family tree love4




Latimer Joseph Brunotte, affeciatlatly known as Latty, loved the outdoors. He was the second child to Henry and Mary Brunotte, and grew up in Ventura California, where he grew to love the outdoors.  He was a plumber by trade, but loved spend his free time hunting and fishing in the California mountains. Not much is recorded about his family life, but he did marry Laura Leona “Lynne” McCaleb and had two children before their divorce.

Later he married Camille Elizabeth Hyde.

Sadly, his tragic death is what is most remembered.

“He was traveling in rural Ojai, VENTURA, CA, when he stopped to help with an accident. He was 75 feet north of Old City Dump, Ryce Road, when he stepped backwards and fell from the river bank 75 feet to the riverbed below at approximately 9:10 PM. He died at the scene about fifteen minutes later from a cerebral hemorrhage (internal and external) and fractured skull caused by the fall. Other injuries included a fractured left femur. He was cremated on July 6, 1954 at Ivy Lawn Cemetery in Meiner’s Oaks, VENTURA, CA. His ashes scattered over the Ojai mountains where he had spent many happy years hunting and fishing.”  – photo and text courtesy of Deborah Lukens Whittaker.

The Human Side of War: A narrative of true American grit


There are some stories that never make it into the history books. It really is a shame. They are left in the silent pages of dusty journals, faded photos, and family stories. Yet it doesn’t mean they are any less important. The small, tiny, anonymous moments of life don’t always get recorded, but the pieces that are left show the rich, inspiring lives those before me have led. Pieced together, photos and stories tell the best stories, the ones that should really be in history books.

For example, Isabella Christina Draper. She was raised in the south – the Deep South, in the middle of the Civil War.

Tensions Brewing

Isabella Christina Draper was born under unusual circumstances. She was born literally in the middle of war. Her parents were farmers in Tennessee, and when War between the states broke out, Tennessee was a split state with the Middle and West Tennessee regions favoring the Confederacy, and East Tennessee taking a strong Union stand. Isabella’s parents farmed smack along the border where the Union and confederate loyalties clashed (oral history of  Cheryl Bowman Nesmith).


Living in Fear 

Even if you don’t remember a lot  from their 8th grade American History class, it is clear – growing up in the middle of war is harrowing. Often, it is the women and children that suffer the most. An entry retold by her great-great granddaughter shows the trials of growing up in war.

“She was 6 years old when the War broke out and with her father fighting for the Confederacy, that left her mother and the kids at home to survive the best they could. She would often tell my grandmother (Isabella’s daughter) how they would keep watch on the farm because at any time they would spot a Union or Confederate troop coming through for food and would have to quickly hide what little they had. No matter which side, when the troopers or soldiers left, they took everything in sight that could be eaten and anything else that struck their fancy, leaving the family with basically nothing. It didn’t matter the color of uniform the raiders were wearing, the family was seen as a target of opportunity. As the war progressed and the situation became more dire, bush-whacker gangs (guerrilla soldiers) became a terrible threat to the farmers, as well as Home Guard units, which often times were no better than the bush-whackers. These killers would steal, murder and burn any home they took a mind to just because they could. Every time little Belle turned around, she was running for her life, hiding the family’s pitifully scant supply of food or taking the one hog or two chickens she had into the woods hoping to keep them from being confiscated. Particularly in the latter part of the war, the family would run for cover simply to avoid being tortured and killed for information on husbands, sons, or brothers off fighting. Belle was 10 years old when the War finally ended. From age 6 to age 10, this is how Belle lived her life.”


I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live through such conditions. The untold fear, nightmares, and hunger. What would it be like to never experience a sense of normalcy?

The Aftermath of War 

Her great-granddaughter, Cheryl Bowman Nesmith continues, “Immediately after the War, the situation worsened. There was no rail ticket for former soldiers to return to their families, therefore sons, husbands and brothers who had fought in the War oftentimes took months to return home, if they had a home to return. All the while, the bushwhackers ran rampant, destroying what little was left of the countryside and murdering anyone who crossed their paths. Add to this the shameful actions of the northern “carpetbaggers” who soon flooded the southern states scooping up large sections of land and farms that w foreclosed due to lack of payment on taxes. And the living conditions for the hundreds of starving local people continued to go downhill. The so-called “Reconstruction Years” imposed on the southern states were almost as brutal as the War itself. From the age of 10 until she married at 18, Belle and her family endured this horrible time.”

isablella draper

Married Life

On 2 Oct 1873  Isabelle or “Belle”  married Cicero Constantine Stone, or C.C. stone. She was 18 years old, he was 23.

