Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Monroe Hawver Really Was Killed

Benjamin Monroe Hawver with 5 Children 1921
Benjamin Hawver and hs first 5 children
It's been somewhat of a mystery for as long as I have been researching him.

Monroe Hawver was the father of Benjamin Monroe Hawver, who went on to have 7 children and a very large clan that has extended down 5 generations full of descendants.

Benjamin's story is that when he was a teenager, he ran away from home because his step father, Ezra Pullen, beat him and treated him so bad that he couldn't stand it. He was later reunited with his mother (Julia Frances Keith) in San Fransisco after she left Mr. Pullen. In San Fransisco Ben met his wife to be, Magdalena Gall, and then off they went.

So if Ben ran away from his step dad, who was his real dad?

His name is Monroe E. Hawver. He was born around the year 1845 in the Wisconsin Territory (before it was a state). His father moved their family on a wagon train to California sometime in the early 1850s, and by 1860 they were living in Gilroy, CA.

On Sept. 6, 1874, Monroe was married in Hollister, CA (near Gilroy), to Julia Keith.

Hawver-Keith Marriage - Sacramento Daily Union 15 Sept 1874

A few years later, their son Benjamin was born in Hollister on Sept. 22, 1877.

Benjamin Hawver Birth - Sacramento Daily Union 3 Oct 1877
Then by the 1880 census, Julia and their son Benjamin were living on there own.

Hawver Julia 1880 Census Watsonville, CA

So what happened to Monroe?

The story that was passed down and later transcribed was that in 1879, Monroe was killed in an argument over a horse. I even had heard in the telling of it that it was a knife fight.

Years of searching online had not been able to confirm his death. I couldn't find a grave, or a death certificate, or a newspaper story. Now a death certificate was going to be hard, since the state of California didn't require standard death certificates until 1905. Before that each county had different ways of record keeping, if they even kept records at all. And as far as newspapers? I was assuming that his death might be listed in one, however not all newspapers from every year and every town have been digitized, so searching is only available online for certain papers and years.

It wasn't until just recently I came across this story in a more recently digitized paper, the San Jose Mercury-News. This story was published on June 15, 1883.

Monroe Hawver Death - San Jose Mercury-News 15 Jun 1883
As you can see this story was about the death of Monroe Hawver that had happened tree years previous. Amazing. Also - Soda Springs, Idaho? That was new. So I did a search for Jesse Powell in the Idaho digitized newspaper archive and then came up with this gem, published in the Idaho Semi-Weekly World on August 10, 1880:

Monroe Hawver Death - Idaho semi-weekly world August 10, 1880

As you can tell from the two stories, Julia thought that the killing was not Monroe's fault. I'm more inclined to side with her, but there is no way to know for sure. I'm just extremely happy that I now have been able to confirm the story about being an argument...over a horse...even with a mention about a knife. I'm also super pumped about having a death date: July 29, 1880, and a death place: about 18 miles from Soda Springs, Idaho Territory (Idaho wasn't a state yet). So, happy 140th death anniversary today!

I'm sure there will be a little bit more to find eventually, since there was an original story written in a California newspaper, as referenced in the first story apologizing for being wrong about not believing his death. I hope to find that one and others in the continuing stories that this family has, buried in history.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Mom and Pa Swanson

Elva (Swanson) Earls took the time to type the family history of her parents. I must say it has been somewhat difficult to outline her older siblings' names, and her parents' siblings names and dates, but this transcription has been a good starting point that has helped to make a framework that I could fill in with more details.

"Mom & Pa" wedding 1897 in Finland
Mom's father was a glass cutter. He supplied the panes for many windows in his area. Pa's father was a ship's carpenter and was at sea much of the time. Mom had 7 brothers, while Pa had 5 sisters. They were married May 16, 1896 [1897]. The wedding festivities lasted at least 3 days. There was a band hired for extra music.

Children started filling the cradle early on. By 1901 there had been 4 boys born to the couple. Two had died within 3 months due to scarlet fever.

Financial problems encouraged him to borrow money from her parents to build a boat. Being a carpenter, this had value to it. His father being a ship's carpenter, checked out the results and pointed out the fact that the boat was too small to be used on the seas and too big to serve well on the smaller bodies of water.

