Thursday, November 26, 2020

Lottie's Photos: Thanksgiving Gatherings


Our family gathered on Louis and Anna's front porch.

While I was growing up the tradition in our family was that Mom and Marge shared responsibility for hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and whoever did not host would then be responsible for hosting that year’s Christmas dinner. It worked out well for decades. Both celebrations always included three generations of our combined families. Occasionally, someone would be added like Marge’s parents or a current boyfriend.

From reading mom’s diaries, I learned that when she was a girl, she and her parents typically had Thanksgiving dinner with Gramma’s brother’s family Henry Menge, so mom was with a gaggle of her female cousins. In 1933 they all went to Henry’s cabin in Ben Lomond for Thanksgiving dinner. They were with the Menges again in 1936. That year mom and her cousins strategized about how to convince Martin McTigue to take mom to the senior ball.

Dinner was at the Menges again in 1938 but by then Mom had met Dad so after dinner the two of them went to San Francisco with some friends. Anna and Louis hosted in 1939 and included Emma and John Thornally at their table since Mom and Dad were engaged to be married by then.

1940 was the first time Mom hosted Thanksgiving dinner. She planned it well ahead because on November 13th she wrote that she had asked her mother to help her prepare the meal. Afterward, she noted that dinner was fine. The following year Marge offered to host the combined family at her parent’s home and she asked everyone to contribute $2 towards the meal. In 1942 Anna Pattillo hosted. Emma Thornally had the honor in 1944 and served a roast chicken!

The last diary entry about Thanksgiving was for 1946. That year Marge offered again to host at her family home but the ante was only $1. Despite the reduced charge, Mom was fed up and refused to attend, and instead she decided to host her own dinner and invited the Pattillos who declined saying they felt they should accept the earlier invitation from Marge.

I started hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my home in 1977.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Cluvarius Coleman 1740 - 1799 My 5th Great Grandfather on my Father's Side


Abington Church in Glouster, Virginia where
Cluverius was born
Cluverius Coleman was my 5th great grandfather on my paternal line. He was born in Abingdon Parish which is in Glouster County Virginia. His parents were Joseph Coleman and Grace Cluverius so it is clear where his unusual name came from. Cluverius had five siblings – two brothers Thomas and Samuel and three sisters Elizabeth, Rebecca and Sarah. Glouster County was formed in 1651 and was a major tobacco growing area.

By 1760 Cluverius had relocated to Mecklenburg County where many of our Pattillo ancestors lived. Cluverius married Elizabeth Massey in Mecklenburg that year. They had nine children – four boys and five girls including my 4th great grandmother Rebecca Coleman.

Cluverius must have been a well-regarded member of the community because on October 13, 1777 he, along with five other men, was appointed as a Gentleman Justice for the county.[1] His term was renewed in September of 1778. Records show that on at least three occasions in 1776 and 1777 Cluverius was listed on polls taken to determine delegates for Mecklenburg County. Between 1777 and 1779 he witnessed three different deeds that were recorded in Deed Book 5 for Mecklenburg County.

Diagram from Katherine Elliot book of Mecklenburg
County showing the Buckhorn District that Cluverius
collected names of residents

Land Acquisitions

Between 1771 and 1797 Cluverius purchased twelve tracts of land and only sold one parcel as far as I can determine from studying the deed books for Lunenburg and Mecklenburg Counties. His first purchase, at the age of 21, was a 285-acre parcel in Lunenburg County located on the Meherrin River. Six of the deeds noted that he bought land on the Meherrin River. Most were on the south fork of the Meherrin and most of those were on the south side of the south fork but one was on the north side of the south fork. Other parcels were located on Buckhorn Creek, Laton Creek and Allen Creek. All of these parcels were located generally northeast of the town of Chase City which is very close to the town of Boydton – the county seat and the place where our Pattillo ancestors lived for four generations. You may ask how can parcels in two different counties be located in the same place? The answer is because in 1771 what is now Mecklenburg was a part of Lunenburg County. Mecklenburg was carved out of Lunenburg in 1765.