Cheryl Bowan Nesmith  says:

In 1873, animosities between the two loyalties still raged in Putnam County and when Belle married C.C. Stone, she came into the marriage from a Confederate family, he from a Union one. His family had to leave Tennessee immediately after the War due to their staunch Union affiliations and it was two to three years before the Stone family returned to Middle Tennessee. I’m sure discussions between the two got quite lively at times. Add to this the fact that C.C. was raised a Catholic and Belle was raised Church of Christ, one might say that even more “fuel was added to the fire”. My grandmother used to laugh at this because Bell raised every one of her kids, including my grandfather, in the Church of Christ. With C.C. being gone most of the time, I guess it never was a huge issue between them. C.C. worked for the U.S. government as an Internal Revenue Ranger, breaking up moonshine still operations in the hills and mountains. He was gone from home a lot over the years and under constant threat of life. After spending decades wondering whether Belle would ever see her husband alive again, raising eight kids basically alone and running a hotel, again basically alone…” Belle had lived through a lot.


Belle’s husband, C.C. Stone

C.C. and Isabelle Draper Stone,  in front of the hotel they ran. Children are behind them. Image courtesy of Madeline Stone Gilbert

C.C. and Isabelle Draper Stone, in front of the hotel they ran. Children are behind them. Image courtesy of Madeline Stone Gilbert

“At the turn of the century, C.C. retired from the U.S. government, he and Belle sold the hotel and they with four of their remaining children moved west settling in Dexter, Chaves County, New Mexico Territory. You would think by now, after moving away, that events would settle down and perhaps Belle could find things to smile about. But, in 1909, when C.C.’s father, Enoch Stone, passed away, C.C. returned by train to Tennessee for the burial.

Word got out that C.C. was coming back to Tennessee and the threat was made by some of the mountaineering families that he would be killed as soon as he got off the train. He told them “bring it on; I’ll be there to meet ya”. Again, Belle was left wondering if she would ever see her husband alive again and this was hardly something to smile about. Fortunately, nothing happened; C.C. tended to his business and returned safely to New Mexico” ( Cheryl Bowman Nesmith).


This is a photo of an old postcard (complete with stamp bleeding through from the back) of the Bloomington Springs Hotel in Bloomington Springs, Tennessee. This is the hotel that C.C. Stone and his wife Belle Draper Stone owned and operated until they sold it and moved the rest of the family to the New Mexico Territory after C.C. completed his time as a U.S. Ranger with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Photo courtesy of Judy Duke, Museums Administrator, Cookeville History Museum and Cookeville Depot Museum in Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee.

This is a photo of an old postcard (complete with stamp bleeding through from the back) of the Bloomington Springs Hotel in Bloomington Springs, Tennessee. This is the hotel that C.C. Stone and his wife Belle Draper Stone owned and operated until they sold it and moved the rest of the family to the New Mexico Territory after C.C. completed his time as a U.S. Ranger with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Photo courtesy of Judy Duke, Museums Administrator, Cookeville History Museum and Cookeville Depot Museum in Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee.


Isabelle “Belle” Christine Draper Stone
c.1948 , Pine Lodge, New Mexico, USA

Despite the hardships of her life, Belle lived to old age.


This was cropped from a group photo of her and her children, in-laws, grand and great-grandchildren at a Stone Family Reunion. She was around 90 years old. Original owned by: Gladys Stone Hughes.


Isabelle Christine Draper Stone is sitting and wearing a shawl around her shoulders. She was around 90 years old at the time of this photo. Standing L-R: Arthur Stone, Dorothy Kuykendall, Alfred Stone, Josie Stone, Charlie Stone, Walter Stone, Peggy Stone, Garnet Stone, Maud Stone, Fate Kuydendall’s brother, Harry Kuykendall, Fate Kuykendall, Bonita Stone and Christine Kuykendall. Sitting in chairs L-R: Mae Stone, Aubry Stone, Ora Stone, Isabelle Draper Stone, Wanda Stone, Stuart Stone, Pansy Stone Kuykendall, Doris Kuydendall and Eunice Kuydendall. Children in front L-R: ?, Desi Mae and Danny. Photo owned by: Gladys Stone Hughes.

In fact, she lived to be over 100 years old.



This was taken on her 100th birthday. Isabelle is sitting and is flanked from left to right by: Arthur Stone, Walter Stone and Garnet Stone. Photo owned by: Gladys Stone Hughes.

