while I was searching for my ancestors in the Ontario cemeteries, I noticed this little cemetery with only two tombstones. It appears that these last two tombstones were brought together to mount and preserve them. Notice the chain around them. The Normanby Township is close to the Proton Township where my Irish ancestors settled in the 1850's.
I tried to enhance the image to see if I could make out any of the information, but to no avail.

Negro Cemetery
Normanby Township, Grey County, Ontario, Canada
Concession 3, Lot 50, East 1/2
"It is not know how many people were buried at this site as some of the headstones were stolen a number of years ago. All that is left are two headstones of the Grant family."
SOURCE: "Field of Stones - Ontario"
Scroll down to GREY COUNTY CEMETERIES and chose Normanby Twp.

While you're at this site, click on Cemetery Articles. Sadly a few articles on the vandalism and desecration of several cemeteries with a few photographs. What is wrong with people!

There is another Negro Cemetery listed at
Name: Negro
Lot/ Concession Concession: Concession  1,   Lot 50
Township: Osprey Township
County/District: Grey County
Municipality: Grey Highlands Township
Province: Ontario

The Osprey Township is also close to where my Irish ancestors settled in Proton Township.

Then search "Ontario - Grey County" and scroll down the alphabetical list for Negro. There are no photographs here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ~ 1917 Postcard from California USA to Saskatchewan Canada

Mr. George Johnston
Milden Sask
Feb 17, 1917
Los Angeles Cal
This is the way
we go riding here
Best wishes to you all
Yours truly
Henry Roux

This post card was sent to my grandfather from his neighbour. The village of Milden, Saskatchewan is a small farming community. My grandparents, Emma (CLARK) and George JOHNSON (a.k.a. JOHNSTON) moved to Milden in 1905 and were one of the first pioneering families. They lived in a sod house from 1905 until 1908. I still have cousins living in Milden. The 2006 Census Canada recorded a population of 172.
SOURCE: Family photograph collection.