Spring at Last

After this long, cold, scary winter, it’s wonderful to be able to go outside without a winter coat and boots. Of course there were some bright spots in the fall. breeding season was fairly smooth. But Priss kept coming back into heat so she could spend more time with her handsome ram, Briar.

Priss and Briar

The sunset came earlier and earlier but with the flies gone we could switch to deep bedding so we didn’t mind putting the sheep to bed earlier.

Glorious Sunsets Every Night

Virginia devised a contact-free feeding system using a large funnel and some pipes for Briar and his buddies for when I was feeding on my own. Briar figured it out real fast.

Briar with the new feeding system

With the heavy snowfall all the sheep could do was stand outside their shed in a small cleared patch. It was a great relief when it melted.

Finally the snow melted

When it wasn’t too cold there would be lots of snuggling. Stirling still liked to climb in my lap.

Out of boredom Stirling taught himself a trick.

Stirling’s Trick

Finally April came and the lambs began arriving. Last year we had bred late and got five ram lambs. This year, we decided to test the theory that you get more ewe lambs if you breed early. It worked! All girls. The first to deliver was Ella and this time she decided she would let the lamb nurse so no more headlocks. We named the lamb Billie and she is just as friendly as her brother Stirling.

The next day we stepped out of the shed and the was our first time mother, Little Bit in labor in the yard. She had twins with very straight, black fleeces. They will probably turn grey just like their mother. And like their mother, they are very shy. They are Trixie and Mimi.

The last to arrive was Savannah’s little girl, Taylor. Her chocolate fleece will probably turn light like her mother as well.

As adorable as these little girls are we still had lots of the animals needing some loving. It’s a full time job.

Then there are the worst dogs ever.

Nothing tires them out

Cider House, Part 7

Now that the long, cold, snowy and thoroughly depressing winter is over, it’s time to move upstairs to add the floor above the lower level. Then we can have barn dances and parties and such. But before Virginia and Michael can do that they have to replace another sill and somehow get the last floor joist in.

The last joist goes just inside here

There are several problems to deal with here. The new sill is almost in place but must be shoved under this post over the interior stone wall. On the right, behind the staging, there is another post that is too short. Then the new joist has to go inside behind these posts.

Ironically, the sill goes in first to sit under and support the posts. A cant hook and mallet do the trick.

The short post gets an extension so it will sit on the sill. The other post is securely locked in place.

The left end of the sill will be attached to what’s left of the original sill. Here you can see the gap where the last joist has to go. It will be partially supported by the dropped header below.

The sill in place

Now, on to the joist. First Michael gives it a few final touches with a chisel while Virginia finishes rebuilding the stone foundation under the sill.

Using log rollers, timbers and various tools, Michael aims the joist toward its final resting place and shoves it in.

After a lot of finagling, the tenon on the end of the joist sits above the mortis where it’s supposed to go. Using the staging and the hoists, Virginia maneuvers the other end while Michael pries the tenon down towards the mortis.

All seems to be going well and they are ready for the final push.

No one panic

Not to be deterred, they use the hoists and a rock bar to get the joist back into position. All that’s needed now is a little nudge.

Stoppa stoppa

With the one end in place Michael lowers the other end onto the center stone wall. Originally, there was a mortis and tenon on this end as well but the stone wall works just fine.

Pusha pusha

It’s still stuck, but with Red supervising all it takes is a final stomp to get this end in place.


With all the sills in this half of the cider house repaired or replaced and the joists in, the floor can finally be laid down using new 1 1/2 inch planks. The old floor boards have been power washed and are now being used as siding.

For the first time I can stand in the middle of this room and look up at the beautiful interior structure. Happy days.

Now that the north half of the cider house is just about complete, Virginia, the former scenic artist, starts the onerous job of painting it with a combination paint/stain. Barn Red, of course.

Murder, Mayhem and Madness

Wow, where to begin?  The Buttes were a very accomplished bunch.  All the ones that I knew (aunts, uncles, cousins) were brilliant.  It’s tempting to just give you the list of their accomplishments written up in their obituaries.  However, it’s more fun to hear the stories.  So here goes.

Charles Felix Butte-Caspari was born in Holland in 1830.  His parents were from Italy.  They apparently never immigrated. In 1853 a “C. Butte”, born in 1831, arrived in New York on the F J Wickelhansen.  When he next appears in the 1880 Census, he is married with three children and is a civil engineer in San Francisco.  His wife, Lina Clara Stoes, was born in 1850 in Austria and came to America alone in 1868 on the ship Hermann when she was 18 years old. 

She gives no profession but is listed as being in a “cabin upper level”.  Somehow she or her parents, or maybe her future husband, managed to pay for this.  Somehow Charles and Lina met and married, appearing in San Francisco in 1880 with their three sons, George, Charles and Paul, who had been born there.  The eldest, George, was three years old, so Charles and Lina married in about 1876, several years after her immigration. In 1886 Charles received a patent for a fruit drying machine. He is later listed as a superintendent at the California Dryer company. Charles and Lina remained in California until their deaths in 1900 and 1910.  However, somehow young George was in Texas at age 9 living on a farm.  But before we get to that mystery, I have to tell you about Charles’ other son, Charles.


Charles Felix, his father’s namesake, was a prosperous civil engineer and San Francisco “clubman”.  He married Lenore May Hughes in 1907 and they had three sons.  But in 1934, Charles divorced Lenore, and, that same year, married Emily Maude (Rice) Zigler, “well known in San Francisco and Indianapolis social circles”.  Though what she was know for, I cannot say.  Lenore then sued Emily for $100,000 for Alienation of Affections and Charles turned “approximately $500,000 in property over to his sons”.  This notice gives a little of the background of Charles’ relationship with his first wife.

The resulting financial distress proved fatal.  Using a “curtain pole”, Charles “bludgeoned his socially prominent wife and then heeded her dying request for a farewell kiss”.

Two psychiatrists agreed that Charles “was perfectly sane when he clubbed his wife to death” just  before their second honeymoon after a six month separation.  “She opened her eyes after I struck her the last time and said ‘kiss me goodbye-I’m dying,’” Charles told Detective Yoris. “I knelt down and kissed her and then she was dead.”

But aid was on the way.  Charles’s brother, George Charles Felix Butte (I know, it’s confusing) was reported to be arranging to fly from Mexico to Seattle to provide legal advice to his troubled brother.  

You see, George had made a few headlines himself.  He had been the Dean of the Law Department of the University of Texas, the Republican candidate for Governor of Texas, the Attorney General of Puerto Rico, Vice Governor of the Philippines, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.  He could probably have gotten Charles off even after he kissed his wife goodbye.  George, the accomplished brother for once, is my ancestor.

But, in the end, George didn’t come.  

Charles died in Walla Walla, Washington at the age of 63 after serving a life sentence and apparently getting paroled at some point.  But that’s not all.  Of the three sons of Charles Felix and Lenore, one was named … wait for it … Charles Felix Butte. However, he always referred to himself as Charles Butte.

The immigrant Charles Felix Butte-Caspari’s eldest son, my great grandfather, was George Charles Felix Butte LLB JD.   The Buttes were worse than the Renfros in unimaginative names.  He named one son George and another, my grandfather, Felix.  

Anyway, as I mentioned before, George Charles was to come to the aid of his murdering younger brother, Charles, in 1938.  But he didn’t.  He was in Mexico at the time and died there two years later, at age 62, of an “intestinal blockage”.  But in those 62 years he made quite a few headlines and was the predominant topic of conversation at our family gatherings with the Butte aunts and uncles in Austin and San Antonio.  There was a great deal of pride in his accomplishments and they are so numerous that I could never keep them straight.  George even had his own Wikipedia entry but it disappeared for some reason.  Here’s part of it:

Butte was born [in 1877 in San Francisco, California, to Charles Felix Butte and the former Lena Clara Stoes. When he was nine years old, Butte’s family moved to Hunt County, east of Dallas, Texas, where he was reared on a farm near Commerce and attended public schools.

In 1895, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Austin College in Sherman. He moved to Dublin in Erath County near Stephenville, where on August 21, 1898, he married the former Bertha Lattimore (November 23, 1878–July 13, 1926). Thereafter, he received another bachelor’s degree and in 1904 a Master of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin.  He studied at the University of Berlin in Berlin, Germany from 1911–1912, and received a degree in jurisprudence from the University of Heidelberg in Germany in 1913. He also studied at the École de Droit in Paris, France. Butte was admitted to the Texas bar in 1903, the Oklahoma bar in 1904, and the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1907.

From 1904-1911, Butte practiced law in Muskogee, Oklahoma, when he left the practice to travel and study in Europe. During World War I, Butte was chief of the Foreign Intelligence Section of the General Staff of the U.S. Army, based in Washington, D.C., with the rank of captain and then major.

Now I can tell you the rest of the story.  Notice that George received his first bachelor’s degree in 1895 when he was 18 years old.  Then, after he married, he received a second bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas in 1903.    