If you ever think your life is hard, just look at history. There you will found countless stories of perseverance, courage, and true grit. Belle Draper, is one of those stories. She endured hunger, pillaging and hardship. She also practically single-handedly raised 8 children and ran a large hotel, all while constantly fearing for her husband’s life. She may not be in the history books, but her story is in my book – never to be forgotten.


Ann Maria Fawson Sutton: A woman of courage


Anna Maria Fawson (Image courtesy of Rebecca A. Smith).

This is another long post. But oh so worth it to read.

“In spite of the fact that Grandma Cooke [Fawson] has always been a hard worker and gone through many hardships she is very active, both in body and mind and says she is just in her prime. She has a fine sense of humor and can always see the bright side of life. She goes about her daily tasks as she did 20 years ago and enjoys very much the same things that the younger people receive pleasure from,” (Grantsville Gazette, 1931 on her 82nd birthday).

See how you're related! Click to enlarge.

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge.

Ann Maria Fawson is one remarkable lady. She is the kind of lady you are extremely lucky to discover is part of your family heritage. She is the kind of woman to be proud of.

During the year 1849, gold was discovered in California, the Potato Famine raged in Ireland, and, cholera outbreaks were occurring across the European front.

Still, little Ann Maria Fawson was welcomed into the world on February 27th, 1849. She was born in Coventry,Warwickshire England, and grew up with many brothers and sisters. (She was the sixth of eight children.)


Coventry, Warwickshire, England

courtesy of wikipedia commons.

Courtesy of wikipedia commons.

Unfortunately tragedy stuck early in her childhood – her father Abraham died when she was only six years old. Not only did her mother Ann struggle with the grief of losing her husband, but she was left alone to raise her eight children, ranging from ages 16 to 3.

Not much is recorded, but two years later the family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Armed with faith, they left Liverpool England on April 28,1864, and sailed to America during the U.S. civil war.

Clipper ship Monarch of the Sea

Anna, with her mother and siblings, sailed on the Monarch of the Sea for 40 days.

In an original journal entry recorded most likely by one of her siblings:

“The Captain took a northern route among the icebergs so that it would be healthier. The ice mountains would be from fifty to a hundred feet above the waves and they were that deep under and they were that deep under the sea.

Possible scenery on the way to America. image courtesy of

Possible scenery on the way to America. image courtesy of

The fog horn sounded day and night to warn other ships of our presence. One day a fearful storm arose. The ship was kept rolling on its sides, going under the waters. 

image courtesy of Wikipedia

image courtesy of Wikipedia

The people were all fastened underneath the decks, being water tight. One sailor fell overboard and we saw no more of him.The glass was eight inches thick, letting in plenty of light. But mother and us children were near the bottom of the ship; only a glimmer of light coming from each end of the vessel. To get down into our bunks we stepped down ladders of two flights in pitch dark. We would have to feel our way and be in the dark for about twenty minutes before we could see anything about us. We had no light at night only at each end of the deck.

Everyone felt so sorry for mother. The ship was kept rolling and tossing – every roll seemed about to break the ship in tow. Just underneath us was the ballast, a cargo of sugar, so you may know we were close to the bottom of the vessel. Nobody knows what mother went through, being sickly and weak. We were close to six weeks crossing the ocean.

My sister Anne, age 14, had all the work to do for us. She would have to get up about four in the morning to stand for her turn to get our breakfast from the cook up on deck and when the ship tossed it was a hard job for her to keep on her feet. Everything we had was given us raw, then Anne would have to take the raw stuff to be cooked. She was kept busy, no time to be sea-sick.

One day, as the ship gave to big plunge, a boy fell down the ladder. His parents held the next bunk to ours. For days we had little sleep until he died. We were now nearing land, and nearing New York. At sight of land we were all on deck swing our hats for joy. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful sight to see. Standing out before us were mountains with green grass and shrubbery. Next morning we were in the Bay of New York” (courtesy of June Stanford).

William Rickarby Miller: Bay of New York, 1860.

William Rickarby Miller: Bay of New York, 1860.

The treacherous journey was successful for the Fawson family, but some were not so lucky. Out of the 975 passengers on the ship, 50 had perished. This journey occurred 50 years before the Titanic would sink. Risk was always a factor of sailing, as written by Anna’s sibling in the journal entry.


The Monarch of the Sea and the Titanic took similar routes to America.

Although their harrowing journey to America was over, their travels through America were just beginning.

Soon after arriving in America, the family sailed up the Hudson River to Albany and from Albany they went to the Far West by trail.

After reaching Albany the family traveled to Nebraska where they camped for weeks, while making preparations to head west to Utah.

Nebraska City, 1860s.

Nebraska City, 1860s.