Not being able to repay the loan, it was decided that he should go to America, get a job and pay off the debt. So in April of 1901 he left Finland for the U.S.A. The ship docked on the east coast, having passed the Statue of Liberty. For a while he worked in Worchester, Mass. for $1.00 a day. About this time he changed his surname from Svenn to Swanson. (His first suggestion was Svansen but Mom said, "That interprets to TAIL in Swedish and I do not like it as a name".)

In the meantime her brother Reinhold was in San Francisco, Calif. living in a two flat house he owned at 1050 Carolina Street. Before long Pa moved to San Francisco where there was plenty of carpentry work. Being a hard worker he always found a job and kept it until the project was completed. His big problem: - he was a spender, not a saver, so he did not send money regularly to pay off the debt in Finland.

Some of the children left in Finland with family.

Knowing something had to be done Mom left the children in Finland under the supervision of relatives and went to America, possibly by 1904 to manage his income. While she was here a daughter, Linda Viola was born to them. In 1906 they were living in the area of Harrison and 4th Streets when the famous "earthquake and fire" occured. The street in front of their building cracked and there was quite a large opening there. Up until the time of the fire they had 14 men living in their flat paying "room and board". 7 came in for lunch every day and Mom packed lunch bags for the other seven daily. The debt to her parents was paid.

Since their area was so affected by the quake and fire, they all stayed temporarily in Golden Gate Park with hundreds of other homeless persons. After the fire she returned to Finland taking their daughter with her. She was pregnant at the time and their 5th son was born in Finland. One of the older boys had a growth in his throat which the Doctors could not remove; it took his life. One of the boys knowing he was going to die in talking about going to be with Jesus said (in regard to himself), "But it takes so long". He wanted to go to be with the Lord quickly. Linda Viola and the new baby did not live very long after Mom got back to Finland, and with all of those first 6 having died there she left, once again for America in June of 1909.

Alfonse, Felix & Viking I
(all died in Finland)
Alfonse, Felix, Linda Viola & Viking II
(all died in Finland)

Arriving in San Francisco at Reinhold's flat (where Pa was apparently staying) her greeting from Pa was,"If I knew you were coming, I would have left". It may have been at this time that she went to Oakland where her brother Alfred and his family lived. He had a stonecutting business. Living across the street from a cemetery he made monuments. The dust from cutting the stone finally produced a condition that took his life. It may have been during this visit that he helped Mom get a housekeeper's position at the large Morse home. This was Mr. Morse of the Ferry Seed Morse Company who lived not far from Alfred's home.

Carolina Street, San Fransisco
Eventually Mom and Pa got together again and moved into the upper flat of 1050 Carolina Street. With plenty of work for Pa, and Mom being frugal with his earnings they soon had enough money to buy some property. They settled for a lot 5 spaces to the north of Reinhold's place. Already their family was beginning to grow again. The next step was to borrow money from other Swedes to build a house for them. Mom, being the gentle person that she was, had no problem finding those who would loan her the needed funds. Reinhold, being an architect, drew up the house plans.

Before long that lot was being prepared. A cement retaining wall was poured across the back and part way up the sides of the lot as the hillside was so steep. This made it possible to fill in dirt until the backyard was flat, level with the top of the retaining wall. When the house was finished, it was 2 stories in front and 4 in back.

Elva Swanson
By the time it was far enough along to be moved into, in 1913, there were 3 children again in the family, the youngest being less than 1 year old. The final count was again, 6 children, but this time there were only 2 boys, and 4 girls. Viking, born June 9, 1910, Linda born November 14, 1911, Leopold (Paul) born October 21, 1912, Hilda born January 14, 1914, Elva born October 31, 1916 and Viola born April 27, 1919.

About 1921 Pa was sent to work in Concord building the Bank of America (Bank of Italy then). He liked the area and in that year Mom and the kids moved into a house in Pacheco, 2 miles out of Concord, supposedly for the summer. Pa and the boys had gone there first to clean out the house as "road workers''had used it as a temporary home and the floors had to be cleared of caked dirt. "Summer" stretched into 3 years! Pa continued to live and work in San Francisco, visiting with the family on weekends.

Mom & Pa with 6 kids and 3 cousins
at 1020 Carolina St. San Fransisco
Since Mr. Hart, our next door neighbor in San Francisco was in the trucking business he was our mover. Thinking the high schools in the City would be better than the small Mt. Diablo High in Concord, and Viking just graduated from the eighth grade, it was decided that the family should move back to San Francisco, which they did in 1924.