One of George’s daughters, Pauline, was an avid family genealogist. According to Aunt Polly’s research, young George went to live with his maternal uncle, Henry Stoes, at Rockwall, Hunt County, Texas in 1887, at the age of 10.  This was long before the scandals in San Francisco, so he wasn’t being sent to get away from all that negative attention.  But that also would mean that Lina Stoes did have family in Texas.  I was able to find Uncle Henry in a later census record in Las Cruses, New Mexico.  But I don’t know why young George was raised on a farm in Commerce, Texas.  And, of course, we don’t have the 1890 census to verify any of this.  The town of Commerce, also in Hunt County, is very proud of its history. “In 1885, the year of incorporation, Commerce had twelve businesses in addition to a hotel and livery stable, a wood shop and wagon factory, and a steam mill and gin, as well as a church and school.” The biography above says he came with his family to Hunt County in 1886.  According to the Census, his father died before 1900, but I don’t know where, and his mother, who died in 1910, and brothers remained in California.  So why was he sent to Texas? I don’t know.

But it’s a good thing he was because George Butte and Bertha Lattimore met and were married in 1898 in Erath County, Texas, where Bertha’s mother, Sarah Catherine (Shivers) Lattimore lived.  Hunt County and Erath County are on opposite sides of Dallas.  Maybe they met in Dallas.  

Bertha was the first wife of George Charles Butte and the mother of all of his children, including the first born, Felix Lattimore Butte, my grandfather, who was born in Sherman, Texas, north of Dallas in 1901.  Bertha’s brother Samuel, that “strong and cultured young attorney”, as we will find out later, followed them to Muskogee and remained in Oklahoma the remainder of his days.

Bertha died young at age 49 in 1926 of a ruptured appendix, when her youngest child, Pauline, my Great Aunt Polly, was just 9 years old.  Aunt Polly wrote this about her memories of her mother:

Because I was not quite nine years old when she died, I have only snatches of memories which I believe are distinct from the things told to me later about those early years.  I remember her singing the old favorite hymns as I stood very close to her in church. She had a sweet clear singing voice and was often asked to sing at friends’ weddings—some of her favorites were “Oh Promise Me” and “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms”.  Trying to write this evokes a deep sadness (and a lump in my throat) because I lost her so early in our lives together. 

I’ll cover the Lattimores and their ancestors in the next post. 

I never met my great grandfather George, but the thing I remember the most was hearing about his third marriage to a Filipino woman, Angela Montenegro, whom he met while serving as the acting governor of the Philippines.  Although this was somewhat scandalous, the grownups all agreed that she was a lovely woman and made George very happy.


One thing that was not discussed in any detail was the nature of his run for Governor of Texas in 1924.  Based on appearances, he was entirely surprised to be nominated by the Republican Party.  Then Dean of the University of Texas Law School, he was returning home from Europe when he received the news.  “I was overwhelmed,” he said on his arrival in New York. “I am virtually a nobody in Texas politics. Why, I wouldn’t recognize the State’s political leaders if they strolled down the pier to meet me.”  

The thing the grownups didn’t even whisper about was the influence of the (un)desirable Ku Klux Klan vote.  If the Republicans were to have a chance at winning the Governorship, they could not afford to alienate the Klan.  The importance of the Klan vote was evidenced by George’s need to defend himself by stating “I am not now and have never been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. I have not now and never will have any alliance with it.” 

The former governor, and husband of the Democratic nominee, “Ma” Ferguson, charged that, failing to find anybody on land, the “Republican – Ku Klux” crowd had “finally jumped on one poor ignorant professor away out in the middle of the ocean and thrust upon the poor devil the Republican – Ku Klux nomination for Governor.”

I don’t really understand the ins and outs of Texas politics in the ’20s, or any other time for that matter, and I think that is a positive attribute.  But it seems that the Klan’s loathing of the Democratic Fergusons lead them to vote for Uncle George.

Mrs. Ferguson’s Republican opponent in the general election was George C. Butte, dean of the University of Texas law school. Ferguson attacked him as “a little mutton-headed professor with a Dutch diploma,” who was taking orders from the “grand dragon” of the “Realm of Texas,” Z. L. Marvin, “the same as Felix Robertson did [another Felix?].” According to the New York Times, the November 4 election signified “the greatest political revolution that ever took place in Texas.” Tens of thousands of rock-ribbed Democrats cast a ballot for a Republican candidate for the first time. Klansmen deserted wholesale to Butte, who was not in sympathy with the organization, as did a number of anti-Ferguson Democrats, outraged that Ferguson should return to power through his wife. [“Texas in the 1920s” Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association]

He also benefited from the Suffragists’ abhorrence of “Ma” Ferguson.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, many of the former suffragists found themselves unable to bring themselves to support Ferguson. Instead, they did what was then almost unthinkable in Texas politics. They crossed party lines and supported the Republican candidate, George C. Butte, dean of the University of Texas law school. Ordinarily, Republican candidates for governor polled between 11,000 and 30,000 votes statewide. In the election of 1924, Butte received over 294,000 votes — most of them from women. [“Women’s Suffrage Movement in Texas”, Texas State Library and Archives]

But that was not enough to win the election.  

The Texas Klan quickly died out after that. “It was all over,” recalled a former Klansman. “After Robertson was beaten [in the Republican primary] the prominent men left the Klan. The Klan’s standing went with them.”   


The Buttes were blessed with brilliance but plagued by mental and emotional problems. But George and Bertha’s children were some of my favorite relatives when I was a child.  The eldest was Felix, my grandfather. More on him below. The next, George, I didn’t know.  Woodfin, or Uncle Woody, was a lot of fun.  He also was a law professor at the University of Texas.  He had a son, Johnny, who was absolutely brilliant.  Uncle Woody and Aunt Pat had two grand pianos in their house so that Uncle Woody and his son could play duets together.  It was astounding.  Tragically, their Johnny suffered heat stroke his first year at Yale, and lived in a vegetative state thereafter. 

George Charles and his sons

Then came Catherine, whom we all called Aunt Ta, my most favorite great aunt.  She was funny and had a glass eye.  When she was young she was sitting in the stands watching a baseball game when the ball flew right into her eye.  Even with no depth perception, she was a great pool player.  And her son, Woodfin, one of my favorite cousins, followed the family tradition and became a judge. His older brother, Stephen, was a Chess Master as a senior in college. His younger sister, Casey, was wild and was frequently the topic of family conversation.  I think she came to a tragic end. 

Beth, Polly and Sara

Finally, there was little Sarah Pauline, or Aunt Polly.  She was only a few years older than her niece, Beth, and often visited at the Butte house in Dallas on Maplewood Avenue.  Next door lived the Gifford Family and Beth and Polly came to know the Giffords’ son, Pete, who was about Polly’s age.

Now, to my grandfather, Felix Lattimore Butte, George and Bertha’s first born. During his youth he lived for a while in Austin and then Muskogee, Oklahoma while his father practiced law there.  Later, he benefited from his father’s stays in Berlin, Heidelberg and Paris while George was obtaining (more) advanced degrees.  He followed the family tradition of being very accomplished, playing the violin, becoming not only a doctor but eventually the Chief of the Orthopedic Surgery Department at Baylor Hospital in Dallas.  Always a point of pride in the family.  He worked there, literally, until the day he died in 1962.

While Felix was studying in Austin he met a very vivacious young lady from Chilton, Texas, Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick.  They married on September 17, 1924. The marriage announcement in the San Antonio Press September 13, 1924 had Elizabeth’s name wrong, referring to her  as “Mary”.  She must have been furious.

Elizabeth and Felix 1924

Felix and Elizabeth were separated for a year or two while he was at medical school in Galveston.  Elizabeth had graduated from the university and was back in Chilton teaching school.  His letters are very passionate and creative in the greetings and closings he uses.  Or maybe that was just how young twenty-somethings wrote in the early twenties.  After their marriage, Felix became a professor of anatomy at Galveston from 1927 until 1933. There are a lot of pictures of them with their daughters Rose Elizabeth and Sara and son Felix, Jr at the beach.  Rose, my mother, changed her name to Beth because she got tired of the other children calling her “Rosie Butt”. Galveston also became a frequent destiny for our family summer vacations when I was little.  

Beth, Sara, Elizabeth, Felix, Jr and Felix

Next Felix and his family moved to White Plains, New York, so that he could train further in New York in the specialty of orthopedics. Felix’s medical career was interrupted by military service from 1942 to 1945.  Their children were in their early teens and did not see much of their father during those years.  He served as military doctor in England.  There was family gossip, via Aunt Sara, that he fell in love with a nurse and must have considered leaving Elizabeth, because she and the children knew of the affair.  However, he returned home and was a very devoted husband and father.

Elizabeth and Felix

After the war Felix’s peers considered him a superb technician, and his main clinical interest was the spine.  He is thought to have been the first to use a particular type of fixation in the stabilization of spines. He became well known for the treatment of scoliosis.  I have a box with with his spine, skull and hand (well, not literally his).

Felix always referred to Elizabeth as “Pretty”. Elizabeth loved to write poems.  I received one every year on my birthday, as did everyone else.  Here is an early one that she wrote to Felix.  It is in a plain envelop so it may not have been mailed, but delivered by her hand.

Elizabeth loved Dallas society and was a very active member of the Dallas Garden Club.   She made very elaborate flower arrangements and entered them into contests.   She had come a long ways from the little town of Chilton.  She also taught piano.  I was one of her worst pupils.  