By August of 1964, they started westward with 4 Oxen and a few provisions. Tragically, her mother Ann became ill and died a few days into the journey on August 9th, 1964. She was next to a lone pine tree near the Platt River, and the group moved on. Although the children were orphans, they continued their journey to Utah the best they could.


Ann Hodierne Fawson

download (3)

Courtesy of Amy Bengtzen

In Ann’s own words,
“Funeral services were brief, for the wagon train was under the necessity of traveling as rapidly as possible. Not far from the wayside, a crude grave was dug: there were no flowers and there was no coffin. Usually there were few relatives present and sometimes none. A hymn was sung, a prayer was offered, there were a few words of consolation. Such burials were sad and solemn and there were many tears shed. The body was wrapped in a sheet, placed in a blanket and covered with earth. A brush fire was lighted to keep prowling animals away from the grave.” 

Although the journey was physcially, mentally, and emotionally draining, there was Ann pressed forward. In the same account Ann recalls,“The journey across the plains was very trying to both the pioneers and their animals. We walked all of that long journey. The oxen became so weak and weary that we were not even permitted to hold to the wagons to help our aching bodies along. We walked until the soles of our shoes disappeared and then we walked in our bare feet.


I taught myself to read and write. When the wagon train would stop, I would smooth out an area of dust with the palm of my hand and then in the dust I would form letters of the alphabet with my fingers, at the same time sounding them out. When we stopped to eat, some were assigned to obtain fuel and light the fires, while still others prepared the meals. There were no tables nor chairs. Bread was baked in a [cast iron] bake skillet.

After the evening meals, we sat about the camp fires, resting from the day’s hard traveling and amused ourselves as best we could. Some sang, others talked of the land we had left – of the days that had gone – and those that were to come. Occasionally we listened to the howling of wild animals and frequently we wondered how secure we were from the Indians. The saddest event of our camp fire lives were deaths of members of our company, such occasions changed our usually happy, hopeful moods to deepest sorrow.”

Ann and her siblings arrived in Salt Lake City, on September 29, 1964. Shortly after, they traveled to Gransville Utah, to live with their older Sister Jane Fawson Williams. She had come to Utah before them, however they were so poor that Ann had to find somewhere else to live. She decided to work for families to earn her room and board, plus 50 cents per week.


Although her new life in Utah was not easy, she did find happiness. She says,

“I had carried a piece of leather across the plains, thinking that when I reached Utah I would find a shoemaker and have him make me a pair of shoes. I did just that. One day I walked into a shoe shop and the shoemaker was a young handsome man with curly red hair. I said to myself, “I am going to marry him.” And she did. His name was Charles Cooke. They were married on the 24th of December, 1865 in Grantsville Utah. They settled in that area and had seven children, including fraternal twins!

(Courtesy of Anne Berns)

(Courtesy of Anne Berns)

Many years later, after all the children had grown and left the house, Charles and Ann moved to Grouse Creek, then to Tremonton Utah. They died and were buried there.


(Courtesy of James Fawson).

On her 82nd birthday the newspaper writes,” In relating her early experiences it is evident that she has passed through a great many hardships, living in log huts with dirt floors and roof and toiling to make a livelihood, her mother having died while crossing the plains… She is a faithful and true Latter-day Saint who has given much for the gospel sake. We wish her many more happy birthdays and the joy of life so long as she lives.” 


(Courtesy of Ann Berns).

*Thanks to Fern Cooke and Albert Paskett for their writings and research on this great woman.

The War to End all Wars – Carl Frederick Brunotte

It was the war to end all wars. And yet in four short, yet incredibly long years, over 16,560,000 would die and another 21,200,000 would be wounded. Men and boys, from towns and villages in France, Britain, Germany and America fought for their freedoms. Carl Frederick Brunotte was one of them.

courtesy of The Great War 100 app

“A century ago, an assassin, a Serbian nationalist, killed the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary as he visited Sarajevo. This act was the catalyst for a massive conflict that lasted four years. More than 65 million soldiers were mobilized by more than 30 nations, with battles taking place around the world. Industrialization brought modern weapons, machinery, and tactics to warfare, vastly increasing the killing power of armies. Battlefield conditions were horrific, typified by the chaotic, cratered hellscape of the Western Front, where soldiers in muddy trenches faced bullets, bombs, gas, bayonet charges, and more.” Alan Taylor, artist.


Carl Frederick Brunotte, in uniform. Courtesy of

Born in California to German parents, Carl grew up in the warm climate of Southern California. He had at least 6 brothers and sisters, he being one of the youngest.