1870 Map of Mecklenburg Co. from the Library of Congress.
The Buckhorn District is the gray section on the top of the map
The purchases varied in size from a one-acre parcel that he bought from Anthony Street for 15 shillings to a 370 acre parcel he acquired in 1774 from Joseph Turner. In total he owned at least 1877 acres. That amount of land constitutes a plantation whereas total acreage of less 500 acres would have been considered a farm. His will noted that Cluverius grew tobacco on his plantation.

Two parcels were mentioned in his will when he left them to his son Thomas. Of those one had a mill on it. 

Census Enumerator

In May of 1782, Cluvarius was one of eight men who were appointed to record the number of tithables in Mecklenburg County which meant males sixteen years of age or older including slaves. This data has been used in place of the first US census taken in 1790 because the census was destroyed during the war of 1812. The district that Cluvarius counted was in the northern part of the county bordering Lunenburg County.

This is the list of names collected by Cluverius that were
published in lieu of the 1790 census which was destroyed.
In October of 1787, Cluverius was involved with an unusual and interesting court case. He submitted an application to be compensated for a slave he owned that had been falsely convicted of burning a barn owned by a man named John Thompson. The record of this case, dated October 24th noted that it included condemnation, a valuation and a certificate. Likely this was the same Mr. Thompson who was his neighbor on Buckhorn Creek.

One month later Cluvarius was engaged in another court transaction when he was named as the guardian of Elizabeth, Jane and Benjamin Coleman who were three of the four children of Cluvarius’s son James Coleman. It is likely that James’s wife, Sarah Whitehouse was still living but it was customary at that time for a man to be appointed as the guardian. The children would have continued to live with their mother but their grandfather was made responsible for their well-being until they came of age.

Will of Cluverius Coleman

On September 14, 1799 Cluverius signed his will. He was fifty-nine years old at the time and living in St. James Parish of Mecklenburg County. In his will he left his wife Massey the land they were living on and five slaves named Anthony, Bob, Primus, Hanna and Amey. In addition, she was to receive six choice head of cattle, one yoke (that’s two) of oxen, one ox cart, ten head of sheep, fifteen head of hogs, thee choice work horses, three choice featherbeds and furniture. He also left Massey his desk and a bookcase, one dozen setting chairs, two choice tables, and such household and kitchen furniture as she may stand in need of. His will stipulated that she should be given sufficient plantation utensils for her use and the crop of corn and tobacco growing on his plantation.

A clip from our family tree showing how Cluverius is
related to James William Pattillo, our great grandfather.
He left each of his son James Coleman’s children five pounds cash which was to be distributed to them when they came of age. That is the equivalent of $140 in 2020. His daughter Elizabeth Coleman Jeffries received one slave named Phebe and each of her five children got thirty pounds cash which is comparable to $838 today. The will offers no explanation as to why he gave so much more to Elizabeth’s children. Possibly he had already given James’s children, his three wards, other cash or property.

My fourth great grandmother Rebecca Coleman Phillips received one negro boy named Moses and one negro woman named Jenny and her increase, plus one hundred pounds to her and her heirs.

His daughter Mary Coleman Boswell’s five children received one negro woman named Abbe and her increase and thirty-five pounds cash a piece. His daughter Grace Coleman Hicks received one negro boy named Edmund and one negro woman named Rachel and her increase. Grace’s children also received one hundred pounds cash each.

His son John Coleman received one hundred pounds, and two cows and calves for himself and his heirs. Anne Coleman Green received five Negroes named Milly, Aggy, Jude, Mike and Sam, as well as a young unbroken mare of her choice, and two cows and calves for her heirs. Anne and each of her children received two hundred pounds.

Son William Coleman got the tract of land that Cluverius had purchased from Nevin Stewart and the tract he bought from John and David Holmes which he estimated contained 313 ¾ acres. This was the parcel that Cluverius and Elizabeth lived on at the time. William and his heirs also received five hundred pounds apiece.