In 1926 Reinhold passed away. His property was turned over to Mom who eventually "paid off" her brothers for their portion of its value, getting a clear title to it. He also left a car, on Oakland, which then gave us a means of transportation. In the summer months, being school vacation, Mom had the kids and herself travel to San Jose where all were involved with picking prunes and cutting apricots, Vike sometimes helping in the fields with pickers. Being old enough to drive, Vike was always the one in charge of the car. We never asked where our earnings went, Mom just took care of everything. The last summer we worked we earned a total of $300.00. There was enough there so Mom made the final payment on the loans to build the house, and Vike to enter Healds College.

Mom was naturalized as an American citizen in San Francisco on February 5, 1940. At that time she dropped her middle name, Sofia and changed her first name to Mary from Maria since most folk called her Mary. I never learned when Pa became an American citizen but it must have been soon after he arrived in America.

After 55 years of marriage, in 1951, Mom having an angina condition, was instructed by Dr. Null to separate herself from Pa if she wanted to continue to live. His verbal abuse was becoming too much for her heart to take. She obtained a "separate maintenance" degree and moved into the then empty lower flat of 1050 Carolina St. In the settlement she was given 1050 and 1016 Carolina St. while he retained 1020 and a lot he had purchased on top of the hill. Some years earlier, Mr. Hart had passed away and Mrs. Hart had offered the house to Mom, payments being interest free, and Mom persuaded Pa to buy 1016. The rental money paid the monthly installments.

1947 Mom & Pa Swanson 50th, with grandkids

This was 1950 and Elva was living at 1016 with her family. Before long, Mom, in hope of moving out of San Francisco, started looking for a house to buy in Concord. Viola and family were living there as Norman was stationed at Pittsburg. Paul and Fran lived in Martinez, Vike and family lived in Sacramento, Linda and family were in the "Wilson District" south of Yuba City, and Hil and family were in Pendleton, Oregon. Mom learned of a two bedroom house in Concord on Almond Ave, 2509. She fell in love with the little garden house in the back yard. She sold 1016, bought the Almond Ave. house and Elva and her family moved to Concord in September 1f 1952, glad to leave the City.

Later Mom sold 1050 and moved in with Elva's family. It was not all that crowded because behind the detatched garage was a room that served as Bob and Gene's bedroom. Mom had a bathroom added to it so it was quite comfortable out there. When the boys left for Pasadena College she had a large room added to the existing one making it into an apartment into which she moved, herself.

Since moving to Concord Mom went back to San Francisco a few days each month to do Pa's laundry and clean house for him. She said all was well for 2 days, but if she was there for 3 days he started to gripe again. One day we got a phone call from one of the Stones, saying Pa was in the hospital. He had suffered a stroke. Sander often went up to Victor's house, and he always saw Pa sitting in a chair in the front yard. It happened that on this particular day, Sander realized he had not seen Pa so he went in to find if he was well. He found Pa slumped over, half way out of bed, called for an ambulance and later called us in Concord. After recovering, he seemed quite well for some time. Later he had another spell and he was finally moved to a "care home" in Martinez, in 1957. He was there a number of months but did not make any progress.

One day while Paul was visiting Pa, he asked Pa if he wanted to be ready to meet the Lord. By this time Pa could not speak, but motioned "yes". Paul asked if he wanted the Lord to forgive him of his sins, to which Pa motioned "yes". Paul prayed and Pa motioned that he accepted Jesus as his Savior. It was a good day for us. About 10 days later the lady of the "home" realized that Pa was deteriorating quickly so she called us to learn if there was any place to which Pa could be moved. Her "home" was supposed to be for ambulatory cases only, so if Pa died under her care she could have a real bad problem. Pa was brought by ambulance to Mom's apartment where he lay in a bed in her kitchen. The next day Efraim came into our house and said Pa was dying, did I want to go out to see him. I went there immediately, but he was already gone. His forehead had a large red area as from a burst blood vessel. His final stroke! He was buried on his 80th birthday! It was March 27, 1958.