My grandfather loved sports cars.  He had an MG and Elizabeth (all the other grownups called her Libbo) had a pink Caddy or Lincoln Continental with “suicide doors”.  Not to be outdone, my father bought my mother an Austin Healey.

I remember when I was very young Aunt Sara and “Uncle T” would come “home” to visit during the holidays.  Since they were aunt and uncle, I thought they were husband and wife.  Sara must have been living and working in New York by then and Uncle T was in the navy.  Here’s a picture of him in his uniform.  I look like I’m 2 or 3 years old.  Shortly after that, he had a mental breakdown and was eventually diagnosed as a schizophrenic.  

The family gossip (via Aunt Sara, again) was that Felix could not see that his son was ill.  He must have expected a great deal of his son.  Young Felix Jr had attended Yale and would, of course, be as gifted as all the other Buttes.  Some said that early treatment might have prevented such a serious illness.  After his breakdown, Uncle T lived in the Veterans Administration hospital in Topeka, Kansas for many years.  

Many years later, after my mother’s death, that my father told me of his almost life-long infatuation with Polly.  Polly married in 1940, so she was out of the running when he came home from the war.  Not everyone was pleased that Pete married Beth.  His sister Marjorie said to me, at the hospital where my mother lay dying, that “Pete should never have married her.  Her mother pushed Beth on [poor little] Pete.”  As if his mother had nothing to say in the matter.  That was the last conversation I had with my very unfavorite Aunt Marjorie.  Maybe the marriage was simply his mother’s (Eveline Bonorden Gifford) way of keeping her only son near her in Dallas where Beth’s parents lived as well.  

After my mother died, Pete and Polly had an intense love affair. But Polly had hepatitis and was too ill to be a constant companion for him.   She could never leave San Antonio but Dad might have moved there to be with her. I begged her to let him just adore her.  But Polly said he deserved better than a dying woman.  Polly died a couple of years after Dad remarried.  But he continued to see Polly until her death, which infuriated that other woman. 

Cider House, Part 6

Belt and suspenders.

Today is not about restoration but about shoring up the floor system in the north bay. Although three floor joists will have been replaced, and two others sistered when Michael and Virginia are done, it is safer to provide some extra support for the large span. Besides, I’ve been told I am not allowed to set up a horse driven cider mill like in the old days.

This was the most amazing thing I have seen Michael and Virginia do on the cider house so far. Michael has built a two-part dropped header to support the joists of the floor above. The first part was done while I was busy with the sheep, but from this you can see what the goal is for the second part, which I will show you.

The each part of the truss assembly is composed of a dropped header held up by a post sitting on a concrete footing with braces, all pinned together with wooden pegs. The far end will also be supported by the stone wall. The two parts will then be joined together with a scarf joint.

The first truss in place

To set up the second assembly, Michael and Virginia first raise the second dropped header so the post and braces can be joined to it with mortises and tenons.

Raising the second dropped header

With the second dropped header at the height of the first one, you can see why I think this is so impressive. This is called a scarf joint. It allows you to make a long timber out of two shorter ones. To get the timber on the left on top of the timber on the right, it must be slid about two feet to the right so the scarf joint closes and the supporting post sits on the concrete footer.

Scarf joint

But first the post and braces had to be fitted to the header with mortise and tenon joints.

Virginia used a come-along to lift the the post and braces so the tenons slid into the mortises of the header, which was suspended from the joists above.

Lifting post and braces to the header

The final step was to slide the post+braces+header about two feet to the right so that the two headers are joined at the scarf joint with the post sitting on the footing. Phew! The bottom of the post has a slot that will slide over the knife plate on the footing. It also has three holes that must line up with the holes on the metal blade to accommodate metal pins.

The footing ready for the post

So here is the entire structure ready to be moved into place. You can see why it was necessary to use the scarf joint to install this support structure in two stages.

The whole structure

Using the come-along, Michael very slowly and very carefully slid the structure into place.

Sliding the structure into place

With some encouragement from a mallet, the post slid over the knife plate on the footing.

The post in position

And the scarf joint closed, needing only a couple of whacks with the mallet. Now it is perfectly aligned and level. Magic.

The scarf joint perfectly level

The final steps where inserting wooden pegs into all the joints and shims between the dropped header and the joists above. The metal pins at the bottom of the posts were hidden with peg nubs.

Pegs, shims and floor boards

Next, work moves to the west side of the cider house where another sill must be replaced.

Cider House, Part 5

Time for some siding!!! First, Michael and Virginia cannibalized the old bead board flooring from the other side of the upper floor.

Flooring removed

Second, now that the plywood has been removed, Michael used the “commander” to pound on the outside of the repaired sill to give it a final nudge into place

Pounding the sill into place

Next, Michael power washed the floor boards to make them beautiful even though they are over a hundred years old.

Power washed floorboards for siding

Then, he frame out some windows, which were found for free, and made the cider house beautiful.


From the inside, the two upper level, floorless rooms look like this.

There is one last job to perform on the lower level, a matter of belt and suspenders.

My Veteran Ancestors

On this Veteran’s day I would like to remember my ancestors who served on behalf of the United States since its founding.

Revolutionary War

William Gifford 

Rhode Island State Troops, Col. Lippit 1776, White Plains 1775, Princeton 1776. Reenlisted 1777 Col. Crary’s Regiment, Captain Manchester’s Company reenlisted 1779 twice more.

  Uriah Roundy

Served under General Putnam, Major John Durkee, Col. Knowlton, Bunker Hill 1775, Battle of Trenton 1776, wintered at Valley Forge1777-78, Battle of Monmouth, Battle of Morristown. Possibly Washington’s personal guard.

  William Reuben Briant

Capt. John William’s Company of Col. Buncomb’s Regiment, wounded at Brandywine 1776, wintered at Valley Forge1777-78, discharged at White Plains; reenlisted, fought at Battle of Cowpens.

  Adam Crain Jones

served in the South Carolina Militia under Col. Andrew Williams at the Battle of Cowpens 

  William Townes

2nd Lieutenant, Cumberland County, Virginia Militia  

  Hans Steger

served as a 2nd Lieut., Powhatan Militia. Enlisted under Capt. Joseph Carrington for the Minute Service, Amelia District, Cumberland Co., Virginia.

  Amos Beard

Private in Hartwood’s Co., Col. Peter Porter’s Co., Col. Paterson’s Regiment, Continental Line, which marched in response to to the alarm of Apr. 19, 1775 from Picket Co. Cambridge.

  Jesse B. Shivers

served as a musician in Capt. Child’s Company, Col. Abraham Shepard’s 10th North Carolina  Regiment, Continental Line. 

James McLaurine 

served in Capt. Charles Fleming’s company in the Seventh Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line, commanded by Col. Crockett 

Walter Carson 

served in the Pennsylvania 10th Regiment, Continental Army 

William Carson

Capt. James Moores Co in Col. Waynes Batt. Of Forces Raised in the State of Pennsylvania in Camp at Ticonderoga Nov. 26, 1776 Promoted to Sergeant July 6, in Command at Baking

Civil War 

Edmund J Gifford

Enlisted as a Private in Company K, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Wis. Promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 4 Jan 1862. Mustered out June 11, 1862 due to injury.Served in Company A, 1st Infantry Regiment Iowa, fought at Wilson’s Creek 1861, injured in fall from his horse

Porter Wallace Roundy

Enlisted as a Private in Company K, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Wis. Promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 4 Jan 1862. Mustered out June 11, 1862 due to injury. He reenlisted in 1864 in the 37th Wisconsin Infantry. He served as hospital steward at City Point during the siege of Petersburg.

Herman Frederich Bonorden

Enlisted as a Bugler in Company E, 2nd Iowa Cavalry 2 years after arriving from Germany. Mustered out on 03 Oct 1864. Detailed to payroll dept. the next year, where he stayed until discharge Sept. 1864.


  George Charles Butte 

served as a Capt.& Major US Army, 1914 -1924 during WWI and as 

the Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Section of the General Staff, Washington, DC, 1918.


  Porter William Gifford, Jr. 

served as a Major during WWII and was Chief of the Aircraft Section, Maintenance Division, 2nd Advanced Air Depot Area, IX Air Force Service Command, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Felix Lattimore Butte

Served as a surgeon in the Army Medical Corp. 1942 -1945, stationed in England.

Fathers and Sons

The really sad thing here is that I know very little about my grandparents, Porter William and Eveline (Bonorden) Gifford. He died in 1941, when my father was only 23. I don’t think that my father knew his father very well, either. My grandfather was away in Honduras building railroads for United Fruit for much of my father’s childhood.  He used to joke about growing up in a house full of women, his mother and two significantly older sisters and at least one maid. Later in life, my father wrote a biography of his father.  A friend of his who read it said that it was a good written record of my grandfather’s business career, but he didn’t feel that the reader would learn anything about my grandfather as a person or as a father.  But my father didn’t have anything more to say about his father, so he retitled it as a “Business Biography”. This seems to be a family tradition now: fathers and sons who don’t know each other well.

Although he was the youngest, after his father died, my father was groomed to take over the running of the company his father had founded in Dallas. His older sisters were not allowed to be involved, of course. The most famous project that the company was involved in is the triple underpass under the railroad at the western end of downtown Dallas where, in 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated.