See how you're related! Click to enlarge

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge

Carl grew up and later met Ida Jane Stotts. He was 30, and she was 25 years old.

Ida Jane Stotts Brunotte. Photo courtesy of

Ida Jane Stotts Brunotte. Photo courtesy of

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Records indicate they had no children.

There is not a lot of records as to Carl’s role in WWI, but it is certain that he participated. In the Freemasons records of Mill Valley California, it says:

Mill Valley Lodge Veterans Members of Mill Valley Lodge No. 356, F & AM have not failed to answer our country’s call to arms in times of need. All members of Mill Valley Lodge No. 356 are proud of the service that these brothers rendered on behalf of our nation. These Honor Rolls are offered to the community so that our neighbors in Mill Valley and our greater world community can also learn and remember what the members of Mill Valley Lodge No. 356 will not forget. Honor Roll of Brethren who Served in World War I September 22, A.L. 5919 (1919) at a Special Meeting, the Lodge was opened on the Third Degree of Masonry for the purpose of dedicating a bronze tablet to the members of this Lodge who served their country in the Army or Navy during the war of 1917-1918.

 Masonic Lodge number 356 in downtown Mill Valley.

Masonic Lodge number 356 in downtown Mill Valley.

The Secretary read the names of the forty-two members who had lately been in the Country’s service during the World War as follows: Bro…. Robert William BarrDorrence Beck Robert Belshaw Grover Cleveland Boyd Carl F. Brunotte Frederick Alexander Burden James Andrew Carlile Franklyn Broughton Conroy Matthew Demmer John Franklin Ellis Adolph Gustof Falk Richard Marion Finn George Newton Folker, Jr. Herbert Penn Folker Henry Guth Homer Byron Hyde Robert Jacob, Jr. Harold Sidney Johnson Olin Ransellar Kelsey Melvin Harvey Klyce Julius Kover Lee Lawrence Lane Ralph Lee Lockwood Ivar Wilhelm Lundqvist George Robert Mantlo Ross Reed McLeod Charles John McQuillan Lester Theodore Olmstead Roy E. Patterson Nathan Podhoretz Fred. Alfred Roemer John Nelson Ross James George Saxton, Jr. Albert Victor Shaw Zenas Abner Sherwin Francis Joseph Sommer Oscar Park Stowe Clarence Wilber Thomas Lon Mack Turpin Lionel Wachs Jesse Warren WagnerRoy Culver Ward By order of the Worshipful Master, F.A. Burden, the Flag of our Country was escorted to the East with appropriate ceremonies, them members present singing the Star Spangled Banner. The Service Flag was then retired by Past Master Harvey A. Klyce. Bro. A.J. Treat 33° then delivered the dedication oration, which was followed by instrumental and vocal selections.

He is also listed as a Sergeant in the US Army between 1917-1918. He was 48 years old.


From what I researched Freemasons believe in three things:

Brotherly love: Love for each other and for all mankind
Relief: Charity for others and mutual aid for fellow Masons
Truth: The search for answers to the universal questions of morality and the salvation of the soul that only a man’s individual faith and his relationship with God can provide. Some Freemasons are Christian, some are Jewish, because it is not actually an organized religion, but more of a fraternity. There are no clergy, rather every man is their own thinker. Masonry initially began as a guild for stone masons who built the castles and cathedrals of Medieval Europe.

In WWI, Carl fought in a war that is still remembered 100 years later. Although we do not have exact record of his duties, it must have been challenging to leave his wife, and serve for a country who was fighting against his parent’s homeland. On top of the emotional trauma of war, many German-Americans faced heavy Anti-German sentiment back home. “Any German-Americans thought to have shown support or sympathy for Germany ran the risk of being named in newspapers as disloyal and, at times, risked physical harm.” (WWI Anti-German Sentiment).

Many Americans know a lot about WWII because it is constantly glamorized on TV and in books and movies, but don’t know as much about WWI. It was a gruesome war was death, disease and trauma on all sides.

courtesy of The Great War 100 app

courtesy of The Great War 100 app

Communications before computers - WWI carrying pigeons were used to carry messages during WWI. People would tie messages to the feet of pigeons. One time a pigeon saved over 200 men because of a delivered message.

