May 26, 2012

1959 & 2005

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May 16, 2012

me & grandpa

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

my grandparents’ wedding day

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

Grandpa & Rocket in the backyard

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May 14, 2012

the Knight family

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May 14, 2012

Fannie & baby Bill (I think)

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

Joy & Bill, 15 Dec 1956

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May 14, 2012

Bill, Elinor & Doug

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

Robert Elliott Hail

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May 14, 2012

James Hail

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May 14, 2012


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May 14, 2012

Bernice & baby Robert, 1922

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

Bernice & Roy Hail

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May 14, 2012

Bernice Helen Knapp Hail

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May 14, 2012

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May 14, 2012

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April 1, 2012

27 Conduit St, London

This is where Thomas Henry Leitch did his apprenticeship to become a Master Tailor from 1833 to 1840. It is in the Oxford Circus/Hanover Square area, which today is a very posh and busy area, filled with high-end designer shops. Incidently, Banksy‘s “Falling Shopper” is on this street as well, which speaks volumes.

Unfortunately, today there isn’t much to see of 27 Conduit St, but I took what photos I could. The top part of the building looks quite old.

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April 1, 2012

St. Pancras Old Church, London

St. Pancras Old Church in London is where my great-great-great grandfather and grandmother, Thomas Henry Leitch and Mary Ann Peacock, were married in 1850. It is also where Mary Ann’s parents, John Dowsing Peacock and Elizabeth Pool, were married in 1823. This church has an amazing history and has stood there since 314 AD, making it one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in Great Britain.

An old lady at the church told us that many visitors from the US or Australia come to this church to see where their ancestors worshiped. In the 1800s, St. Pancras was a poor area and most people living there eventually emigrated elsewhere… Thomas and John were tailors, and Thomas emigrated to Canada some years after his marriage.

It was very special and exciting to see this place of family history. I imagined my great grandparents getting married here, walking through the gates and starting their lives here.

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March 4, 2012

Grandpa in WWII

Grandpa served on the USS Kadashan Bay CVE 76 during WWII, as the ship’s photographer. Here are some photos.

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March 2, 2012

Robert Hail


Robert Elliott Hail is my great-uncle. He was born 13 December 1921 in San Francisco, California to Roy and Bernice Hail. He was the older brother of my Grandpa Bill. I don’t know very much about him at all, unfortunately. I only know that he enlisted in the Marine Corps on 20 June 1944, and was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II on 7 March 1945. He was married but never had any children. Robert was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart, which was sent to his wife, who later gave them to Bernice. Robert was only 24 years old.

Robert was very handsome and looked just like his father Roy. He seemed like he was a lovely person and it was such a loss for our family. I really wish we could have met him, or that he had had children, that would have been our cousins. Not once have I ever heard Grandpa ever speak of him. But Grandpa was from the generation that Did Not Talk About Things. I imagine  it was too difficult for him. After the War ended, the Hail family was reduced to two people – Bernice and Grandpa Bill. I can not imagine how hard that was for them.

I wish so badly I could have met him. It was a great, great loss for our family and it was so cruel the way things happened. It brings me to tears whenever I think about it…. but that’s life. And that’s war.

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March 1, 2012

Bernice Knapp Hail

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February 29, 2012

Grandpa Doug and Mom

in 1962 or 1963.

February 29, 2012

Tilton House

I found not only the article I was looking for, I found a photograph! So exciting.

Fannie Tilton‘s mother Martha Crutchfield Tilton, was one tough lady. I will let the article speak for itself:

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February 29, 2012

Roy Lee Hail

February 29, 2012

places in London where my family is from


Hanover Square (Thomas Henry Leitch)

Marylebone (Elizabeth Pool and John Dowsing Peacock)

Lewisham (William Leitch)

St. Pancras (Elizabeth Pool and John Peacock were married here in 1823, as well as daughter Mary Ann Peacock to Thomas H. Leitch in 1850)

Shoreditch (Elizabeth Pool and John Peacock)

Stepney (Thomas Pool, b. 1765)

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February 29, 2012

Elinor Winsome Leitch Knight

Elinor Winsome Leitch was my great grandmother on my mother’s mother’s side. She was born 10 June 1902 in Maine to Reverend Frederick A. Leitch and Lyda Elliot. As an adult, Elinor discovered that when her father had filled out her birth certificate, it simply read “Winsome Leitch.” She was the youngest child, with an elder brother Merrill (b. 1896) and sister Fredonna (b. 1899). Aunt Donna was a great friend to Elinor’s daughter Joy in their later years.

