My Motivational Texas Ancestors

In an Interview recently I was asked, "What got you interested in or started your family history/genealogy?

It was my first Genealogy Interview and, I thought the questions were going to be harder to answer.

I was prepared to fess up to questions about having ancestors that might have been Wild West Texas Outlaws.

So the question about how I got interested and started was an easy one to answer.  I even have a photo of the two people who inspired, motivated, and gave me my start as 'The Keeper of My Family's History'.

 Meet the 'Motivational First Keeper' aka as the 'Barefoot Genealogist'...my Aunt Vera Irene Pittman Sinks.  She's sitting beside the 'Cowboy Inspiration' for Tracks of My Texas Ancestors...my Dad...Willard Carroll Pittman.

Irene was the oldest of the six siblings and Willard the youngest.   There was ten years difference in their ages with two brothers and two sisters between them. They were Texas born and raised with an appreciation for their Texas Pioneer heritage.

Irene spent much of her lifetime in search of our Family History.  She loved to talk and write about our ancestors, and the information she found in her research.  Her hours of note taking in libraries and the inquiries from Genealogical Societies from Georgia to Texas have given me an abundance of information on which to build our Family Tree in the Technologically Advanced Genealogy Community of the Twenty-First Century.
About that Interview...
CollectInTexasGal/Tracks of My Texas Ancestors
Featured Genealogy Blog
GeneaBloggers 'May I Introduce To You'
Sue Pittman McPeak
CollectInTexas Gal


Microfiching Catches a Family History Whopper

I've been known to tell some pretty good fish stories!  Mostly about how the Bigun's Got Away or the fishin' was so good they were jumpin outta the water and snatching the worms right off the hook. 

It's been awhile since I've been fishin' for whoppers, but recently I got the idea to go Microfiche-ing.

I've been carrying around the 'Bait' for several months and was just waiting to be in the right place at the right time to catch what I hoped would add some insight to what happened to...

....Great Granddaddy's Second Wife!

I caught a Whopper and Opened Up a Whole New Can of Worms!

August 23, 1918


Mrs. G.W. Pittman, of Grandfalls, who only recently had come here for medical treatment, died very suddenly from organic heart trouble, at the Riggs Hotel, Saturday evening August 16th.

The remains were prepared for burial by Undertaker W.H. Bird, after which they were taken to Grandfalls, Sunday afternoon and interred in the cemetery at that place. 

The funeral services were conducted by Reverand M.O. Williams, pastor of the Methodist Church, of which church the deceased was a devoted member.

A husband and two children, who reside in Grandfalls, are left to mourn her loss.

Obituary for Mrs. George Washington Pittman...Nancy Anne Carey Forkner Pittman.
Born...April 23, 1854 in Monroe County Tennessee to John E. Carey and Ellen M. McAllister
Died...August 16th, 1918 at the age of 64 in Fort Stockton, Pecos County, Texas
Survived by husband George Washington Pittman of Grandfalls, Ward County, Texas.
and....here's the Opening of a Whole New Can of Worms....
....the two children left to mourn were her Granddaughters. 
This I knew from the 1910 Census that listed Maime 4 years and Tillie 1 year, and who at the time of Nancy's death would have been 12 and 9 years of age.  Who and where was the Mother of these two granddaughters?   Why weren't Nancy's SIX children she reported as having given birth to in the 1900 Census, listed as surviving her or preceeding her in death? 
Yep, looks like another Fishin' Trip!
But first, the Obituary Revelations!!
The Riggs Hotel where Nancy died has been a subject and photo resource for many of the posts here on CollectInTexas Gal.  As a former member of the Fort Stockton Historical Society and Board Member of the Annie Riggs Museum, I have spent many hours there.  What a Special Moment it was for me when I read that my Great Grandfather and Step-Great Grandmother had stayed there exactly 95 years ago to the day that I Microfiched the Obituary!  I can hardly wait to get back to Fort Stockton and the Annie Riggs Museum to find their Signatures in the August 1918 Registry.