Communications before computers – WWI carrying pigeons were used to carry messages during WWI. People would tie messages to the feet of pigeons. One time a pigeon saved over 200 men because of a delivered message.

courtesy of The Great War 100 app

courtesy of The Great War 100 app

courtesy of keeley shouldel

courtesy of keeley shouldel

Capturell Capturellllll

Although there were many casualties in the war, Carl was not one of them.
He returned home and lived to be 68 years old. He passed away 06, April 1939. His wife Ida passed away in San Francisco four years before him on January 22, 1935. They are both buried in the Woodland Cemetery in California. I am so grateful for his life and service to our country.

courtesy of

courtesy of



Showdown. Shootout. Shoot ’em up cowboy.
The picturesque wild west, was well – wild. 
An ideal “wild west” scenario probably wouldn’t be complete without a duel. Dueling, imported to America from Ireland and England, was a common way to handle many situations including neighbor quarrels, gambling disputes, or libel.

It seems barbaric in our day. However a lot of people viewed it as honorable. Contrary to popular belief, the point of a duel was not “shoot to the death,” although that was frequently the outcome.
For example, in the code of dueling or the “Code Duello” “Any wound sufficient to agitate the nerves and necessarily make the hand shake, must end the business for that day.

Benjamin Franklin Morris was born deep in the heart of Texas.

Photo courtesy of Denise

Photo courtesy of Denise

See how you're related! Jacob C. See is the uncle-in-law to Benjamin Franklin Morris

See how you’re related! Jacob C. See is the uncle-in-law to Benjamin Franklin Morris. His sister (Rachel Jane See) had a daughter who married Ben Morris.

Later, in 1851-1852 his family settled in the Bakersfield area. They came to San Luis Obispo, California  around 1854 and went into cattle ranching. The Morris’s had their own stables and were breeders of fine horses. He was also listed as being a “Justice of the Peace” in the Coulterville Mariposa Newspaper.

Horses on a farm around 1800. These horses could have been similar to the kind Benjamin Franklin Morris would have raised

Horses on a farm around 1800. These horses could have been similar to the kind Benjamin Franklin Morris would have raised

Benjamin Franklin Morris. Photo courtesy of

Benjamin Franklin Morris. Photo courtesy of

When Benjamin was 26 he married Emmaline “Emma” Jane Monroe in San Luis Obispo, California on March 16, 1870. They had three daughters together. Sarah Amelia, Elizabeth (Etta) and Rebecca Marion. Emma died in 1877 during childbirth when Rebecca was born. Emma who was married at 16, passed away when she was 23.
With a newborn in the house, it was only a short two months later when Benjamin married Amanda Allen Laird.

Benjamin Franklin Morris with his second wife Amanda Laird and his daughter Etta morris

Benjamin Franklin Morris with his second wife Amanda Laird and his daughter Etta morris

With his second wife Amanda, Benjamin has four more children. Benjamin Jr. (born 1879), Mary Jane (born 1880), Josephine Goldie (born 1882), and John A. T. (birth date unknown).

It is ironic that Benjamin Franklin Morris was named after a founding father who were among some of the most noticeable Americans to condemn dueling. Franklin called duels a “murderous practice… they decide nothing.”

Family history tells that Benjamin. F. Morris was killed by George W. Walker on Higuera Street in front of the Central Hotel in San Luis Obispo. They were friends at one time, but a dispute over a horse and then Benjamin be-friended Walker’s ex-wife after their divorce, and this led to bad feelings and consequently a confrontation ending with Benjamin getting killed. Benjamin rode into town on Higuera St., in front of the Central Hotel, dismounted and seeing Walker said “look out!”. Both drew their pistols and fired at each other. Morris shot Walker in the thigh Walker shot once and Benjamin shot 2-3 times, one being a shot near the heart. “San Luis Tribune, 02-1884

“My grandfather [Benjamin Sr.] was shot and killed on the street, Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo. My grandfather had a contest with another man whose name was Mr. Walker. This Mr. Walker stepped out of a building and as my grandfather dismounted to tie his horse to the hitching rack, he shot him from under the horse’s neck twice. Hitting him near the heart once and a little higher on the shoulder the second time. My grandfather was not aware that this man was anywhere near, of that he was in this temperament. My grandfather, as he fell, drew his gun and shot Mr. Walker, but hit him too low, near the groin. They rushed Mr. Walker to the hospital, but he was crippled to the extent that he limped after that but he didn’t harm him in any other way. After this happened to my grandfather and his burial in the old Odd Fellows Cemetery in San Luis Obispo, Amanda (Ben’s wife) bought a stone for his grave [a huge stone as I have seen] paid $1,500 for it which was a lot of money in that day and age, and then the family broke up and . . . . “[the story she tells was that Mr. Walker and Benjamin had a horse race and Mr. Walker lost. “Grandfather had his own stables, raised his own horses and had some that was pretty good. This Mr. Walker came after my grandfather to race him. Race on of the horses he felt he could be at. I don’t know what the wager was or whether there was a wager. I don’t know but anyway my grandfather beat him in this horse race. And so my mom tells me that that’s what it was all about”] Source of the following information: Memories of the Benjamin F. Morris Family, as told by Hazel M. Finley Guy (his granddaughter), recorded by Terry Guy (Hazel’s grandson) in 1981 and text edited by Wayne T. Scott, my brother:


Image courtesy of San Luis Obispo County Regional Photograph Collection, MS 168

When he died his three daughters Sarah, Elizabeth and Rebecca were made wards of the court and put in a San Luis Obispo convent for 3 years. (They were taken care of by nuns at the girls school).