Finally, his son Thomas Coleman and his heirs got all of his land lying on both sides of the Meherrin River including his mill. Anything not otherwise stipulated was to be equally divided between his sons William and Thomas, and upon his wife’s death they were to received everything that he had left to her. He also appointed his sons William and Thomas as his executors.

The will was signed by Cluverius and witnessed by John and Matthew Allen. It was proved in the Mecklenburg County Court in October of 1799. One month later Cluverius died in Mecklenburg County on October 14, 1799.

So, Cluvarius left his children and their heirs between five and five hundred pounds each that’s $140 to $14,000. Why the discrepancy? I don’t think we will ever know. From my experience in reading historic wills I would say that it is more typical that parents tried to provide a more equitable distribution except sons typically received more than daughters.

Map of the area of Mecklenburg where Cluverius owned land.
The black arrows point to the Meherrin River, the South fork,
Buckhorn Creek and the small creek at the top right may
be the Bare Branch.

[1] Nettie Leitch Major, Revolutionary Service in Mecklenburg Co. Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly 1982.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Lottie's Photos: The Van-Tillo Ally Painters, 1947


Mom, Dad and Terry with John Thornally and Clara
and Floyd VanEpps and their son.
Wherever Mom and Dad lived they made friends with their neighbors and kept those friends for the rest of their lives. This pattern began with Harold and Mickey Mohr and when they bought their first home on Elsie Avenue in San Leandro, they met and befriended Clara and Floyd VanEpps.

Mom and dad socialized with Clara and Floyd and they spent time entertaining each other in their homes. Mom and Dad went to the VanEpps one Thanksgiving, the following year they spent New Years Eve together. They went dancing at the German Club and the Alta Mira Club. In August of 1944 they all went to see a musical at Woodminster. Occasionally, they would watch each other’s children and when Dad went to the hospital to bring Kathy home after she was born Clara rode along with Dad and held Kathy on the way back.

This photo was taken over the 4th of July weekend when the two families worked together to paint one of their home. The following weekend they painted the other. Grandpa Thornally, sitting in the middle with his pipe and a hat on washed all the brushes and helped clean up each day. Looks like even Terry and the VanEpps’s son helped as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Lottie's Photos: Terry's First Birthday, 1943

Terry and Mom - both looking stylish
This photo stands out for me because it shows my mother looking rather glamorous. It’s not how I saw her but I think it may be how she saw herself – at least when she was that age. This photo was taken on Terry’s first birthday and he is looking quite smart in his sailor suit. Mom would have been 23 and everything she’s wearing says style – the flowing dress – no doubt one she made for herself and possibly designed, the shoes, the nylons, the necklace, her makeup and the hairstyle all look fabulous. Of course, her slender figure helps a lot too. I have that necklace now and remember her wearing it. It has 8 stones on the face that I suppose are small diamonds and inside there is a photo of her and my father. I don’t know for sure but it looks like it may have been a gift from dad.

The look she is giving Terry says a lot too – “we’ll young man, what do you think about being one year old?”

In her diary mom wrote that they went to see Bert and Marge, then both sets of grandparents. She recorded each of the gifts Terry received which included two bonds – one for $5 from Gramma and Grandpa Thornally and a $25 bond from her and Dad. I guess that was something families did during the war years. Somehow, there was still time that day for my father to plant vegetable seeds in his garden and to put a coat of varnish on Terry’s toy chest.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Lottie's Photo: Dad's Vegetable Garden, 1945


Kathy, Dad and Terry in Dad's vegetable garden

I love this photo partly because my father and siblings all look so adorable but also because it clearly shows how much pleasure and pride my father took in his vegetable garden. Practically the first thing Mom wrote about after they purchased their first home on Elsie Avenue in San Leandro is the fact that Dad was outside working on planting a vegetable garden. This turned out to be a life long endeavor. Years later when I was young I remember how Dad would come home from work, covered in white dust from the sheetrock he’d been hanging all day. He would make a mess of washing up at the kitchen sink. Then he would turn around, give my mother a big hug and a sloppy kiss.