The remains were prepared for burial by Undertaker W.H. Bird, after which they were taken to
Grandfalls, Sunday afternoon and interred in the cemetery at that place. 
That place being the Tamarisk Cemetery.
Another Special Moment to realize that another of my Pittman Texas Ancestors
 can now be officially laid to rest with other Family Members including
George Washington Pittman's Grandsons and Great Grandsons
Willard Carroll Pittman and MD Pittman
Stacy Scott Pittman and Billy Carroll Sinks
Rest in Heavenly Peace
Nancy Anne Carey Forkner Pittman
April 23, 1854 - August 16, 1918
You are fondly remembered in the Pittman Family Tree and History
as documented in
Tracks of My Texas Ancestors.
Your story will be told.


Gone But Not Forgotten In Tamerisk Cemetery

Not My Kin...just folks I find...whose Stones I photograph...whose stories I tell...who sometimes are 'Kin Connected'.
Mary Springen was born in Norway on November 20, 1853 and immigrated to America in 1860 at age 7...according to the 1900 Census from Ward County, Texas.

I will begin her Texas story in September 1897 when Mary and her brother Ole Springen bought property  in Grandfalls, Ward County, Texas on the SW corner, of Ave D and 2nd Street.  Here they erected Grandfalls first Hotel, a two story building with wide porches and railings on both levels.

Ole and Mary were part of what was called the 'Scandinavian Invasion' in Ward County with many immigrant families seeking land and opportunities in what was being touted as the 'Finest Climate In The World' by developers of the Grandfalls Irrigation Company.  Besides the Hotel, Ole Springen ran a Freight Wagon business between Grandfalls and Monahans, and farmed along with his wife Lena.  Mary, it seems was the primary InnKeeper as was noted in the 1900 Census. 
The circumstances of Mary's death on May 11, 1905 are not known. 
Her gravesite and tombstone are the only records of her death with a possible clue
as to the cause of death with the inscription.
No Pain No Grief No Anxious Fear
Can Reach Our Loved One Sleeping Here
Tamarisk Cemetery...Grandfalls, Ward County, Texas
Sometime after Mary's death, her brother Ole and his family left Grandfalls and Ward County.  Ole's name appears in the Pecos Valley Irrigationist newspaper dated Thursday, March 27, 1913 as a new subscriber from Boumont, California.

In the 1910 Census Ole and his family of wife Lena and three children reside in San Fernando, Los Angeles, California where Ole owned and operated a Blacksmith Shop.

Ole Springen's application for US Citizenship in 1917 reveals more of his and his sister Mary's family background.  Ole and Mary were born in Flesberg, Norway, emigrated to the US from Windsor, Canada on unknown vessel and arrived in the port of Detroit, Michigan in 1857.  Their family name in Norway was Oleson, and declared as Ole Springen on the Declaration of Intention.  His wife Lena was a natural born citizen of Marshall, Wisconsin.  In 1920 Ole, Lena and family are in San Gorgonio, Riverside, California where Ole is working as a farm laborer.  Ten years later in 1930,  Ole, Lena and son Oscar are living on owned farm and listed as Hay Farmers. 
Ole Oleson Springer died in 1937 at age 83.  His wife Lena died in 1948.
They are buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Beaumont, Riverside County, California.
 Mary and Ole are Not My Kin. 
 I photographed Mary's Headstone near the Pittman Family Plot in Tamarisk Cemetery.
As a Grandfalls Family Historian, I wondered who she was.
We are Not Kin...but...We are Connected.
A Grandfalls cowboy.  Ott's Blacksmith Shop. C. Hale's Meat Market, and Grandfalls Hotel.
Photo from Ward County History 1887-1977 pg.181
 Original Photo found in my Great Grandmother Martha Jane Marley Carroll's Album.
The Cowboy is thought to be Bob Olfield... Martha Jane's second husband.
My Great StepGrandfather and Pen Name Story Teller.
Here's one of 'Our Stories'
I'm pretty sure Mary and Ole Springen knew not only Bob Olfield, but my Great Grandfather George Washington Pittman and wife Nancy who arrived in Grandfalls about the same time as the Scandinavians Invaded.  Great Grandmother Nancy who died in 1918 is buried not far from Mary Springen. 
It's a small cemetery and a 'Small World Afterall'.