Dealy Plaza

I never met my grandfather and, although Eveline died when I was twenty, she was not very approachable and her life is as much a mystery to me, even though we often had Sunday dinner at her house. She and my father would talk business and my brothers and I would amuse ourselves. Oddly enough, after she died we found a box with a hand-drawn family tree, many old family pictures and Civil War memorabilia.  She probably put the tree together from her mother’s bible that she also had. Fortunately no one else in the family was interested in these things except my father and me. This is how we got started in our genealogical research. It was one of the few things that we bonded over. But the bonding was difficult.

Döllinger Bible

Fortunately, a great deal is known about the Bonordens because they were very accomplished and well researched.  And, again, the military is helpful. So we go back to the un-united German states of the mid 19th century. There is a book with a very detailed history of the Bonorden family written by a distant relative. But I’ll just give you some highlights. The name is thought to come from the phrase “bie Norden” (in the North) because they came from a small area to the north of the region between the Bucke Mountains and Schaumburg Forest.  The name is first seen mentioned on a bill of sale in the records of the town of Stadthagen in 1493.  I would have a map here, but the frequently changing borders makes it hard to get an accurate one. Skipping many generations, and interesting stories, I will begin with the first of several physicians.  I have names for their wives but know nothing about them or their families, so this account, as with many, is male-centric.  

Hermann Friedrich Bonorden (the first of three), born in 1710, is known to have been a surgeon through his death certificate. We know from the births of his children that he lived in Herford, but there is no record of his practicing surgery there.  This is the beginning of the line of Herford Bonordens.  Other than that, very little is known about his life.  So it is assumed that he was a surgeon in the Prussian military.  This would require strict training and testing in surgical schools and hospitals.  A military surgeon would hold an officer’s rank and be commensurately paid.  Surgeons in the Prussian military at that time were responsible for the total care of the soldiers, in both war and peace.  They also cared for civilians who could not afford the university trained physicians.  However, rosters of military surgical schools and hospitals were seldom kept, so we cannot say exactly where Hermann practiced.

Hermann’s son, Johann Heinrich Bonorden, born in Herford in 1736, was also a military surgeon, but there is much more information about him than his father.  He was the Royal Prussian Company Assistant Medical Officer in the Grenadier Company of the 2nd Infantry of the Moselle, No. 11 (whatever all that means).  He was also the first official city and county surgeon.  In addition, his surgical skills led him to be named the official prison surgeon and district surgeon.  All of these positions were highly prized and are evidence of the esteem in which he was held.  He lived to the very old age of 75 in 1811.

Johann’s only child, Phillip Heinrich Bonorden, was born in Herford in 1771.  As a student at the Friedrichs Gymnasium, he was required, starting at age 11, to give a public speech.  The topic of his first speech was “On Fashion”, the next was “The Advantages of Studying”, then “By What Means did the Popes Reach their Heights?” and, finally, at 17, “The Joys of the Heart and of the Mind”.   However he failed the “Arbiter” ( a Regents Exam).  This exam required that he translate Horace from the Latin, prepare a Latin essay on “About the History of the Science and Pharmacology in Ancient Times”.  His German essay was “What Value Does History Have for Us?” (very apropos).  

Somehow he managed to enroll in the Halle University a month after the failed exam (there must have been retakes) and also to become a physician. As the official physician of the Bunde District, he supported the use of the controversial smallpox vaccine.  

He appears to have had a sense of humor.  He was well recognized among his neighbors because of his habit of walking back and forth in front of his house in his pajamas.  When asked by a policeman whether he owned a dog, he replied “no” for several days before admitting that he had no dog, but he did have a puppy, which he then pulled from his pajama pocket.  Well, it was probably funny at the time. 

Philip’s first wife, Dorothea Auguste Nandorf,  died of typhus.  Their son, Hermann Friedrich Bonorden, also a physician (the 8th in nine generations), would later make a study of the causes of typhus.  He was born in 1801 in Herford but later retired in Cologne and so began the Cologne branch of the family.  

Hermann Friedrich’s first wife was Marie Charlotte Gossauer, who bore him nine children before dying in 1851.  Like his grandfather, he served as a military surgeon but was also a renown medical researcher.  Hermann Friedrich published articles on several diseases, including syphilis.  His scientific work won him a professorship at the Friedrich Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. He was awarded most of the prestigious honors in medicine at the time.  He was also a mycologist.  His best known publication is his Complete Mycological Handbook, published in 1851. Of Hermann and Marie’s nine children, one immigrated to America in 1854 or 1859, depending on which census you look at, and settled in Iowa, of course. This was only a few years after the revolution of 1848 in Germany.

Prussia was the largest of the 39 German-speaking states, or kingdoms, of the German Confederation, a loose association meant to balance the power between its two dominant states, Austria and Prussia.  However, in 1848, crowds of people gathered demanding freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, arming of the people and a national German parliament.  Overwhelmed by this pressure, King Frederick William IV of Prussia yielded verbally to all the demonstrators’ demands.  

But the king soon refused to “pick up a crown from the gutter” and unilaterally imposed a monarchist Constitution on Prussia as a way to undercut the democratic forces.  As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Junkers, remained unbroken.  By 1892, Prussia had acquired all of the German states.

Thousands of middle class liberals fled abroad, especially to the United States. This wave of political refugees became known as Forty-Eighters.  Many of these German immigrants made their way to the Midwest.  They settled into tight-knit German-speaking communities across the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys but quickly adopted their new country. 

According to Joseph Eiboeck, a veteran German newspaperman, in his book, Die Deutschen von Iowa und deren Errungenschaften (The Germans of Iowa and Their Achievements), Davenport was “the most German city, not only in the State, but in all the Middle West, the center of all German activities in the State”. But this is not surprising. A large number of Germans settled in Davenport.  But German customs sometimes clashed with those of their Irish and Yankee neighbors.  While the Germans lived on the western side of the town, non-Germans would usually reside in the eastern part, with Harrison Street being the dividing line. 

The main issues of contention were temperance and Sabbath laws.  The German and Irish had no problem with each other in their love of beer, lager and ale.   But despite the German opposition, a strict state law was passed in 1855 forbidding the sale and production of alcohol in Iowa.  The law led to a full-blown riot – called the “Whiskey Riot” – when Germans challenged the authorities’ seizure of liquor.  As the size of the heavily voting German community increased, the law was weakened to leave temperance laws to each community.

Still, the “Anglo-Americans” couldn’t swallow the Sunday afternoon picnics and parades.

The population has a preponderating element of the German race, who carry with them, along with their love of lager, sour-krout [sic] and Bolognas, their free and easy habits of Sunday afternoon diversion. At the “Dutch Gardens,” as they call one place of amusement, I saw on Sunday afternoon several hundred people swigging lager on benches under the trees whilst listening to the strains of a fine band.

In 1859 Sunday “Blue Laws” were passed to curb the Germans’ Sunday amusements, closing all gardens, dancing saloons and other places of amusement Germans regularly frequented.  However, after two weeks, the ordinance was repealed following massive German protests. 

In 1854, the Saratoga docked in New York from Liverpool with refugees of revolution and deposited them at the immigration facility on Ellis Island. Among them were Ludwig Ferdinand Dӧllinger, a shopkeeper, and his wife Sofie Fredericke and their children, Herman, age 15, Gustave, age 11, Emma, age 7 and Clara, an infant.  Although they considered themselves to be German, they had begun their journey in Prussia.  

On another ship, at about the same time, Herman Frederich Bonorden left his home in Prussia and came to America alone in his twenties in 1859.  His parents and maybe even his two brothers remained behind in Prussia.  Perhaps Herman Frederich left Prussia to make a name for himself, separate from his famous father. (At least he spelled it differently.)   

Herman F. Bonorden

Two years after arriving in America, on August 16, 1861, Herman was in Davenport, Iowa, and drafted for three years as a bugler in Company E, 2nd Iowa Cavalry, which became part of the Army of the Mississippi.  He may have seen action at Monterey, Tennessee and Farmingham, Mississippi in April and May of 1862.  But war did not seem to suit Herman.  On May 10, 1862, Herman was put on “extra duty clerk in Q.M. Dpt.”  in the pay department.  He remained there for the duration of the war. That’s all I know about his service. 

Emma Auguste Dӧllinger

But I have learned quite a bit about the service of Emma’s brother Herman Dӧllinger (not to be confused with her future husband Herman Bonorden) who also served in the American Civil War from its beginning to its end, and kept a diary as well.  The diary has been transcribed by Floyd Kallum, a Bonorden descendent, and copied and bound.  It has a wonderful introduction concerning who Herman was and how the diary came to be in Floyd’s hand, but as Floyd quotes Napoleon, “Above all, be distrustful of eyewitnesses, – the only things my Grenadiers saw of Russia was the pack of the man in from.”  Maybe that’s what Napoleon wanted historians to believe.

But there seems to be some truth to that.  I have always been disappointed that Porter Wallace Roundy was not a more vigorous writer in his diary that he sort of kept at City Point, Virginia.  As a hospital steward, he must have seen so much more than the back of the soldier in front of him.  But, most likely, what he saw was too horrid to describe or even want to remember.