For many years Mom had a migrain headache practically every night. During the daytime she was fine. when these headaches came she would brew a pot of coffee and sit and drink it and finally be able to sleep. Not too long after P died Mom, having one of her head- aches, fixed her coffee. Holding her filled cup, she backed up to sit on a chair, missed it and fell to the floor breaking her hip. She lay on the floor all night and was found the next day about noon. Elva had not checked on her that morning as that routine had been broken when Mom went to visit one of the other children for a while. She was taken to the hospital in Martinez where she underwent surgery. All went quite well and when she was released she stayed with Viola and family until she was able to return to her apartment. At that time Vike had a telephone installed there for her.

She enjoyed living there for some years, being able to see the garden and garden house she loved. She kept busy at her loom weaving rugs, knitting a pair of sox for Loren and various other things. Finally it came to the time she sold the house to Elva. She moved in with Viola and family for a period of time, returned shortly to Elva's and then on to Vike's in Sacramento. After a while she developed an infection in her gall bladder, was taken to the hospital, and in 23 hours the Lord took her home to be with Him. She was 88 years of age when she died, 8 years after Pa. She was buried on March 8, 1966. Both Pa's and Mom's funerals were warm with the presence of the Lord.

*Mom said that about the time for their first child to be born she and Pa had gotten into the habit of drinking Sherry. When she found herself taking a drink each morning, she realized that this was becoming a bad habit and if there was to be any spiritual leader in the home, she had to be that one. She never took another drink.

Monday, June 22, 2020

A Trip to Ellis Island

My kids on the ferry to Ellis Island
Last summer, my family took a trip and visited Ellis Island. I was interested in seeing this place because a number of my ancestors would have come through these halls, including my direct Broersma ancestor, Lawrence Broersma (or Laas, as he was named in the Netherlands).

My great grandfather Laas Broersma immigrated to the United States on his own when he was just 19 years old, in June of 1920. We don't completely know the reasons why he left, but it most likely because they were very poor in the Netherlands and America was still very much the land of opportunity.

He wasn't going to completely start off by himself though, his older brother Thys had already been living in America for about 6 years. Even still, that must have been an adventure getting on a boat and crossing the Atlantic by himself about 7 months after World War I had ended.

He sailed on the SS Noordam.

Noordam Postcard ca 1910

Here is is entry on the passenger list (I edited the list since his name was on the very bottom, and not near the column information).

Ellis Island - Broersma Laas crop

When he arrived, he would have disembarked here, at Ellis Island in the New York harbor.

Ellis Wide

After getting off the boat, this is the building he would have entered.

Ellis building 1

Then he would have had to pass through these halls, standing in a long cue in order to make it through immigration and customs.

Ellis hall 2Ellis hall

After standing in line, he would have had to present his passport and get his visa to enter into the country.

Laas Broersma Passport

It's now been exactly 100 years since his immigration to the USA. It was really fun and interesting to see this place where so many immigrants have passed through.


Monday, December 2, 2019

Oliver Orrell's Unknown Grave

It took many years, but I finally figured out where Oliver Orrell is buried.

Oliver was born around 1837 in Indiana, and then served in the 82nd Indiana Volunteers in the Civil War. He enlisted in August of 1862 and was only in the service a few months before he died in November. With the help of someone else researching, they had some more details about his death:

So I knew that he died of Typhoid in a field hospital in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I assumed that he was buried there in Kentucky. Well, turns out I was right. He was buried there initially, but then was re-interred in the Nashville National Cemetery. This cemetery was established in 1867. Then in 1869 they published a list of names of the interred and where they came from. Here is a caption from the introduction of the document:

The total number of dead interred in the cemetery is sixteen thousand four hundred and eighty-six, of which twelve thousand four hundred and eighty-seven are known, and three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine unknown. Of white soldiers there are fourteen thousand five hundred and seventy-seven, and of colored one thousand nine hun­ dred and nine. The number of regiments represented is seven hundred and thirty, and of States and independent organizations thirty-one.

The bodies interred in this cemetery have been gathered from an extensive region of country, along the Cumberland River from Carthage on the east to Clarksville on the west; from the line of the Louisville and Nashville and Northwestern railroad to the Tennessee River at John­ sonville; from the Edgefield and Kentucky and the Memphis branch of the Louisville and Nashville railroad; from Bowling Green to Clarksville; from the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad to Lavergne; and from all intermediate and adjacent country; from the Nashville battle-field, and many of the skirmish grounds in Southern Kentucky, comprising those originally collected and buried at Tompkinsville.