Pictures...Worth More Than A Thousand Words

I don't know about you, but my Family Picture Takers and Photo Album Keepers
must have thought that the Future Generation Viewers were going to have
Super Deductive-MindReading Powers.
It is RARE that I find a picture with ANY hint of WhoWhatWhenWhere!

Like this one sent to me in 1996 by my Dad's First Cousin Tom Pittman and his wife Jean.  It was from their Photo Album and he thought I should have it since it was an early picture of me, my parents and siblings along with his Mother and his children. 
A note came with the photo that filled in a few VIP Facts:
...found the picture of your Mom and Dad's visit in El Paso so many years ago...I will have a copy made.
...There are 3 children in the picture...you, Tommy and a baby.
...PittMama is holding our Judy and son Larry is to her right.
...the photo will not copy...so enjoy!
Needless to say I was thrilled to have the original and the information about the picture.
For the rest of the Who's What's Where's and When's...
....My SuperDeductiveSleuthin' Powers!

#1.  The Baby is my Sister Sonja born in November 1950.  She looks to be close to one year old.
#2.  My Dad...Willard C. Pittman...with HAIR...I don't remember him ever having that much hair...loved seeing that.
#3.  Dad's pockets held Camel cigarettes and box matches.  *a vip hint for future reference.
#4.  I had a CURLY head of hair.  I have naturally STRAIGHT hair...Mom must have given me one of her famous 'overly processed Perms'...probably a Toni!
#5.  I'm wearing shorts....it was SUMMER.
#6.  I guess I was born with KNOBBY KNEES...I still have them...wonder what ancestor started those!
#7.  My brother Tommy was a Shrimp!  His size 3Slim jeans were really probably size 4Slims rolled up and belted.  Mother was a believer in making things last....like Wranglers and Toni's.
#8.  Mother was a FashionIsta!  Rolled up Jeans, sleeveless blouse, dark lipstick and a Home Toni!  She was beautiful...still is!
#9.  My Great Aunt Mary Ella Carroll Pittman aka PittMama to her children and grandchildren.  Her sister was my Grandmother Estella Carroll Pittman...Dad's Mother.  Notice that their Maiden and Married names are the SAME.  *a vip hint for future reference.
#10.  A cousin I didn't know I had.  He's also wearing shorts...it's Summer!
#11.  Back of the photo!  Confirms it came from a photo album with the sticky sheets and even if Jean had written on the back it would not have been visible.  Maybe she had a tag!  For sure it was a special photo for Tom and Jean.
SuperSleuthing Deductions
When:  Summer...August 195l
Where:  El Paso, Texas at  Tom and Jean Pittman's home in *Wherry Housing near Biggs Base.
Who:  PittMama...nickname for Aunt Ella.  *Larry - Jean's son by former marriage. *Judith Lee born in January 1951 in El Paso and described as having her Grandmother's...PittMama...strong willed mind of her own.
What...I learned...There is more to a Photo than meets the eye!

More SuperSleuthing Questions!
Who took this picture?
What happened to Larry?
What is Biggs Base?

I bet I will find the answers to these questions in this book written about Tom Pittman.
It's where I found the * (asterick marked) facts in the Deductions.

*vip future references
*Camel cigarettes-the most recognized cigarette package even by children...
In 1991, the American Medical Association published a report stating that 5- and 6-year olds could more easily recognize Joe Camel than Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny or even Barbie.  (Wikepedia)  I was 4 years old and Tommy was 3 yrs. old.  Dad smoked from about the age of 10 years old until his death in 1988 of lung cancer. 

 *Maiden and Married names the SAME:  Sisters Stella and Ella Carroll married Brothers Chappo and Cobb Pittman.  This made their children including my Dad and Tom, Double Cousins.  It has been amazing to see how much the Cousins looked alike...more like Siblings!
A picture is Worth MORE than a Thousand Words...
...even without the
Who What When and Where's!