All of this is by way of apology for not giving you any tidbits from Herman Döllinger’s diary.  I have picked it up several times to read.  As he writes, “nothing of importance” happened most days.  When things became eventful, there was no time to write and probably no wish to record.  As many have said, war is mostly long periods of excruciating boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

Floyd adds  a lot of commentary along the way to give some context to Herman’s observations.  On page 15 he notes that Herman Döllinger served with his future brother-in-law,  Herman Frederich Bonorden at Corinth, Mississippi on May 9, 1862, when the 2nd Iowa Cavalry joined with the 56th Illinois Volunteers and other regiments for the attack on Corinth.  It was actually not much of a battle.  After the enormous losses at the Union victory at Shiloh just days before,  General Grant took it slow in advancing on the Confederate retreat.  But the Confederates staged a ruse, leaving a few troops at Corinth lighting fires, drumming, and making all sorts of racket while the Confederate army slipped quietly to safety.

In 1859 Sunday “Blue Laws” were passed to curb the Germans’ Sunday amusements, closing all gardens, dancing saloons and other places of amusement Germans regularly frequented.  However, after two weeks, the ordinance was repealed following massive German protests. 

In 1854, the Saratoga docked in New York from Liverpool with refugees of revolution and deposited them at the immigration facility on Ellis Island. Among them were Ludwig Ferdinand Dӧllinger, a shopkeeper, and his wife Sofie Fredericke and their children, Herman, age 15, Gustave, age 11, Emma, age 7 and Clara, an infant.  Although they considered themselves to be German, they had begun their journey in Prussia.  

Sofie Fredericka Döllinger

On another ship, at about the same time, Herman Frederich Bonorden left his home in Prussia and came to America alone in his twenties in 1859.  His parents and maybe even his two brothers remained behind in Prussia.  Perhaps Herman Frederich left Prussia to make a name for himself, separate from his famous father. (At least he spelled it differently.)   

Two years after arriving in America, on August 16, 1861, Herman was in Davenport, Iowa, and drafted for three years as a bugler in Company E, 2nd Iowa Cavalry, which became part of the Army of the Mississippi.  He may have seen action at Monterey, Tennessee and Farmingham, Mississippi in April and May of 1862.  But war did not seem to suit Herman.  On May 10, 1862, Herman was put on “extra duty clerk in Q.M. Dpt.”  in the pay department.  He remained there for the duration of the war. That’s all I know about his service. 

But I have learned quite a bit about the service of Emma’s brother Herman Dӧllinger (not to be confused with her future husband Herman Bonorden) who also served in the American Civil War from its beginning to its end, and kept a diary as well.  The diary has been transcribed by Floyd Kallum, a Bonorden descendent, and copied and bound.  It has a wonderful introduction concerning who Herman was and how the diary came to be in Floyd’s hand, but as Floyd quotes Napoleon, “Above all, be distrustful of eyewitnesses, – the only things my Grenadiers saw of Russia was the pack of the man in from.”  Maybe that’s what Napoleon wanted historians to believe.

But there seems to be some truth to that.  I have always been disappointed that Porter Wallace Roundy was not a more vigorous writer in his diary that he sort of kept at City Point, Virginia.  As a hospital steward, he must have seen so much more than the back of the soldier in front of him.  But, most likely, what he saw was too horrid to describe or even want to remember.

All of this is by way of apology for not giving you any tidbits from Herman Döllinger’s diary.  I have picked it up several times to read.  As he writes, “nothing of importance” happened most days.  When things became eventful, there was no time to write and probably no wish to record.  As many have said, war is mostly long periods of excruciating boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

Floyd adds  a lot of commentary along the way to give some context to Herman’s observations.  On page 15 he notes that Herman Döllinger served with his future brother-in-law,  Herman Frederich Bonorden at Corinth, Mississippi on May 9, 1862, when the 2nd Iowa Cavalry joined with the 56th Illinois Volunteers and other regiments for the attack on Corinth.  It was actually not much of a battle.  After the enormous losses at the Union victory at Shiloh just days before,  General Grant took it slow in advancing on the Confederate retreat.  But the Confederates staged a ruse, leaving a few troops at Corinth lighting fires, drumming, and making all sorts of racket while the Confederate army slipped quietly to safety.

There is one entry, on January 1, 1863, that is worth quoting, along with Herman’s creative spelling. 

Continued our march this morning early toward Lafyette [Tennessee], after marching about 1 mile, and was about to passe a house a lady came out, and complaint about the soldears taking her chickens, and all her turnips, and wanted the Col. to guard them, the Col. askt her, wheather she wanted the Government torn down, she said, she did not, then he askt her wheather she wanted the Confedracy to be establishet, she said she did, and that she was a southern women, the Col. apliet, if that is the case, i donat Care, if the[y] eat up your house and home, at that time we all jumpt in to her tirnip pach, and get all we wanted.

There are no entries after December 31, 1963, when he came to the last page of the diary for that year.  However, Herman continued to serve, eventually under General Sherman on his March to the Sea.  After the surrender of the Confederacy, the Union Army began sending its troops home to be mustered out.

Sargent Herman F. Dellinger (or Dillinger, the army was never sure how to spell it but always got it wrong probably because of the umlaud, ö) was on the first leg of his long journey  to Springfield, Illinois on board the U. S. Steam Transport “General Lyon”, along with about 500 to 600 others, including women, children and freedmen.  The ship was bound from Wilmington, North Carolina to Fortress Monroe in Virginia, at the opening of Chesapeake Bay.  On March 31, 1865, when off Cape Hatteras, a storm was encountered and the “General Lyon” caught fire and sank.  Only twenty-eight persons were saved.  

Herman may have sent his diaries to his and Emma’s mother, Sophie Fredericka, as he completed them, but the last one was probably with him on the General Lyon.  It has never been found.  The Adjutant General’s Report lists all member of the 56th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and their fates. 

After the war Herman Frederich Bonorden applied for US citizenship, which he received in Sept, 1864 in St. Louis.  Then, in September 1865, he married Herman Döllinger’s sister, Emma Auguste Dӧllinger, in St. Louis. We don’t know where Emma was living before she met Herman, but maybe it was St. Louis.  It’s impossible to know if the Dӧllingers and Bonordens knew each other in Prussia.  I have no information about the Dӧllinger family prior to their immigration to America.  It appears that Emma’s father, Ludwig Ferdinand, returned to Germany, where he died four years after leaving.  He may have been ill when disembarking at Ellis Island and not allowed to stay.

After their marriage, Emma and Herman returned to Iowa from St. Louis and Herman was admitted to the Iowa State Bar.  He practiced as an attorney at law in Iowa City, where they raised their nine children.  Iowa City is only about 50 miles west of Davenport.  I have an old German bible in which  Emma kept the records, in German, of the births in the family.  There is no evidence that Herman returned to Davenport after the war.  If he had lived there, he may have met Porter Wallace Roundy, also a Civil War veteran, and his daughter, Nettie May, and his grandsons, Edward and William Gifford.  But it is safe to assume that Herman’s daughter Eveline met Edward H. Gifford’s son Porter because of mutual friends in Davenport.

Sofie Fredericka Döllinger

Then, amazingly, with seven children to feed, clothe and educate, and a mother-in-law to care for, Herman decided to change professions.  In 1887, he went to Washington and applied to the Bureau of Pensions to be a pension examiner.  That same year he applied for a disability pension for himself based on his service in the War of the Rebellion.  His family remained in their home in Iowa City, Iowa and then Quincy, Illinois while Herman traveled for work in Illinois, Missouri and Washington as a pension examiner.  When Emma died in 1900 at the age of 55, she left Herman to raise their four youngest children who were all teenagers by then.

Eveline Victoria Auguste Bonorden 1900

So, even as he claimed to be disabled to the extent of being “totally unable to earn a support by manual labor”, he worked as a pension examiner for seventeen years.  In 1907, he applied for an increase in his pension shortly after Congress approved such increases. In fact, it seems that every time Congress passed a new pension act, Herman had his application ready.  

Eventually, he no longer needed to plead a disability, only his war record. In 1910, at 75, he was living in Washington, DC, with his daughter Bertha (unfortunate name; she looked like a Bertha) and stated that he had been working as a pension examiner for 16 years.  In 1911, he and his daughter Bertha moved to San Diego, California, and Herman applied for a transfer of his pension to his new address.  In this case, the six month residency requirement for the transfer was waived by H. R. C. Shaw, Chief, Certificate Division, based on reliable information from Herman’s colleague, Mr. Works, that “pensioner intends to make San Diego his permanent home.”  It’s good to have friends in the Pension Office.  

Herman F. Bonorden

Finally, in 1912, he wrote to J. L Davenport, Commissioner of Pensions in Washington (errors in the original). 

Dear Sir;      I hope that you upon seeing the signature below, will remember the Special-Examiner and Clerk that worked in the Bureau from Aug. 1887 to Sept, 15” 191[?]., and had to resign on account of the failure of his eye-sight, to make room for some one else, more phisically able to perform his duties.      Since September last I have lived here [San Diego] with one of my daughters, as a poor relation on my $20.00 per month pension. I am poor in health and financially; saved only a small amount of money during my civil service. My wife died years ago, leaving me with a large and expensive family which used up most of my salary….June 30 last I was 77 years of age and will not live very long, I am almost blind on account of which I use a type-writer. I respectfully ask you to do a favor to a former faithful and efficient employee of the Bureau and if not contrary to your duties, to make my case “Special” so I can draw the increase at San Francisco, Cal. September 4” next and I will thank you ever so much.  A premium on a life policy is due early in Oct.