Typically, he would take a nap before dinner, then after dinner, he’d be out working in his garden. We had an apple, apricot, plum, two orange trees and a walnut tree that all produced fruit and nuts. For many years there were blackberry vines and a few raspberries. Dad always planted a large area with corn, lots of tomatoes, multiple types of squash – all of which I hated, cucumbers, and beans. He also planted potatoes and onions which he stored in a dark shed after harvesting and they lasted that way for months. We also had rhubarb and artichoke plants. In later years, after I’d left home, he grew fava beans.

Prepping the soil, doing the planting and watering and tending all this was a big, on-going job. Most of the work was done by Dad but Mom and I sometimes helped with the planting and Terry and I were often charged with watering and harvesting. Throughout the summer mom did a LOT of canning and freezing to store the proceeds to last through winter – nothing better than home-grown corn from our freezer in December. Everyone was involved with pie making and fruit canning – Dad or Terry would pick the fruit, Mom would prepare it, Kathy or I would make the dough and assemble the pies which Mom would bake, and of course, we all enjoyed eating them.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Lottie's Photos: World War II, 1939 - 1945

Dad's brother Bert on the right, 1943

My father did not serve in the military during World War II but that does not mean our family was not impacted by the war. It is not something that our parents talked about – at least not during my lifetime which began five years after the war ended. Now, as I read Mom’s diaries, I am learning about the many ways that the war did impact them very directly and I can imagine that it would have been a stressful and frightening time. 

The war began in Europe in 1939 but Mom commented on the war very little prior to the bombing at Pearl Harbor. She made a couple of comments about Gramma Pattillo being concerned that Bert would be drafted but otherwise the war was not something she wrote about.

Then Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. On that day she wrote, “Today is a day that none of us will ever forget. Japan declared war on the United States. Over 300 were killed in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Two British ships The Repulse and Prince of Wales were sunk. We had dinner with Ed’s folks and had the radio on all afternoon listening to news reports. It made me so upset that finally I got Ed to take me to the show. Ma went too, but Pop stayed home and listened to the radio. The show was empty. Everyone was home listening to war reports.” 

The next day she went shopping in San Francisco with her mother and wrote that all the Japanese-owned shops were closed. There was a blackout that day and 30 Japanese warplanes flew over San Francisco. “Everyone is frightened.” 

On December 9th she wrote that her father did not get home from work until after 8:00 PM because he got caught in a blackout and traffic was stopped for 45 minutes. Over 1500 Americans had been killed, and the government was asking citizens to stay home at night, keep their lights off, and have sandbags and buckets of water handy in case of fires. Hundreds of people had quit their jobs so they could enlist. 

Mom even signed up for civil defense work but as far as she wrote she never actually did any, whereas Grandma Pattillo did volunteer work by folding bandages at the Oakland Army Base. Mom went Christmas shopping on December 10th but all the stores closed at 4:45 because of the danger of air raids. Then on December 12th she wrote about a blackout that lasted two and a half hours, so she and dad just went to bed early. 

Food rationing was another way they were directly impacted. Mom frequently commented on the difficulty of getting meat, butter and sugar. In March of 1943 she wrote, “we are allowed sixteen pounds per week of meat, cheese, oil and fat, plus 1 pound of round steak and one pound of butter.” Not only was the quantity of meat limited but the quality was also reduced. She noted that things got worse when her favorite butcher was drafted. Coffee was rationed and they were only allotted four gallons of gasoline per week.

During the war people were encouraged to plant Victory Gardens to help compensate for food shortages. Mom and Dad always had a garden and mom was doing a lot of canning of what they produced but finding enough sugar for fruit canning was a challenge. Dad was growing corn, carrots, beets, spinach, squash, cucumbers, cauliflower, tomatoes, lettuce, cantaloupe, beans, watermelon and parsley in his garden. 