Image courtesy of San Luis Obispo County Regional Photograph Collection, MS 168

Image courtesy of San Luis Obispo County Regional Photograph Collection, MS 168

Philip Kaetzel was appointed administrator of the estate. When Ben died two brothers [Joseph Morris Jr. & Elijah Morris] living in Wyoming came down. One (Uncle Joe) was a foreman for Kern County Land and Catte Company (several years before and after 1900) . He bought a cattle ranch consisting of 999 thousand acres. Lester Guy (my dad) wondered why he didn’t buy one more acre.” –

Benjamin Franklin Morris died on March 2nd 1884. He is buried in the San Luis Obispo Cemetery (Lady Sutcliff, section 5, lot 5, plot 3).


courtesy of

The Sandwich Islands, Stowaways, and Sugar Plantations

Who says history is boring?
Not when you’re in my family.

This is a story about my great-great-great grandpa.
Isn’t that great?

Andrew Jackson McKenney Sr. (Image courtesy of Donald Earl McKenney Jr).

See how you're related! Click to enlarge.

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge.

He name was Andrew Jackson McKenney Sr. He was born in the spring of 1840, in Stetson Maine.


Why Maine? That’s because it’s where his ancestors settled. John McKenney’s great-ancestor was actually a Scottish soldier in the Scottish revolutionary war. Apparently, he was part of an army that tried to “place their own Prince Charles on the throne of Great Britain as the rightful heir of the Stuart monarchy. They were defeated by the military dictator, Oliver Cromwell, and the English forces at the battle of Dunbar and Worchester. (Donald Earl McKenney Jr).


Think, Braveheart.

Unfortunately his ancestor and many other Scots were captured as prisoners of war and exiled to Boston where they served a year-year indenture. After seven years John McKenney moved his family to Maine where his family could establish roots.

So, that’s why Maine.

Legend has it that that Andrew Jackson McKenney was also born with a rebellious spirit because when the civil war broke out, he decided leave Maine as a stow away on a ship. The ship sailed around Cape horn to the Sandwich Islands, aka Hawaii.

Possible route of the ship he was on

Possible route of the ship he was on

Once in Hawaii he made friends and worked for the Rowan family on a sugar plantation near Kaneohe, Oahu.

Photograph of Kaneohe Hawaii

Photograph of Kaneohe Hawaii

How a typical sugar cane plantation would have looked on Hawaii.               ( courtesy of

How a typical sugar cane plantation would have looked on Hawaii. ( courtesy of

Mr. Rowan died a few years later. Within a year of his death, Andrew McKenney married the widowed Mrs. Rowan, (Louisa Grace Richards). Andrew was 21 years old, and Louisa was 30 when they were married. Louisa was originally born and raised in Cornwall England, but decided to live in Hawaii after finishing a world cruise with relatives and her sister. Before settling in Hawaii, they also spent some time living and working in Australia before coming to Hawaii.

Louisa Grace Richards. (Image courtesy of Don Earl McKenney Jr).

Louisa Grace Richards. (Image courtesy of Don Earl McKenney Jr).


Kaneohe, Hi. What their land might have looked like.

Together they worked on the six acre sugar plantation. Allegedly their plantation was on the western fringe of Kaneohe, with the Puu Keahiakahoe mountains overlooking their land.
Interestingly, Andrew Jackson become friends with King Kamehameha V and was appointed his advisor and a uniformed member of the Palace Guard (Donald McKenney Jr).
(This fact gave me serious “cool points” when I lived in Hawaii during middle and high school.)
Allegedly his official sealing ring still exists and is owned by one of his decedents.

Example of a sealing ring which was a ring with a seal for impressing sealing wax. It was used often by important people to authenticate their documents.

Example of a sealing ring which was a ring with a seal for impressing sealing wax. It was used often by important people to authenticate their documents.

A few years later, Andrew McKenney suddenly passed away at the age of 38 on September 20, 1878. Although the cause of death was listed as “brain disease” it is uncertain. Family stories say that “he went blind and lost his hair shortly before death (Donald Earl McKenney Jr).