It appears that his case may not have been treated as “Special”.  Three years after this letter, Herman was sent another form to fill out for his pension.  But he apparently did eventually receive an increase in his pension.  In 1917, his pension check for $90 (which is way more than $20) was returned to the Pension Office “because the pensioner died Apr 30 1917”.  The check had been mailed, ironically, to the “Fredericka Home for the Aged”.

Lillian, Bertha and Eveline

This is, indeed, a sad, but perplexing tale.  It’s surprising that a man who was a lawyer for 18 years and then a Pension Examiner for another 17 years could not have saved for his retirement.  And when his wife Emma died in 1900, the “large and expensive family” she left him with was composed of the four youngest children.  The eldest of these, Otto, age 22, would soon marry and was probably helping to support the family; the next eldest, Bertha, age 20, would care for Herman until his death.  She never married and lived alone after her father’s death until her own in 1945.  The other two, Eveline, 16, and Richard, 13, would not be home much longer.  

Here is a photograph of the eight siblings on the only occasion they were all together.  My grandmother, Eveline is second from the right.

The Bonorden Siblings

In 1907, Herman and Emma’s daughter Eveline married Porter William Gifford (Sr), the son of Edmond (Edward) H. Gifford and Nettie May Roundy, and grandson of Edmond J. Gifford and Nancy Ann Renfro.  Porter was 22 years old and Eveline was 25 years old. Eveline and Porter had three children: Edna May, Marjorie, and Porter William, Jr, my father, born in 1918 in Dallas.  I believe that this long line of distant fathers and their sons left its mark on my father. 

Porter, Marjorie, Eveline and Edna May

Porter worked for the Walsh Construction Company of Davenport.  In 1906 he formed a subcontracting partnership, Walsh, List and Gifford construction company, with Bill List.  They probably moved frequently to live near the job sights. By 1918, they had moved to Biloxi, Mississippi where the children’s grandfathers, Porter Wallace Roundy and Edward H. Gifford, visited them.

Then, throughout the twenties, Porter, sometimes with Eveline, traveled to Honduras with the Vaccaro family.  I count 13 trips in those ten years, some of them with Eveline returning home alone.  Porter’s Company built railroads from the Vaccaro’s banana plantations to the port of La Ceiba for shipping the bananas to the U. S.   He looks like a giant in this picture and he was quite tall.  But I think these “Caribs” are children.

Porter and Eveline eventually settled in Dallas, Texas. They would move next door to Dr. Felix L. Butte, another descendant of German immigrants, and his wife, Elizabeth (Kirkpatrick) and their three children. Their son, affectionately known as “Pete”, would marry the girl next door.

Cider House, Part 4

The lesson for today is how two, not-very-burly, people can move an 950lb timber into the lower level of the cider house, hoist it to the main level to replace a missing joist. This is one of three missing joists. Once they are all in place the new floor can be laid down and we can have a barn dance.

Rollers under the timber

A couple of strategically placed rollers under the timber made it possible for Virginia and Michael to move it around. However the timber must be snaked through the staging that was still needed in order to lift the joist up to the upper level.

So the first thing was to pass the timber under the staging. Then it was pivoted around shoved into the cider house.

Next it joist was hoisted up to the upper level. But, it’s a tight fit.

No, no, no ,no, no, no

Originally, the joists would not have been installed like this. They would have been brought directly into the upper level from above before the walls and roof were built. However, by some miracle it just fits, until it doesn’t.

What to do? With a little digging and some shoving, Michael and Virginia get the joist free. And then up it goes.

Hoisting the joist

You may be wondering what the strategy is here. Shouldn’t they be raising the joist into the space where it is to eventually go? Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. This 950lb timber must be securely supported as it is lowered into place. So they must first set it on top of timbers laid across the existing joists and then slide it into place.

I didn’t get a picture of this, so imagine that there is a timber lying across the top of that staging and that the joist was slid onto it. Using the jacks on the staging Michael and Virginia gradual lower this end of the joist. You can see the mortise in the sill above the cripple wall where the tenon on the joist is to go. And here it is slipping into place just like it knew where to go. Notice the studs for the cripple wall are wider at the top to provide extra support for the joists. Belt and suspenders.

At the other end, they just have to lower the joist onto the foundation wall. Michael used a pry bar to shove the tenon further into the mortise at the other end. You can see the old mortise where the tenon of original joist fit.

Now all the structural work on this side of the cider house is complete so the staging can be removed. Here are the new sill, cripple wall and joists.

It only remains to add some framing for the siding and some old windows found on the side of the road.

The Cider House, part 3

Well, I thought the worst was over when Virginia and Michael replaced the 26 foot sill on the east side of the cider house in Part 2. Now I’m told that the most dangerous step is the next one, rebuilding the cripple wall on the north side. The sill above it was repaired in Part 1.

The first step was to jack the sill up off of the old supports and then remove those supports, which included an ancient rusty jack that was cemented into the foundation wall.

Removing the old cripple wall

Michael cut a bunch of studs that flare at the top so that they will support both the sill and the joists on the inside. Then they assembled the cripple wall on supports just outside of the foundation wall.

Assembling the cripple wall

Once assembled, the pieces were pegged together.

Before the cripple wall was slid into place, Michael cut a cog into it.


Then ever so slowly with a lot of banging and pushing, the cripple wall was slid into place between the foundation wall and the sill. You can see the cog in the upper left hand corner of the picture.

Cripple wall in place

With the sills now at the proper height, the corner of the cider house has been raised about a foot.

Old height of the bottom of the sill

This is why this step of the restoration was so dangerous. Over the course of several days the corner of the cider house was jacked up an inch or so at a time and allowed to settle into the new position before being raised any higher. If it was raised too quickly, something could have snapped. It had to be coaxed ever so gently back into a position it hadn’t seen in decades.

The final step was to cover the opening with siding. The old flooring that was pulled up on the upper level was power washed to remove over a century of paint and crud. These boards were then used for the siding.

“New” siding

Tar paper was slipped under the old siding above the opening and in front of the bottom timber of the cripple wall. The siding above was bevel cut underneath so the “new” siding could slip behind these boards to keep water off of the upper edge of the new siding.

And if, someday, someone should remove the siding they will discover the initials and date: VG MMXX.


War! War! War!

Sometimes people ask why history is mostly about wars. One reason is that war departments keep excellent records. Sometimes those records and the census are all a genealogist has to go on. Social history is more ephemeral. And this is the case with my Roundy ancestors.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, there were enough wars in the 18th and 19th centuries so that my three closest Roundy ancestors fought in one and each Roundy widow applied for a war pension. This is fortunate because, without letters or diaries, these applications provide most of the personal information that is available about the men and their wives. Uriah Roundy fought in the Revolutionary War. Uriah’s son, Daniel Roundy, fought in the War of 1812. Daniel’s son, Porter Wallace Roundy, fought in the Civil War. His daughter, Nettie May Roundy, married Edward H. Gifford, my great grandfather and estranged son of Edmond J. Gifford.

Recall that Edward H. Gifford was born in Muscatine, Iowa, on April 4, 1861, a week and a half before the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. The next month, his father, Edmond J. answered President Lincoln’s first call for 75,000 volunteers. This left their mother, Nancy Ann (Renfro), with two small children, William and Edward, to care for. Although Edmond J.’s service lasted for only three months, I can find no evidence that he ever returned to Nancy Ann and their sons. By 1870, Edward and William were living with their mother in Davenport, where she worked as a seamstress and William, only 14, was a store clerk. In 1880, Edward cannot be found and his brother William was living with their grandmother Elizabeth Cormack Renfro in Rock Island. By this time, their parents had been divorced for eight years. There’s no sign of their mother, and their father had remarried and moved to Petoskey, Michigan. 

Then Edward met Nettie May Roundy and his brother William met a woman named Lizzie and they were married in a double ceremony on July 1, 1880 in Davenport by Rev. H. S. Church. Looking at William and Edward side-by-side makes it hard to believe that they are full brothers. So, maybe Nancy Ann Renfro Warren was pregnant by her first husband when she married Edmond J. Gifford, making William and Edward only half brothers.

Lizzie, William, Nettie May, Edward 

Edward was a member of Trinity Masonic Lodge in Davenport and worked as a messenger for United States Express Company in Davenport until at least 1900. The United States Express Company, founded in 1854, was third in size and importance among the 19th century express operations. It was headed by a banker, D. N. Barney, who was also the president of Wells, Fargo & Co.  A few months later, in the spring of 1855, he also headed the National Express Company. This must have been an interesting business arrangement. The United States Express Company mostly served the states of the old Northwest Territories. Think of Charlie Utter in Deadwood.

Edward and Netty

After Nettie May died in 1905, I have no record of Edward’s activities until 1921, when Edward traveled with his son Porter, who was 35 at the time, to Honduras. Porter had started a railroad business, Walsh, List and Gifford and was beginning a project for the United Fruit Company building railroads in Honduras to transport bananas from the trees to the port in La Ceiba for shipment to America. 