The threat of Dad being drafted was a constant and kept changing throughout the course of the war. On January 3, 1944 he was notified by the draft board that his status was rated 1A. That was eleven days before Kathy was christened so he had a wife and two young children, which worked to his benefit. On February 18th they learned that he had passed his military physical and was told he would likely be called up in 21 to 90 days. Mom must have been worried sick. It was at this point that Dad started to teach mom to drive so she would be able to take care of things if he had to leave. 

Dad applied for a deferment but in April he learned that his application was denied. To avoid being drafted he had to find work in the defense industry, so for a short time in April of 1940 he worked with his father-in-law at Union Iron Works in Oakland. Dad liked the work and tried to join the union but the union bosses would not let him join, so Dad was forced to find work elsewhere. During this time, he worked for several different trucking companies delivering gasoline. 

Their anxiety would have been compounded as their friend's and Dad’s brother Bert were drafted or enlisted. Bert quit a job he didn’t like and to avoid being drafted he signed up for the Seabees. Mom has a few photos in her album that Bert sent home like the one above taken in 1943. Cliff Gossett and Harold Mohr, two of their closest friends, both enlisted in the Marines and coincidentally were shipped out, to San Diego for training, on the same day – May 22, 1944. The two of them fought in a battle in Okinawa. That same day in May, Dad’s draft status was changed to 2A until November 26th, so they had a six-month reprieve. Fortunately, six months later he got another deferment. Then in April of 1945 he was again notified that his status was 1A. This time he applied for a deferment based on his job at Union Iron Works. 

Marge’s brother-in-law Kenny Philbrick was sent to England for his service leaving his wife Mary and Marge to help with the milk delivery service he worked for. Ernie Moore escaped the draft when he was labeled 4F for having flat feet. 

In July Bert was transferred to Camp Hueneme which was near Los Angeles. Later he was sent to Rhode Island and Marge flew there to see him. In October he was home on leave and then he was sent to Hawaii, and then in March of 1945 he was sent to Guam. 

The Germans surrendered on May 8, 1945. That same day Dad’s latest deferment request was denied. The following month their very close friend Harold Mohr was injured during combat. A bullet hit him in the neck. Initially, he could only speak in a whisper and for the rest of his life he had a unique gravelly voice. Harold was transferred to Mare Island and for a time and he and Mickey lived together in a Quonset hut on the base. 

In August of 1945 she wrote that, “gas rationing ended, blue points were withdrawn, red points were lowered and lots of priorities and rules were changed.” In September their friend Cliff Gossett was sent to China but he was back in San Diego by December. Jessie left her newborn son Clifford with mom for a few days so she could go see Cliff. At the same time, Marge was looking for an apartment to rent in Alameda anticipating Bert being released soon. Bert and Cliff both got home on December 11, 1945, and everyone’s lives began to go back to normal.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Lottie's Photos: Mickey and Harold Mohr, 1946


Harold and Mickey Mohr with Terry
in Garberville, CA

I love this photo of Mom and Dad’s friends Mickey and Harold Mohr that was taken on May 30, 1946, with my brother Terry who looks particularly relaxed with them. Terry looks so cute in the shirt and jumper that Mom made for him and his two-tone saddle shoes. You can see that he is on his way to his six-foot four-inch ultimate height.

This photo was taken at a cabin in Garberville, California. Harold’s parents owned an inn there and that is where they stayed. Dad and Harold went abalone fishing with three other friends and between the five of them they caught 33 abalones.

Mom wrote that Kathy enjoyed the weekend but she said Terry didn’t but she did not say what he didn’t like about it. They went swimming in the Eel River and apparently spent the evenings doing some serious drinking because mom wrote in her diary of having a hangover the next day. Despite that she said it was a wonderful trip.

Their penchant for partying actually got both couples evicted from their apartments in January 1941. They spent so much time with Mickey and Harold during the early years of their marriage that Dad’s brother Bert actually complained of being jealous of their friendship.

Mom and Mickey stayed in touch with Christmas cards and occasional phone calls for the rest of their lives though their friendship was not as close in later years. Reading a diary from 1989 Mom expressed disappointment that Mickey and Harold did not attend their 50th wedding anniversary party. Then she chose to skip their anniversary a few months later.