So in that honor roll listing I was able to find Oliver. The top image has the categories, but you can find Oliver [Orill] on the lower page.

Unfortunately, he is listed with an unknown headstone, and we do know know which of the unknown headstones is his. But now at least we know which cemetery he is officially in.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Lawrence & Allene Wisner Family History Interview

This is a transcription of a video interview from 2008 by Sheree Morrison for her son Bennett’s family history report for 3rd grade. The first part is Lawrence speaking, and then at the end is Allene.

Lawrence S Wisner
family ca1910
My grandfather was named Lawrence Smith (Wisner), his middle name was Smith, from Illinois. I have no idea why they came out to California, probably to get rich. Oregon and Washington was the land of money, ya know. I heard that my great grandfather, I don’t know what his first name was, but he left Illinois on a wagon train headed for Washington, and they never heard from him again. So they don’t know if Indians got him or whether he just failed to write.

[note: Lawrence B. Wisner's great grandfather was George A Wisner. George moved to central Washington around 1901 and died there in 1905. By then wagon trains were no longer in use. Lawrence S. Wisner, with wife and son Ray C. Wisner moved to the same area of central Washington, lived there for a few years, before moving to central California.]

Raymond C Wisner Family

When I was young I was picked on by a couple girls…my sisters. I was in the middle, Ruth was the youngest and Millie was the oldest. They would gang up on me all the time. That’s the reason I’m so short! We got along really good though I guess.

Millie and Lawrence
I was born down in Chowchilla, California in 1924. Then we went to Lindsey, CA. Then we went to North Sacramento, that’s where I was in the 1st grade. And then we went to West Point. We moved so much cause we had ants in out pants I guess! We were lookin’ for greener pastures I guess. My dad was a butcher. In Chowchilla I think he got involved in a slaughterhouse.

Hess Butcher Shop Chowchilla, CA
Ray C Wisner center in white coat

And then he got his own meat market, or was working in a meat market there in Lindsey. Then he went to North Sacramento and he had a market there or worked in a market. And then he got sick – he was going in and out of the cooler so much, and so we went to West Point, CA and got a job to herd goats on horseback. I was in the 1st grade and Millie was in the 3rd, and we had to walk I guess a good mile and a half to catch a station wagon (or bus) that came by, and we’d go and sit up on this rock and wait until this bus would come, and they’d take us about a mile. And the schoolhouse is still there, but it’s now turned into a house though, residential. But if we missed the bus, then we’d have to walk the rest of the way.

West Point Church
And that’s when my dad got saved, there in West Point. They would have missionaries come and have special meetings and stuff. Joe Kirk was the preacher for the little country church. My dad had been a good Methodist and he got to reading the New Testament when he was riding the horse there, chasin’ the goats, checking on the goats. And so my dad went over to Joe Kirk’s house, and knelt down by a chair in their kitchen and accepted Christ. My mom just came along, I guess he influenced her. We attended the church, but she never did make a statement when. She just always went along with my dad.

Then we went back to Lindsey, got a job, and we lived in a garage with all our stuff, and Millie don’t remember that. And he was earning money to go to Huntington Park, CA, where the Training School for Christian Workers was. And he graduated from there, as a preacher. Later, the school moved and is now Azusa Pacific University.

My dad helped develop the Evangelistic Tabernacle Church in Mt Shasta. On a summer break while attending school (1934), we went up to Mt Shasta and he worked in a Sunday School and helped organize it into a church. It started as a Sunday School by a man named Conner. My dad helped build the church building. They tore down a dance hall and used the lumber to build the church. As far as I know there’s never been anything built on the lot where the dance hall was. I was in 3rd grade. Then we went back to Huntington Park in the fall, and he finished his schooling.

After graduating in Huntington Park, we moved to Rail Road Flat, CA. He was a part of the American Sunday School Union. They were an organization that went around and built Sunday Schools in out of the ways places. And he organized the Sunday School there in Rail Road Flat into a church, and it’s quite a going church now. We had services in the schoolhouse. But they have since then built a new building out a ways there, and it’s going pretty good.