As further evidence of the estrangement from his father, on his passport application in 1921 Edward says that his father is E. J. Gifford, birthplace “U.S.A. New York I Think.” He also lists his father’s birth year as 1839 instead of 1830. Remember, Edmond J. said in 1900 that he had not heard from his son since 1885. Edward even gets his own birth year wrong, giving 1863 instead of 1861. Edward says that he is currently living in Biloxi , Mississippi, working as a farmer. His son Porter had just moved to Biloxi , maybe to be near New Orleans for all his traveling. More on that in the next essay. When asked why he was going abroad he writes, “To work, Vaccaro Bros. & Son on railroad construction”. This is then crossed out and only the word “Employment” is left as the answer. 

Edward’s Passort

Edward died two months after returning from his first trip to Honduras. He was only sixty. Edward’s son Porter would continue the railroad business in Honduras and eventually start building railroads in Texas.

Now on to Nettie May’s family, the Roundys. The Roundys are well researched because they were often pillars of their tiny communities and one became a founder of the Mormon Church, which puts great store by genealogy. Nettie May’s 6th great grandfather, Philip Roundy, was born on the Isle of Guernsey in 1628 and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1656. After Philip, there was his son Robert, then his son John, then his son Robert, then his son John, then his son Uriah, who may have been a person of some note. According to “Roundy History” by Jesse Warner, Uriah Roundy was a Personal Guard to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. However, this seems to be a remnant of the pension application of his widow, Lucretia (Needham) Roundy and repeated in the book. More on that below.

The Revolutionary War

Uriah Roundy was born in 1756 in Rockingham, Vermont and he died there, too, in 1813. In between, he moved to Connecticut, fought for years in the Revolutionary War, married Lucretia Needham and had eleven children. 

Lucretia Needham’s family, at least the Needhams, can also be traced back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where Lucretia’s g-g-g-grandfather Edmund Needham arrived from England in 1638 and settled in Lynn, next to Salem. The Needhams stayed in Lynn, Massachusetts for generations, a succession of Edmunds and Daniels. Lucretia’s father ventured as far as New London, Connecticut, where Lucretia was born in 1760.

The history of the Roundys says that John Roundy and all of his sons, including Uriah, served in the Revolutionary War. However, the details are murky. It may be that Uriah was a member of General Washington’s “Life Guards”. But Revolutionary War records are very incomplete. Most of the ones held in Washington were lost when the British burned the city to the ground during the War of 1812, sometimes referred to as the Second American Revolutionary War.

Our best information comes from the pension applications made by Uriah’s wife Lucretia after his death in 1813. Although the act establishing the pensions was passed in 1838, Lucretia did not apply until 1841, when she was 81 years old, blind and unable to sign her name. She claimed that Uriah signed up as a Continental soldier in Windham County in a Connecticut Unit on 1 May 1775. His major was John Durkee of Norwich and that Uriah’s first big battle was Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775, where he served under General Putnam. She thinks he was wounded in the ribs by a bayonet and she thinks this was at the Battle of Brandywine and that he was under the command of Colonel Knowlton. 

Serving under Major Durkee, Uriah crossed the Delaware River with General Washington on Christmas Day 1776 and participated in the Battle of Trenton. and even spent the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge before engaging the British at the Battles of Monmouth and Morristown. So he could have served as a personal guard to General Washington. But, his name does not appear on the available list of Washington’s Guards. He also may have run into William Gifford in Col. Lippitt’s Rhode Island Regiment.

The description of Uriah’s military service contained in Lucretia’s pension application implies that he served in a Connecticut Regiment. But the Pension Board denied the application because they said that his name did not appear on any Connecticut rolls. But I found him listed in the Connecticut Revolutionary War Military Lists, 1775-83 in Capt. Abner Robinson’s Rhode Island company, Oct.1777. I, along with a couple of experts I corresponded with, am willing to take Lucretia’s word for it. Her version of Uriah’s service gets enough names and places correct that it’s hard to believe that it isn’t true. Besides, John Durkee raised his regiment in the same town, Norwich, Connecticut, in which Uriah and Lucretia were married in 1780. 

It turns out that, according to the Daughters of the American Revolution, Uriah Roundy later served as a private in the Rockingham, Vermont company of Captain Jonathan Holton, which saw action “in the Alarm in Oct. 17, 1780”, which occurred after he and Lucretia were married. This is not quite as heroic as the previous account, but it’s still enough for the D.A.R. This British-led Indian Raid was the last and one of the most savage Indian raids of the Revolutionary War. It was an attempt by the British to use their Indian allies to terrorize the Colonial frontier settlements. Three hundred Indians, with their British leaders, attacked Royalton, Vermont without warning, burning the town to the ground. 

Shadrach and Betsy Roundy

Uriah, on the other hand, filed a certificate on March 20, 1797, recorded by the Rockingham town clerk, which reads: “This is to certify that Uriah Roundy is of and belongeth to the Universalist Society in this town and contributes to the support of the same”. It is said, by explanation, that this certificate allowed Uriah to avoid the town “Ministers Tax”, by claiming his preference for or belief in the Universalist Church. This issue took me into an in-depth reading of the Minister’s Tax, which was imposed by each town on its citizens to pay the ministers of the Puritan churches. Although there were members of other faiths in these towns, the Puritans were the majority and so the tax laws continued to be upheld. No separation of church and state in those days, even though Vermont ratified the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, in 1791.

Lucretia Needham Roundy, Uriah’s wife, frail and old, moved from Rockingham to Spafford, Onondaga County, New York, sometime after her husband’s death in 1813, with all or most of her, by then, grown children. Her children became prominent citizens of the tiny new town. Uriah, Jr. was postmaster and his brother Asahel served in several town offices. Both Daniel and his brother Uriah, Jr headed west sometime between 1830 and 1840. Lucretia must have gone with one or both of them because she died in Michigan in 1845 when she was 85 years old. 

The War of 1812

Uriah Roundy’s son, Daniel, was born in Rockingham, Vermont, in December 1780, just after his father fought in the Alarm at Royalton, Vermont.  My father’s records show that from October 15 to November 17, 1813, Daniel served in Capt. Asahel Langworthy’s Co. of Vermont Volunteer Riflemen in the War of 1812. More on this later. Daniel and his wife Ruth Beard were both the grandchildren of Daniel Needham and Hannah Allen. Their mothers, Hannah and Lucretia, were sisters, making Daniel and Ruth first cousins. Marriage between first cousins was not unusual in small isolated communities that were settled by only a few families.  Ruth’s father, Amos Beard, served in the Revolutionary War from Massachusetts. He enlisted four times but saw only brief engagements. His name appears in the official roster of the soldiers of the American Revolution as buried in the state of Ohio, where Amos died in 1821. 

Daniel and Ruth Roundy had five children in Spafford, New York, including their youngest, Porter Wallace Roundy, who was born in 1829, within a year and 100 miles of the birth of Edmond J. Gifford in Utica, New York. Then the family moved west to Cook County, Illinois by 1840. So Daniel Roundy ended up in Illinois just as Hicks Gifford was. And just like Hicks, Daniel purchased public land in Illinois: 160 acres in Cook County, E SE Sec 34 and 35, Twp 41N R9E Hanover Township. This took place 1 May 1845. He continued to make land purchases until he died there two years later. 

An 1861 plat map of Cook County shows that a P. Roundy owned the lands that Daniel purchased. Since Daniel had only one son or grandson with the initial P, I assume that Porter Wallace Roundy inherited the land from his father. 

After Daniel died in 1847, Ruth remarried in 1854 to a Benjamin Blodgett, who then died four years later. Then, until her death in 1894 at age 94, she lived with her son Porter Wallace and his wife, Jane, and their daughter, Nettie May, in Davenport, Iowa.

In 1889, Ruth applied for a widow’s pension under the “Act of March 9, 1878”. She had legal representation from John W. Morris, attorney at law, and a former principal examiner U.S. Pension Bureau. Amazingly, his name and former position at the Pension Bureau are shamelessly stamped on the application and all supporting affidavits. His former employment as a pension examiner apparently did not exclude him from later representing pension claimants. It may have given him an advantage since he made it so obvious. Or maybe full disclosure laws required it. 

The application goes into great detail about Daniel’s life, including the fact that he had been married previously, that Daniel was a tin smith, that he was 6’1” tall and that his eyes were gray. Since Ruth was 89 years old at the time, it is possible that she made her mark on the application not because she was illiterate, but because she was blind. Anyway, she was also confused about her husband’s military service. She thought he had served under Capt. Gates, of Ohio. Then there are several pages of affidavits, including a physician’s affidavit from her son, Dr. Daniel Curtis Roundy, saying that her husband Daniel died of “malarial fever”.

Then the decision comes in 1890: “Application for pension is rejected on the ground of your remarriage after the soldier’s death.” But her son, Porter Wallace, did not give up. At the bottom of the rejection letter he wrote a note to Green B. Raum, returning the letter to him. Then there are several pages of a digest of laws and practices by the Pension Bureau. This includes the stipulation that if a widow of a soldier in the War of 1812 remarries before 1878, she is still eligible for a pension. 