Elinor grew up in New England. She was known as a great reader by all who knew her. As a girl, she would often hide up in her father’s church’s belltower to read books and eat chocolates. When her mother would call her, she’d pretend not to hear! Elinor attended a physical education school in Boston. She later became an athletic director, before her marriage.

Elinor met her husband Douglas in Maine, and they were married in the summer of 1925. Their first child Douglas Jr. was born just a few months later in September. By 1930, the young Knight family had moved to Abington, Pennsylvania. Their daughter Joy Evelyn (my grandmother) was born there in 1932.

Elinor and Doug were very active people and loved golfing, gardening and raising dogs together. They retired to Mesa, Arizona in their later years. Elinor passed away in 1973.

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February 28, 2012

Douglas Ewart Knight

  Douglas Ewart Knight is my great grandfather on my mother’s mother’s side. He was  born on 29 October 1897 in Boothbay, Maine to Chester Claude Knight and Nettie Greenleaf Crawford. The Knight family had been in Maine for several generations, dating back to the 1600s, beginning with George Knight (1640-1773) of Bristol, England.

According to his daughter Joy (my grandmother), his parents were farmers. Doug spent two years at Bowdoin College, but was forced to drop out because he had no money left. He was too young to enlist for World War I, and I don’t believe he served in World War II.

In 1925, Doug met Elinor Leitch in Maine, and they were married that same year on 17th July. They both loved to golf and were very active people, and always had English setter dogs. Every year, they would rent houses in Cape Cod. Doug sold World Book Encyclopedias for a living. Elinor and Doug retired to Mesa, Arizona in the 1970s.

Joy described him as smart and fun-loving, and a good father. I don’t know very much else about him, unfortunately, as he passed away in 1982, just three years before I was born.

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February 28, 2012

Leitch Family Photo

top (l to r): Douglas Ewart Knight, Lyda Elliot Leitch, Elinor Winsome Leitch

bottom (l to r): Rev. Frederick Arthur Leitch, Merrill Leitch, Fredonna Leitch

As you know, Douglas and Elinor are my great grandparents and Frederick and Lyda are my great-great grandparents.

February 28, 2012

Frances “Fannie” Tilton Hail

Frances “Fannie” Tilton Hail is my great-great grandmother. She was born in Randolph, Missouri on 2 January 1868 to James B. Tilton and Martha Crutchfield. James was a carpenter and contractor. Fannie had one sister, Norah, born in 1870.

Fannie came to California in her early teens in a covered wagon from Missouri, in 1876. She worked in her mother’s boardinghouse growing up. By my guess, she married James Hail in the late 1880s or early 1890s. This was her second marriage, her first with a man named Terrill. She would marry for a third time to a man named John (Jack) Becker. I don’t know any of the circumstances of her three marriages, unfortunately. My research shows that James Hail died on 20 August 1908 in Athens, Texas. But with him, she had two children, Howard (b. 1891) and my great-grandfather Roy Lee (1894-1929).

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February 28, 2012

Origin of the Hail Family

Through some research today, I found that the Hail name and family comes from Hales Place in Canterbury, Kent.

At some point, working backwards down the line, Hail becomes “Hale” and finally, “de Hale.” It is a noble name, leading directly to King John I Plantagenet on one side and on the other to Swedish kings.

The Hail family emigrated to Massachusetts in the early 1600s, making their way slowly across the country over the next few centuries, before finally settling in California.

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February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012


… yes, I am still here. Taking 18 months off from this blog/project was not what I had intended, but here we are. My only excuse is that I was earning my Master’s Degree, and during that time I was insanely busy. I had all kinds of plans to find some of my ancestral sites, but as the information has been very difficult to find, it got put on the back burner. So, I will ask:

Does anyone know which cemetery in Lewisham, London that William Leitch (1791-1874) is buried in?

I lived in London for a year and a half and could not find that information. Someone has to know… anyone?? Any information you have, please tell me.

One good thing did come… a distant relative (through the Leitch line) contacted me this summer. Unfortunately, we did not get to meet as he lives in Wales and I was too busy to follow up. On a search through tonight, I found he had added another image of my great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Henry Leitch (son of William).

Thomas Henry Leitch (credit: Andrew Leitch)

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October 31, 2010

finding ancestral birthplaces

so I am here living in London now, and it’s always been a dream of mine to see the birthplaces (and gravesites if possible) of my ancestors.