When I was in school we had a chapel time, and I heard a message, and I was just 10 years old, and it was about Daniel. So I was laying in bed, and I got to thinkin’ about that and so I went in to my mom, she was in the kitchen (we were living in the school house then) and I talked to her and we kneeled down to a chair and that’s where I accepted Christ, and it’s made a difference all along my life.

My dad was a night watchman at McCloud’s Saw Mill. He walked around with a punch key. He would go in and punch his timecard to prove that he had been there as he walked around the mill. He had a big clock that he wore.

And then from then, Millie graduated from 8th grade there in Rail Road Flat. And so my dad heard about this Christian school in El Monte, CA, called H.E.I. (Holiness Evangelistic Institute). We needed money to go down there, so my dad went into San Andreas and worked in the cement plant, and we were there for a little while.

Then we went to El Monte, and my dad took the job of dean of boys, there at HEI, and he taught school too I guess. That’s where Allene and me met. We were at school together, in the 7th or 8th grade or so. We took Spanish in the same class. Miss Avery was the teacher. Millie and Allene were in the same grade and became close friends before we even paid any attention to each other. He preached at Bethel Church on Elliot Street, that’s where we got married.

Lawrence Wisner's 8th grade class at HEI

While there at HEI, there was some people by the name of Mathes, that started this Sunday School in their house. And my dad went over and helped them organize it into a church.

From there my dad moved to east Los Angeles. I don’t know how he got the property but his parents passed away in Lodi, so he sold their house for $900. He was looking around for a house to move to. Then the war came and he didn’t settle on a house so he went to east Los Angeles and got reclaimed lumber (that’s where they would take old beams and saw them and make boards) and he built a church there. And I think it’s a Mexican church now, I heard. And he was there quite a spell.

From there he went back to Mt Shasta and that’s where he helped developed it into a church. And that’s where he retired too.

The Military
We were drafted and we were in for the end of the war, plus 6 months. I had to register when I was 18 years old, and 6 months later I was in the military. They sent me my draft notice. Everybody was anxious to go then, there wasn’t all of the wrangling and stuff that there is now. In January (1942) there were about 11 people that I knew, they got their draft notices and I didn’t. And so in February I got mine. And these 11 people all went to a different place. They went all they way from Maine to Florida to down in Texas, and I was kinda anxious to go cause I can get outa California, cause we (our family) went from one end to the other and couldn’t get out. So they drafted me and they took me to Riverside. So the basic was there, and for our advanced training we went out to Barstow and back. We were in what they call the coast artillery. These were ground mounts, 50 caliber on a post. And when we’d move we’d have to break it all down and put it in the trucks. But then somebody got the idea well putting these guns on a half-track. And so we found out later we were an experimental outfit to see if it would work. And so we travelled from Riverside out to Barstow out in the desert out there, and back and forth. And it was very successful actually. We went through the coast artillery and went through our basic and when they changed us over to half-track we went through basic training again. That’s probably one factor is because we was as accurate as we were.

I was in the service a year when we got married. I came home on the last furlough and got married, before going overseas. The reason I wanted to was because the government would give the wives benefits, and I think it was all of $10 a month.

We were in the Sur Valley, protecting the 26th infantry, and they lost about 75% of their division. So they were sending these new recruits in, and everything was kinda quiet, so they said we’ll send you back to Metz, France, and we’ll send these new recruits over there. And they put them through basic training again, to give them some training.

I got my feet not frostbitted, but we had to wear leather shoes for so long, no place to dry them out, we just wore wet shoes, so my feet were what they call trench foot. I had a big blister on my heel, it was about the size of a quarter. And I had walked (and I still do) on the ball of my foot, on the toes. It got so painful that I was just standing on my toes. And I’s standing by the kitchen range cookin’ breakfast, the Lieutenant says “Wisner, does your feet hurt that bad?” and I says they sure do! And he says why don’t we go to the hospital and they can see what they can do for you. So I went in and the doctor took a tweezer and he pulled the skin up and sliced it, and made a V-shape and let the blood out, cause it was inverted see, it wasn’t sticking out, it was into my heel.