Finally, there is a letter dated May 11, 1889, from John W. Morris, attorney at law, but also the former principal examiner, to the Commissioner of the Pension Bureau requesting the latest known address of Ruth Roundy Blodgett. On the final page of the packet in my father’s files is the Widow’s Brief, with Mr. Morris representing Ruth, and finally the correct service record for Daniel. But this appears to be a rejection. It is “sub”mitted “for rejection Feb. 4th, 1890”.

Poor Ruth. She died in 1894, five years after applying for the pension and there is no evidence that she ever got it approved. The pension acts were passed in 1871 and 1878. Why did she wait eleven years to apply? Blodgett was long dead and her marriage to him didn’t affect her eligibility. She had been living with her son Porter and his wife Jane for over twenty years. Maybe she and Porter didn’t feel the financial need for it. But we will see that that was not the case. 

The Civil War

There are several reasons why Porter Wallace Roundy is interesting. His Civil War memorabilia has been passed down through the generations, including his day book from the war and memorial pins; he’s the first of four Porters in the family and his daughter, Nettie May, married Edward H. Gifford. 

Porter Wallace was born in Spafford, New York in 1829, about 90 miles from Utica, where Edmond J. Gifford was born in 1830. Porter Wallace had come west around 1838, going by a memorial of his better known brother, Daniel Curtis Roundy. Both Porter and his brother Daniel married women named Jane Young, but I can find no connection between them. Porter Wallace married Jane Ann Young in in 1855 in Sharon, Wisconsin, where her parents lived. She came from Maryland. Little else is known about Jane Ann, only her parents’ names and a few dates. In 1859, still in Sharon, Wisconsin, Porter Wallace and Jane Ann became the parents of their only child, Nettie May. In 1860 Porter Wallace was Deputy Sheriff of Darien, Wisconsin, which was named after the town in Connecticut. If Porter Wallace inherited his father’s land in Cook County, Illinois, there is no record of him selling it.

When President Lincoln first called for volunteers, in 1861, Porter Wallace enlisted on November 18, 1861 as a private in the Wisconsin cavalry. He was promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant in January 1862. However, Porter Wallace managed to injure himself in June in a fall from his horse and had to resign. One document says it was during a cavalry charge but not where or in what battle this took place. 

However, Porter Wallace reenlisted on March 30 1864 into the 37th Infantry Regiment Wisconsin in which his brother Daniel Curtis Roundy served as Regiment Surgeon. It looks like he went in the place of someone else who was drafted but paid the $300 bounty to Porter Wallace to go in his place. 

Porter was promoted to Hospital Steward in April. The 37th Infantry Regiment was then sent to join the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. Company S was posted to the City Point Depot. “From the end of June 1864 to May 1865, City Point provided all supplies necessary to support the 125,000 men and 65,000 animals of General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Armies which lay siege to the strategically important town of Petersburg, Virginia.” Petersburg was between the Union forces and Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. 

City Point was on a little spit of land sticking out into the James River. This allowed for easy off loading of munitions, food, clothing, saddles and everything else an army required. The boats also brought in medical supplies for the treatment of the wounded in the hospitals.

Seven hospitals operated at City Point during the siege. The largest was the Depot Field Hospital which covered nearly 200 acres and could hold up to 10,000 patients. Twelve hundred tents, supplemented by ninety log barracks in the winter, comprised the compound, which included laundries, dispensaries, regular and special diet kitchens, dining halls, offices and other structures. Army surgeons administered the hospital aided by civilian agencies such as the U.S. Sanitary Commission and the U.S. Christian Commission. Male nurses, drawn from the ranks, made sure each patient had his own bed and wash basin; and regularly received fresh pillows and linens. The excellence of the facilities and the efficiency and dedication of the staff not only made the Depot Field Hospital the largest facility of its kind in America but also the finest. 

Nation Park Service

There are actually a lot of photographs of the City Point Depot and Hospitals. I tried to find one picture of the hospitals that would give a visual sense of the description above. However, I finally decided to use this one from Matthew Brady’s City Point Collection at the National Archives. This shows trains used to take supplies inland to the Union troops at the siege of Petersburg. The large house in the distance might be the home of the large plantation that was taken over by the Union Army as Headquarters for General Grant.

U.S. Military R.R., City Point, Va. Field Hospital

It was at the siege of Petersburg that the “Battle of the Mine” (or “Crater”) was fought. The Union troops from Pennsylvania devised a plan to tunnel under the Confederate earthworks and place dynamite. Then the dynamite would be exploded on June 30th to allow the Union forces pass through the resulting break in the earthworks to take the city. However, disaster ensued. The Union regiments ended up trapped in the “crater” while the Confederates picked them off from the ground above. If you remember the opening scene in the movie “Cold Mountain” you have a sense of the tragedy.

Entry in the daybook of Porter Wallace Roundy

Of the Union forces there were 419 killed, 1,679 wounded and 1,910 missing. The wounded were taken to City Point Depot hospital to be treated. On that day, in his diary, Porter writes, “at 4 ½ oclock. Am they blew up the Rebbles Fort & faught 4 hours & forty minits & charged twice & charged again at 11 oclock & still again 2 ½ oclock P.m. It is all [?] at the front this morning.” Porter Wallace did not make another entry into his diary for several weeks after that. Porter Wallace and his brother Daniel were mustered out on July 27, 1865.

Porter Wallace Roundy

From the pension records and his diary it’s clear that Porter Wallace was sick for much of his second duty. Disease was the cause of more than half of the deaths of soldiers during the Civil War. Porter Wallace continued to be unwell after the war and was put on a disability pension. I’m pretty sure this is a picture of Porter Wallace, especially when you compare it with the pictures below. It’s probably after the war when he is still a young man, only 36, despite his appearance. His hair is still dark and many veterans had long beards, probably more from necessity than fashion. 

After the war in August 1869, Porter and his wife and daughter Nettie May moved to Davenport, Iowa, where, in 1870, Porter owned one horse and ten acres of improved land planted with Indian corn and oats. The U. S. census lists Porter as working as a gardener in 1870, a “market gardener” in 1880, a gardener in 1885. The 1900 census says he was in the “milk business”. This looks like an economic decline for Porter and this may be what lead his mother Ruth to apply, futilely as it turned out, for a war widow’s pension.

It was in Davenport that the Roundys met Nancy Ann (Renfro) Gifford and her two sons, William and Edward H. Gifford. Nancy Ann Gifford was divorced from her second husband, Edmond J. Gifford, in 1872. She had been living in Davenport since at least 1870, separated from her husband and working as a seamstress. In 1880, Nettie May Roundy, Porter’s daughter, married Edmond H. Gifford, Edmond J’s son, in a double ceremony with William Gifford, Edmond’s brother, and his bride Lizzie.

About this same time, Porter Wallace applied for an “invalid pension” for his service in the Civil War. As one of his witnesses says, “after his discharge,…he was in very feeble health appeared to be entirely broken down, was troubled with a cough, and appeared to be totally unfit and unable to perform any manual labor.” Maybe that is why he did not do well farming or gardening. His application was apparently approved because in 1891 he applied for an increase of $4 in his pension because of his increasingly poor health. When new pension laws are passed in 1907 and 1912, he applied again. 

Porter and Jane Ann celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 1915. They lived together in Davenport until her death in 1916. 

Jane Ann (Young) and Porter Wallace Roundy 1915

His 1915 Iowa State Census card tells us a little more about him. It shows that he had a eighth grade “common” school education and could read and write and had no church affiliation. It also confirms his Civil War service. 

1915 Iowa State Census

After Jane Ann died in 1916, he visited his grandson, Porter William Gifford, and his family, who were living in Biloxi, Mississippi. How Porter Wallace managed to get from Davenport to Mississippi and then back to Iowa is probably a good story. That’s a long train ride for a 90 year old disabled Civil War veteran. There are several pictures like this one of Porter Wallace sitting on this porch in Biloxi. 

Porter Wallace Roundy, Biloxi, Mississippi

Porter Wallace continued to live in Davenport with the Harrison family. Porter had lived in Davenport since the Civil War and probably was reluctant to uproot himself. Then on April 12, 1921, his pension check for $150 was returned by the Davenport postmaster. W. N. Campbell notes “DROPPED because of death, which occurred on Feb. 1, 1921”. Porter Wallace was 92 years old. He outlived his wife, Jane Ann, and his daughter, Nettie May. His son-in-law, Edward H. Gifford, died two months later. For a disable Civil War veteran, he lived a long time.

War Memorabilia

I have a number of items from Porter’s and Edmond’s civil War service. There are Porter’s brass identification stencil and three pins from the G.A.R. There are two memorial ribbons worn in remembrance of a friend and Davenport native, August Wentz, during parades in Davenport. However, these probably belonged to Edmond. August Wentz and Edmond both fought at Wilson’s Creek in 1861. Wentz also reenlisted and was killed that same year in Belmont, Missouri. Both battles were demoralizing defeats for the Union Army. The Davenport Grand Army of the Republic Post was named in his honor.

This photo was probably taken at one of those G. A. R. memorial events and these two men must have served with Porter, who is in the middle (note the distinctive ears). 

Nettie May Roundy and her husband, Edward H. Gifford, would have two children, Aimee Edna Gifford, born 1881, and my grandfather, Porter William Gifford, born 1885, both in Davenport, Iowa. He died before I was born, so I have no personal memories to relate. He was an enigma even to his son, my father.