The Leitch family hails from (no pun intended) Middlesex and Kent. I’ve made a family page for them with all the photos I have, so be sure to check it out. Kent still exists, but Middlesex does not.  It was absorbed by the expansion of London in both the 18th and 19th centuries, and now is only known as an area of the city.

To see the birthplace of Mary Ann Harriet Peacock, 1829-1898 (married to Thomas Henry Leitch) I would need to go to St. Pancras, Middlesex. When trying to Google this location, I didn’t get any results. Basically, St. Pancras is now known as Camden – where I’ve already been. My friends and I like to go to Camden for the open air markets and fantastic people-watching. I can’t believe I walked around an ancestor’s birthplace and didn’t even know it. Of course, this happened to me when I went to Nice, France – my great-grandfather Roy was stationed there in WW1, and the only photo of him I have was taken on the same beach I vacationed at – and had no idea.

Christiana Mills (Thomas’ grandmother – sorry, no picture!) was born in Southwark, Middlesex in 1755- where I’ve also been – it’s a stop on the London Underground when I was on my way to Borough Market for an applefest last weekend.

William Leitch, 1791-1874 (father to Thomas, son of Christiana) was born in Kent but died in Lewisham, another borough of London. I mostly definitely want to take a train there to see if I can find his gravestone. I also plan to go back to Camden and Southwark to see what I can find.  There is a site for the Lewisham Local History Society, which I’m happy I found so I have a place to start looking.

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May 2, 2010

site updates

I’ve updated the site a lot, so please be sure to check out all the family pages above (Knapp, Hail, etc.). I’ve got some great new things to share so don’t miss it!

April 30, 2010


I remembered I had uploaded this video to youtube a few years ago, so here it is for all your viewing pleasure. Can’t remember how I got a hold of it, but, anyway. Things start getting interesting around the 1:25 mark where Grandpa suddenly decides to dance with the bride and busts a few moves. You can totally see his personality in it… about half-way through he gets self-conscious and wants to stop but then keeps going for a few minutes before he spies Jim. The nice part is that he sits down right in front of the camera so you can just see him for the rest of the video.

I myself, along with my mom, make a little cameo in the corner…. Grandpa was dancing with us before!

April 25, 2010

fun fact

One of the kings my family is directly descended from is King John ‘Lackland’ I, made famous from the Robin Hood stories. Well, he was a real person, and is being portrayed in the upcoming Robin Hood movie with gladiator Russell Crowe in the title role.

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April 14, 2010

Christian Young, 1830-1911

Christian Young was Bernice’s grandfather, her mother’s father. I had only recently discovered his name who he was, or anything at all about him….

He was born in 1830 in Alsace, France, but of German descent. He came to America through Philadephia in 1847 when he was 17 and made his way to Menomenee, Wisconsin by 1850 with his parents and younger sister.

He married Sophia M. Koeppe (1840-1920) in 1855. Their first few children died very early on but they went on to have at least 8 to survive into adulthood. My great-great grandmother Adaline (Bernice’s mom) was their 5th child, born in 1872.

They moved to Galena, Illinois in 1860, where Christian was a flat boatman, a farmer, and a carpenter.

When the Civil War hit, Christian enlisted in the Illinois 96th Infantry Regiment, Company K as a Private in 1863. They mustered out (what does that mean? I can only guess “set out for battle”) on June 9, 1865. Christian was transferred to the 21st Infantry and was there for another year, under Lt. Ulysses S. Grant in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. What a miracle it is that he survived… or else hundreds of people in my family would not be here today!

Now, I had had a feeling that Christian fought in the Civil War. But up until today, I could not find any records indicating that the Christian Young that was related to me had fought. There were several Christian Youngs listed from all over the country, and even a few from Illinois. Today, I was just determined to figure it out. It took me over an hour of cross referencing, looking up new leads, hitting dead ends, but I finally found it. And when I finally saw the right page, I just knew it. It was like he was saying, Yeah, that’s me. And what was so exciting about it was that his enlistment page had his physical description. He had brown hair, grey eyes, fair complexion, and was 5’8.” I wish I could have seen the actual page instead of a transcribed record, so I could have seen his signature.

After the war he went back to Illinois to his family. At some point he became a dairyman. He died in 1911 at the age of 81 in Jo Daviess, Illinois.