Final resting place of Andrew Jackson McKenney. He was buried on the sugar plantation property, which is now on undeveloped state land. (Image courtesy of Don McKenney).

The location of the burial site is just west of the dead end of Kulukeoe Street (a residential area.) To the west of the burial site is the state mental hospital .

Don McKenney made a grave marker for Andrew McKenney. It is now mounted on the boulder that marks his burial place .

Don McKenney made a grave marker for Andrew McKenney. It is now mounted on the boulder that marks his burial place .

Because Andrew had passed away, Louisa was left alone with four kids to raise. (The three boys from her previous marriage were grown and out of the house.) The younger boys Andrew and Edward were sent to live in Utah with a half-brother named Charles Rowan.  Louisa married her third husband Robert Brown but quickly divorced him in 1881. She then took her daughters and sailed to San Francisco. The oldest Rowan sons, remained in Hawaii. George married a Hawaiian woman and raised his family. William Rowan died around 1887.

Louisa came back to Hawaii ten years after Andrew had passed away to visit.

Louisa came back to Hawaii after Andrew had passed away to visit. She is on the old McKenney place, most likely close to Andrew’s burial site. This is the last time she visited this place before returning to the states.

After a trip back to Hawaii during the late 1800s, Louisa and her two daughters returned to California and settled in the Oakland, California area. Although she spent the remainder of her life in the States, (until 1908) I can only imagine that part of Hawaii always remained with her. Or, as they sing in a popular Hawaiian song, Aloha Oe.

Aloha ʻoe, aloha ʻoe Farewell to thee, farewell to thee
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace, One fond embrace,
A hoʻi aʻe au ‘Ere I depart
Until we meet again Until we meet again
ʻO ka haliʻa aloha i hiki mai Sweet memories come back to me
Ke hone aʻe nei i Bringing fresh remembrances
Kuʻu manawa Of the past
ʻO ʻoe nō kaʻu ipo aloha Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
A loko e hana nei From you, true love shall never depart

Now we know where the 80s got it from

Oh the hair.
Let’s all take a minute to appreciate these hairdos.
There are no words to describe them really. These perfectly coiffed doos are really works of art.
I mean, they didn’t have hairspray back then people.

This photograph was probably taken around the turn of the century, when Edwardian and Gibson hairstyles were all the rage.


Back row left to right: Beatrice, Neil, Ruby, Front left to right: Mina, Agnes (Mina and her children)

I found this gem while researching family names.


The famous "Gibson Girl"

The famous “Gibson Girl”

See how you're related! Click to enlarge

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge

Mina and her children come from the “Mary E Lane” side of the family.
While researching I found out that she had more than awesome hair. Times were really different back then.

Mina grew up right in the middle of the Civil War. I can’t even imagine what it would be like.
I discovered that Mina’s father fought in the Civil War. It is unclear which side he fought for, although he was born in New York and raised his family in Michigan so it is likely that he would have fought for the North. Both of these states were some of the first to ban slavery. I would like to think he fought on the abolitionist side.

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Civil war soldier in the trenches. Photo courtesy of  Jean Damien

Civil war soldier in the trenches. Photo courtesy of Jean Damien

I also discovered that Mina’s parents divorced which intrigued me. Divorce wasn’t common in the 1870s like it is today. Hiram Lane (Mina’s Father remarried 15 years later).

In an article called Divorce: Dilemma for Early Americans, I learned possibly why there was divorce.
It says:

After the Civil War divorce cases escalated all over the country. Families separated for the duration of the war didn’t always want to reunite. Many men found it easier to disappear in the west rather than return to their families leaving the wife to file for desertion. Civil War pension files often reveal cases where two women are seeking a pension for the same spouse, neither wife aware of the other.

While society became more liberal, the stigma of divorce was still felt by those involved. Women especially tried to avoid the label divorce, often calling themselves widows despite the fact they still had a living spouse if separated, or ex-spouse if divorced. To admit to divorce was an admission of inferiority or rejection. Widowhood, on the other hand, could not be construed to have been the widow’s fault. Into the mid 1900s census records reveal widows for whom divorce actions can be found in the courts.

They never taught that in History class.
Just as women in WWI and WWII were strong, women in the Civil war were often unsung heroes. Not to mention it would take a lot of courage to be on your own raising children at a time when divorce was a serious stigma, and employment for women was not common. Mina’s mom, Jane Bailey – what a strong lady.

Mina Estelle Lane later in life

Mina Estelle Lane later in life