I was there for a couple of days and the Bulge broke out, and they (my outfit) got orders to go and fight up there. And so they got orders to come over to get me to take me back in there. We were sittin’ in the office of this hospital, kind of a waiting room, and I says I’d like to go back to the outfit, but I don’t know where they are. And they says well you’ve got all of your papers right in your lap so if you left nobody would know anything about it. So I guess it was a couple hours and then they loaded us into a truck and took me into a field hospital. Then they came over to take me back to the outfit, but they didn’t know where I was, and that’s the day the Bulge broke out, and of course we (our outfit) was right up there on the front line into Belgium. And so I know the folks were at home prayin’ for us, and got me outa there. 
Feb. 1945, after returning
to his outfit

And from then I went from the field hospital, and into a hospital in Paris, then they loaded me up onto a train (all because of trench foot. I couldn’t walk on it, and I was putting salve on it), and then took me back into Normandy to another field hospital. They said your next stop would be back in England and I says “I don’t want to cross that English Channel again!” So they said to only other option you have is to go back to your outfit, and I said ok I’ll take that. So they found out where the outfit was and they loaded me in a 2 and a half-ton truck and got me up into the Metz hospital again. And there was snow on the ground. They issued us rifles. And they took us out to shoot the rifles, laid us all down in the snow, we was just out of the hospital. I stayed there for 3 or 4 days and they found somebody that knew where the outfit was. So I went and got in a Jeep and got to the outfit. But I’m sure the folks’ prayer was what cleared me out of the Battle of the Bulge.

Post War Jobs
I put in Wisner Rd. in Mt Shasta. In Mt Shasta, we chopped the brush. We were a good half a mile off the main road. We were driving on the dirt, and built our little house and garage house. Then I went to the county and I told them that we need to make a county road out there. And so he got a paper and wrote it out. It went past our house and up to Millie’s and tied back into the other road, Pine Grove I think. So he says what will we name this street? I said I don’t know. He says “what about Wisner Rd?” I says “well, OK.” That bothered my mother. She said “why did you call it a road? It could have been an avenue or boulevard or anything!”

When we got out of the military they gave us the GI bill, to subsidize our wages. And so I took that up. And I got $90 a month for that. I worked as a plumber. I hired on to a plumber to work for him as an apprentice. And I got just about that much from the plumbing too. The plumbing was kinda slowing down, it was wintertime, and there was an opening at the school. The plumbing union out of Redding wanted to send me to Susanville and give me journeyman’s wages. But our kids were just getting started so I says no I think I won’t so I took the school job. Then I worked as a school supervisor, in charge of the cleanin’ and the maintenance. And stayed there for 12 years.

We lived there for a long time. I got it just about where I wanted it, ya know fixin’ things up, and then we sold it and Lorene graduated from High School and Ray was finishing up his sophomore year, and I had a chance to come and work down in Carmichael. A fellow that I knew had got me in.  So in ’64 I started working at the school district. We rented the first year that we were down here in Carmichael, and we built this house. This is where we’ve been ever since. Now were stuck with a house and were gonna have to turn it over to you kids and wonder what you’re gonna do with it!

Allene Wisner
Allene Orrell, age 4
My name is Jennie Allene Orrell. I don’t know why I go by Allene, that’s just the way it was done. That’s just what the family always called me.

I was 4 when I became a Christian. I wasn’t really old enough to go to school. My mother wanted me to learn how to read and so she spoke to the teacher that was teaching at the school if she would teach me to read. They had a chapel upstairs and that’s where we would go to church. I remember this time, as far as I can remember I was the only one that went forward. And I can remember the spot at the altar, and the preacher prayed with me. And after the service was over with he took me down into the dining hall, they boarded some students there too, and they had this long dining hall and kitchen, and in the pantry they had these peanuts in the shell, and he took me down there and got me a handful of those (chuckle chuckle). The name of the school was Old Paths.

The Orrell siblings: Edgar, Elvie, John and Allene

That place raised broom horn(?), and they manufactured brooms there. We were there until I was I think 13, and then we moved to El Monte.

Ruth, Millie, Allene 
We moved from Arkansas out to California and they stopped along the way you know. My dad would work a while, anyway it wasn’t a rush trip or anything. Our dad had took us to this school he had heard of, a Christian School there in El Monte, called HEI. That’s where we met. Larry’s sister (Millie) was in the same grade I was, I was in 8th grade. So we were real close friends, the four years we were there.

My sister (Elvie), she was the oldest, she went to what used to be Beulah College, down in southern California. The rest of us went to this school (HEI), but my brothers were enough older than me. They were gone by the time I went through.