I’d like to find out more about his daughter Adaline, who was my great-great grandmother. She died in 1901 at the age of 29 and I don’t know why. I’m hoping to find a death certificate, because there might be a cause of death on there. Both of her parents out-lived her and it is very, very sad. It’s why Bernice left home at 16, because she did not like her stepmother (if there were other reasons…?).

Sophia Koeppe was Christian’s wife. She was born in Mecklenburg, Prussia (present day eastern Germany) in 1840 and came over to America in about 1847 as well. I wasn’t able to find out anything else about her life, only that as it relates to Christian’s. She married him at 15 and they were married for 56 years. She died in 1920 at the age of 80 in Illinois. So far I have been unable to find out anything about her parents or anything else of her life. It gets harder and harder to find out stuff the further back you go, especially when you have to look into other countries. I don’t know what I’ll be able to find but I am very hopeful. I was beyond thrilled with what I found today and I think I can dig up some more!

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April 9, 2010

I decided to do some more work on the Hail side today, and I found a lot. But I am confused. Let me show you.

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Does anyone notice anything here?? There is a married couple with practically the same last name. I was told it was probably a coincidence. ok…. I thought they might have been cousins but their families don’t match up.

Also, the last name “Hail” is spelled so many different ways…. Haile, Heal, Heale, Hale, Heales, Hales… sometimes within the same family. Sometimes the name drops off entirely for a few generations and then resurfaces again when it feels like it.

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PS that chart is from 1504- 1550 England.

The more research I did, I think the Hail name, however it was spelled, might have been a big name, or at least a common one, in 15th-17th century England. I found a lot of “Sirs,” “Captains,” “Esquires” and “Dames.” And! I do think Martha and Frank Hail were distant cousins because I went as far back as I could on both Hail/Haile lines and this is what I found for both of them:

It was exactly the same – identical – for both of them. They were distant cousins. This chart is from the year 1400 – 1463 in Kent, England.

April 9, 2010

Roy Lee Hail

This is my great grandfather Roy Lee Hail, Bernice’s husband. This is all I know about him: He was born in 1893, named Leroy but changed his name to Roy Lee when he was older. He was a native of Chico, California and was a teacher and an athletic director. He also was a World War 1 veteran who served in France first as a private in the 140th Infantry, 35th Division, and rose to the rank of Captain. This photo was taken when he was promoted in the army in 1918. He  had been a manager for Standard Oil Company for ten years in San Francisco and Berkeley at the time of his death at age 35.

I have just one letter he wrote his mother during the war.

Dec 5, 1918

“Dear Mother,

“Just a few lines to let you know I am in Paris on my way back to my Regiment.

“I expect to see the King of Belgium who will arrive in Paris today and to see many of the other interesting sights and leave tomorrow. Am enclosing little snap shot taken at Nice, France. This is the 1st picture you have of me as a Captain. It is only a small snap shot, but not so bad.

“Am enjoying myself very much on my vacation. Lt. James who has been a pal of mine ever since I went to Oklahoma is with me and we have plenty money so are just living like kings and enjoying ourselves while we have the chance for we may never get another chance to see Europe if we return to the U.S.A. now.

“Hope you all are well.

“Love to All.

“Your Loving Son,


I went to Nice, France last year! I ran around on the beaches. I wish I had known that he had been there all those years ago, that would have been really cool.

Bernice just loved him so much, and apparently he was so much fun! I think my grandpa looked like him a lot. I wish I knew more about him but there is no one left that knew him…. only Bernice and she passed away right before I was born.  I bet that Roy and Bernice were such a fun couple.  I think about these two a lot and am dying to know more about them…

April 8, 2010

Bernice Helen Knapp Hail

Bernice Helen Knapp was my great grandmother on my mother’s side, born in 1898 in Illinois. She was my mother’s father’s mother. I never knew her but I always felt very close to her, and my mom says that I remind her a lot of her. I hope I am like her. My mom says that Bernice liked things “to be pretty” (and so do I). She hated her name and liked to be called “Betty.” I wish I had more photos, but she was very beautiful and she looked very kind and beautiful inside as well.

From what I know, she left home at 16 years old. Her mother, Adaline Young, died when she was only 4 years old. Her father remarried and I once heard whisperings that she did not like her stepmother, who was a very strict woman…. Where did she go in 1914, and why? Was she alone? I think she went to live with her aunt and uncle.

