Tuesday, January 28, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks - Week 4 - Orem Lancaster

Orem Lancaster was born in the small farm community of Josephine in Scott County in April 1900.  When he was little he had a goat that pulled a wagon.  All of the neighborhood children wrote Santa a letter requesting "Orem's goat and wagon" for their Christmas.  He was so afraid that Santa would take his goat that on Christmas Eve he slipped out to the barn and slept with the goat so Santa wouldn't take it.

Orem's mother died when he was 10 from TB and his father moved to town.  Orem graduated from the Millersburg Military Academy and attended the University of Kentucky for a year.  He met his wife, a student at Georgetown College while he was attending school and working as a janitor at the newspaper his father owned.  When he got married he had fifty cents and a bicycle.  His first business adventure was a partnership with a local judge in an oil and gas company.  This company was bought out by a larger, national company and Orem took his talents to the ice business.  He started selling ice for ice boxes and added milk and ice cream.  His delivery wagon was pulled by a pony named Silver and the local children would buy ice cream to give to the pony.  During this time he had his only child, a daughter, my mother.

In 1947, Orem decided to retire, so he bought a farm and started a dairy.  In 1958 he sold his cows and retired again.  But he was intrigued by the idea of building homes on a slab.  He was told that he couldn't do that in Kentucky because the weather was too damp and the slabs would always leak.  He set out to prove "them" wrong and built three slab houses, which we still own today.  He then retired from the building business and got into real estate.  He owed two laundromats and many residential properties.  In 1963 he decided that there was a need for "city" water in the rural areas of Scott County, so he formed a water company and brought water to the northern and eastern parts of the county.  After this company was purchased by a neighboring water company, he retired from this in 1973.
Orem, his daughter Eleanor and his wife Eleanor in 1969

Retirement this time meant fishing and spending time with his three grandchildren, but in April 1974, his passed away.  Orem spent his life with hard work and never taking "No" for an answer.  He loved to tell stories and talk. He was always ready to help a neighbor or friend or even a stranger in need.  He was a strong christian and made sure we went to church every Sunday as a family.  I miss him every day and I try to be a better person because of his influence.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 3 - Belzora Castle

Belzora!  Doesn't that make it's own statement!  I just love the name, but my children are all very glad that I didn't find her in time to name any of them after her!  Belzora comes through my husband's family - she is his great-grandmother.  I don't have any photos of her, but I would to find one.

Belzora, one of nine children, was born to Eli and Martella (Castle) Castle on 15 May 1879.  She had a twin sister Victoria, who died before 1900, along with their mother.  Belzora lived her entire life in Johnson County, Kentucky and probably never left the county.  Her father was a farmer.  Education was not a big priority for this family - her parents, her husband and Belzora never learned to read or write. She married James Daniels sometime around 1904 (I'm still looking for a marriage certificate) and they started their married life as a farmer on a rented farm.  They moved between 1910 and 1920 to their own farm, but on the 1920 census James listed his occupation as a miner, as were most of the men in Johnson County.  James and Belzora had ten children between 1904 and 1920.  Her father Eli, moved in with them in 1920 and was on hand to give information for her death certificate when she passed away on September 6, 1923 from TB.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

52 Ancestors - Week #2 - Elmo Howard

The Howard brothers and their father.
Elmo is the third from the left in the middle row.
Of all of my ancestors my uncle, Elmo, is the nearest and dearest to my heart.  Elmo Urton Howard was born March 30, 1921 in Woodford County, Kentucky.  He was the fourth of nine children in the farming family.

Elmo's father not only farmed his farm, but also the farm that his father had left to him, his two brothers and sister, and also the farm owned by his mother.  Elmo and his six brothers worked hard to keep all three farms running and profitable.  During the summer before his senior year of high school, Elmo was putting in hay when he suffered sun stroke.  During his recuperation the doctor told him (and his father) that he was not to do anything that he did not feel like doing for the next year.  This put him behind in school and he was not able to graduate from high school.  He did return the next year and finished, but by this time he had decided to join the Navy.  Although his parents were against it - his father wanted him on the farm and his mother wanted him to go to college - Elmo enlisted September 9, 1940, promising his mother that he would go to college after his enlistment was up.  He was assigned to the USS Arizona.

Elmo was sent to Seattle, Washington for optic training.  In September 1941 he completed his training, returning to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona.  On December 7, 1941 the USS Arizona and most of her men were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Elmo was originally listed as Missing in Action, but that was soon changed.  His body was never identified.  After the war a family member heard a Pearl Harbor survivor on the radio in Indiana saying that when the bombing started he was on deck with Elmo Howard, but there was a huge explosion and Elmo disappeared.

Elmo's mother wanted to go to Pearl Harbor to see the memorial, but was never able to take the trip.  Two of his brothers have donated DNA to the Navy in the eventual possibility that there may be a time he can be identified.