Well, I have one letter she wrote to her sister Mildred in 1921 right before her wedding to my great grandfather Roy Hail. I love this letter.

Fresno, Cal.

Feb 2, 1921

“My dearest Mildred:

“Honestly honey, am all run out of excuses, telling people why I haven’t written sooner so will have to tell you the honest to gosh truth, I’ve been chasing around so much and really attending to so many things, I’ve thrown everything else to the winds and given all my time to those other things.

“As you see, I am now down in Fresno, staying for a few weeks with my auntie and uncle [Ben & Cora Knapp] with whom I used to live in Oakland. But I’m down here for a purpose of course. Have been head over heels in dressmaking ever since I’ve been down here, and still am but am coming along famously. Have my wedding dress nearly done. The embroidering is all finished and is done in this darning stitch, about eight inches deep in the shirt. If you want to look up Pattern No. 2738 Butterick, which shows the way I’m making it. Very simple but awfully pretty I think. Here is a sample of the goods.

“I’m sure you want to hear about everything so am going to tell you about our plans.

“We will be married in my auntie’s home, the 20th of this month and are going to decorate the whole house in Peach and Almond tree blossoms. Won’t that be sweet? Then we all are going down to a big cafe her for the wedding breakfast. After that, Roy and I will depart for the south driving down in the car. But best of all honey, we have a wonderful brand new home all ready and waiting for us to move in. Roy just bought it a few weeks ago and really it is a dream. I can hardly yet make myself believe all these wonderful things are happening and I’m really going to have a home, all to my own to live in. I have been without one ever since I was 16 you know, so can you blame me for being so happy. I hardly know just how to explain about the house to you but will try. It’s so hard to do it justice. Well there is a wonderful big living room with a fireplace, built-in writing desk, bookcase, etc. Lovely dining room with a built in buffet and beautiful indirect electric fixture over the table. French doors between living room and dining room. Two darling bedrooms, big kitchen with a tiled sink (bathroom is also tiled) and an adorable breakfast room which I am going to furnish all up in wicker. There all wonderful hardwood floors throughout the whole place – a regular dream home but Roy and I call it our “Love Nest.” We have wonderful furniture to go in it too but will tell you about that after we get all settled. Goodness, doesn’t that sound funny.

[part of the letter is missing]

“…hat and one of the real big gray vails which hang way down to your shoulders. Won’t I look bridey tho!

“Must tell you a funny experience I’ve had while trying to practice up in the art of cooking. Decided to try my luck with a cake. Was just going to put it in the oven when I discovered I had forgotten the eggs. But it was too late then and into the oven Mr. Cake went – eggless n’ all. It rose perfectly lovely and turned a beautiful bronze but to save my life, I couldn’t get that cake out of the pan. At first I treated it gently, then got rough, but nothin’ doing. It was there to stay. Both my auntie and I struggled for quite a while when finally to our horror, it gave one awful sigh, shimmied, and fell into a thousand pieces (curtain) (behind the scenes). Served as a pudding in little dishes with lemon sauce on top, to be eaten with a spoon. That, along with some cremated bun completes my week’s practice. Poor Roy, he will be a regular hero when I get thru with him.

“Do you know I’ve been sending so many snap shots away lately, I haven’t a single one to send to you, but you head the list for the next one sent out. I sure want you to get at least an idea of what Roy looks like. Nothing like the original tho’, of course. Will love to hear from you again soon.

Love, Betty.

I have many questions. Why was her sister not at her wedding? My think it was because she was too far away. How did Bernice and Roy meet, and how long did they date before becoming engaged?

I have one more letter of Bernice’s, where she writes of her home and misadventures in cooking after she was married.

March 15, 1921

“Dear Ol’ Pal [Mildred]:

“Was so glad to get both your letters. You see I haven’t answered the one sent to Fresno yet so will answer them both now.

“Really dear, I hardly know just where to begin telling you about everything. I have so much I’d like to talk to you about and I would take forever to write it all.

“Well first of all I’ll tell you a little about our wedding. It was all simply perfect. The house was a regular bower of almond and peach blossoms, also sweet peas, ferns, palms, etc. Roy brought me the most beautiful bridal bouquet I have ever seen of bridal roses and lily of the valleys with oodles of ferns, ribbons, etc. I wasn’t at all nervous, neither was Roy. After it was all over and I had been kissed all around, I had put on my new suit, hat, fur, etc and we all went down to a real classy cafe for our wedding breakfast. Am enclosing one of the place cards. The table was decorated just beautiful and the wedding cake was wonderful. It was a great big two tier affair all covered with fancy white frosting — the kind you always see in the bakery windows. After that was all over, Roy and I got away just as quickly as we could but not before they all had thrown about a carload of rice at us. I had to empty out my hat and pockets.

“Of course our trip all thru the south was ideal and we both had such a wonderful time. Believe me honey, Roy is there a million when it comes to showing you a good time. The best is never good enough for us. Ha Ha. The hotels were beautiful every place we stopped. I believe I sent you a picture of one of them. We came back the coast route, driving nearly all the way right along the edge of the ocean. It surely was grand.

“Now we are getting all nicely settled in our dear little home. I wonder if I have described it to you or not. I hardly think I have, so here goes — There are six rooms, bathrooms and backporch with stationary tubs in it which I try not to notice very often. Anyway I send out all the washing except my underwear and the laundrys are so hard on things like that. All the floors are beautiful hardwood and the elec. light fixtures are beautiful too. The dining room has one of these big indirect dome-like lights. Everything is so nice and new. In the front room we have  beautiful Anglo Pershian rug…. Ooooooo; and the loveliest overstuffed davenport rocker and large chair, covered with blue velvet velour, all in a raised design. Of course there us a fireplace and over the mantle which extends all the across the end of the room, we one of these long “Garden of Allah” pictures, also two brass statues and two lovely Oriental vases. Roy’s grandmother gave us a piano so you  see I can peg away with my music too. We are going to get a long fern basket after a while to put in front of the window. Almost forgot to mention out floor lamp which is a beauty too.

“…Really honey, it seems so strange to have a home all to my own and to really take my clothes out of my trunk. I haven’t had them out for over eight years.

“And oh we are so supremely happy. I don’t see how heaven could be much more of a paradise. Roy is so wonderful to me in every way — no matter how small a detail. And if I want the moon, all I need to do is ask him for it.  Ha! Ha!

“Well I surely have raved on a long time about just is, but know you are interested in all our plans.

“Really dear, it makes us simply heart-sick to hear about how sort of unhappy you are, and how you are losing weight etc. I think you need a change if only for a short time and can’t think of any better place than California. I run the car all over now and we could have such good times together chasing around in it. Don’t you ever think my dear, just cause I’m so happy, I’m going to forget you for one little minute. It makes me wish all the more that I could share it with you.

“Am coming along famously with my cooking. Golly you should see some of the creations I manage to put together. The other day I made some orange pudding. I asked Roy if he had ever eaten anything like that before and he said, “I never had to.” What do you know about it but he liked it anyway as he ate two big dishes of it. But guess he gets lots of new sensations eating all the different things. I like to make  all the things with pretty names.

“I had a very unfortunate thing happen to me on the way back from Pasadena. Lost the jacket to my brand new suit and had only worn it a few times. We drove back over 30 miles looking for it but couldn’t find it. Last Saturday we went over to San Francisco and Roy bought me another one. It really is a peach and I like it really better than my other one but it sure was terrible to lose it.

“Am sure the silver cake knife is going to be just lovely and it is something we haven’t got either. I’ve made one cake and two pies already so you see how much I’m going to use it. Thanks so much honey. It hasn’t come yet.

“Must close now but do write soon again. I always love to hear from you.

“Lots of love, Betty.”

Roy died in 1929, 2 years after my grandfather was born. He was in the trenches in France in World War 1 and he was gassed, perhaps many times, and it damaged his lungs. When he caught pneumonia when my grandfather was 2, his lungs just couldn’t take the strain. Bernice never remarried. I asked my grandmother why, and she said that she just never found anyone as special as Roy.

Also, her eldest son Robert (my great uncle) was killed in action at Iwo Jima during WWII. He received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart, which was given to his wife and then later to Bernice. He was very handsome and looked just like his mother.

I feel so, so sad that her son and husband were casualties of war. She wanted a home and a family so much, and only had that for about 8 years before becoming a widow with 2 young sons. I can’t imagine what that was like – this was the 1930s, when it was so much harder for women. My grandma said she had to work very hard, she went to work in a bank and as a secretary.

My mom said she always remembered Bernice as an excellent cook. I think about her a lot and wonder about her life, especially in the ’20s and ’40s (which are my favorite decades of the 1900s).

When I get more pictures I’ll be sure to post!

(click on it to make larger)