Willis Welty Family

The Value in Re-Plowing Old Ground

It has been an interesting time for working on family history.

The part I like least about this work is prospecting for data – finding the names, dates and places necessary to fill out the tree.

That’s ground-floor stuff and I’m much more of a storyteller. I want to know what’s beyond the data with each person.

I got a message a few weeks back from my niece Michaela asking if I had any more female names for baptisms. As it turned out I was fresh out. She will be going for her own endowments next fall so until then she’s limited in what temple work she can do. So, for her sake I decided to see what I could find out there in the part of the work that’s not my favorite.

I’m glad I did. From it I learned more of the story.

~ Going for the Low Hanging Fruit ~

In all the recent work on my step-grandfather’s line – that of Pascal Henry Caldwell – I assumed I would find a lot of work on his family. After all, it now stretches back to the year 1100.

But that Caldwell family must have a lot of people out there working on it that I do not know about.

Not only did I find the data but I found lots of temple work that has been done over the past several years.

The Caldwells were not the low hanging fruit I thought they were.

So I went back to my mother’s line to see what had changed. Due to the pandemic and the situation with my Dad it’s maybe been three years since I’ve been down in the weeds on my mother’s lines. There was enough there – and still is – to keep us pretty busy.

What I noticed right off is that others have really stepped up in the time I’ve been away. In fact, I would wonder what my mother would think today if she saw how things have progressed since the last time she was able to look at it herself.

Of course, what I was about to learn is that she knows it all without being here.

She woke me up one night this week. It was her voice I heard.

~ There’s More to the Story ~

I had a long session on Family Search and Ancestry on Wednesday. I had decided to go back to some familiar names to find out where we stood on completing their temple work and what additional records we could attach to names.

When I attended Roots Tech I listened with interest to hear the numbers from Family Search and Ancestry about records they have added since the last Roots Tech was held. Billions and billions of records are added each year from sources all over the world.

I have noticed the last several years that military records have been added in abundance. And, of course, the 1950 census was just released and I wanted to update information from any family who participated in that event.

It was a long day that resulted in many “new” records being added but nothing that changed the outcome in temple work or new family discoveries.

I had a nagging sense, however, that I was actually doing something useful. That something was going to come of going back and adding records to names that technically didn’t need them.

I hit the pillow at about 1:00 am, exhausted, and slept for about 90 minutes. Then, in a dead sleep, I felt a poke on my shoulder and my mother’s voice said “John Jackson”. And that was all.

In all my years of working family history I can claim to have had feelings and promptings to something I needed to do.

But never have I ever felt anything so specific.

So I immediately got out of bed and began a search for John Jackson.

Of course, I assumed that was the entirety of his name.

There are a billion John Jacksons in the world but none that I could find that tied to my mother’s family.

I was momentarily confused as I tried to think through the problem. Then it dawned on me.

I wasn’t looking for a man whose last name was Jackson. I was looking for a man whose first and middle names were John Jackson.

In about 30 seconds I found him – John Jackson Carson, who lived from 1858 to 1924.

He was the son of Erastus Ulysses Carson, who had two families with two separate wives. We knew about John Jackson years ago and did his work, along with all of the other children of Erastus and his two wives.

What we did not know what that John Jackson, like his father, had three wives. He had children with each of them. The reason we didn’t know this before is that the records showing all this were not available the last time any work was done on John Jackson Carson.

In fact, some of the wives and children fell under the 110-year rule, meaning they might have been discoverable in some cases but we could not do their temple work.

Between the combined new record resources of Family Search and Ancestry, we have now a more complete story of John Jackson – and his 8 children from his three wives.

All of John Jackson’s children are now on the other side. Many of their records are now available. He has grandchildren and great grandchildren still living all over the country.

~ More to Every Story ~

John Jackson’s new discoveries made me question everyone on my mother’s lines. So I went back, straight to my grandparents, and began just adding what new records I could find.
Most yielded nothing new.

But, as I got past that great-grandparent level – say from 1850 to 1920 – I started uncovering a lot of new people. Wives added, children born, etc. The make-up of some family units changed dramatically.

For example, Aunt Glenora Welty, my great-grandfather’s sister, has been for years a kind of lost person.

All we had of her was a record of her name from the 1870 census when she was a year old and ten years later from the 1880 census when she was 11. That was enough information to get her baptized and sealed to her parents.

But as is often the case with female records, it ended there.

From years back I can find online inquiries from my mother asking for help in trying to discover whatever happened to Glenora. I spent considerable time about 6 years ago on Glenora and got no further than my Mom did.

But after John Jackson’s discoveries I decided to give it another go and in 20 minutes I was able to finally get somewhere.

Glenora married in 1887 at the age of 18. On the wedding record, which I think may have been available for years, they spelled her last name as Kelty instead of Welty. Her parents were not listed on the marriage record, as was common at the time.

Glenora was an usual name at the time and evidently she never used it after marrying. Every new record I found of her she is listed as Glenna.

In fact, thanks to all these new records I was able to find a brief obituary about her in the local paper:

Glenora Welty Lohman

Of course, discovering this entire family of nine people led to other stories. Glenna had a daughter named Eleanor Beatrice Lohman who never married. She died in France in 1958.

That was a curiosity to me and I wondered what happened.

Turns out, she was in France working as an insurance clerk and while there she died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage. When a foreigner working overseas dies there is a report made to send to the family – and that report is accessible now through Ancestry.

Another good reason to plow over old ground is to discover what other family members (most you likely don’t even know about) have added to either Family Search or Ancestry.

Someone at some time posted this image of my great-grandparents, Kit and Effie Carson (Kit was John Jackson’s half brother):

Kit and Effie Carson

That picture means the world to me. My mother did not get to know her Carson family growing up because her mother did not get to know the Carson family, their stories or traditions. To get anything this intimate is very significant to me.

That wasn’t the only family photo I recently discovered. Below is a picture of the Willis Welty family around the year 1915 or so. Willis is Glenora’s brother. Why is this important? Because when my grandmother – Winifred Calista Welty – was orphaned by the deaths of her parents it was with this family that she lived for a long period of time:

Willis Welty Family

Can you see why continuing to look for people we have found adds to the story? When my Nana died in 1967 my mother was only 24. She had nothing of her family that was known. Since that time we have been able to piece together their stories as every new record, photo or story is added.

I’m not done discovering things as I work through ground that has been plowed before.

In fact, I’m finding that I can get 20 to 30 records I can attach now to people who have lived in past 150 years on average. Not every person – but a great many.

This has me motivated to keep working on names we’ve already worked on before. There are stories to uncover in names we have already known about and perhaps have done the temple-work for.

It is good to learn more of their stories.

Kyle Westover

Remembering Kyle Westover

We have been showered with kindness in the days since Dad’s passing. Most precious to us have been the cards, notes, and social media posts remembering Dad and the lives he touched.

Dad was an epic producer no matter where he worked. We used to joke that he would die at his desk and that very much was a fulfilled prophecy. I have an updated project list that Dad and I worked on as recently as the day before he passed (with assigned deadlines, which I am duty-bound to honor).

It’s hard for me to speak to Dad’s work life, as he and I worked on many projects together over the course of employers we both had. Dad was also deeply embedded in the work in Christmas we do at MyMerryChristmas.com, and of course, also here at WestoverFamilyHistory.org. But he was my Dad first of all, as well as a mentor, a coach and a cheerleader.

Dad had many positive work associations and many have shared their thoughts and appreciation.

Below is a video from Rich and Todd, friends Dad worked with and for over a course of several years after relocating to Utah. I can recall Dad telling me many times about his work with them, telling me, “I’ve got to get you hooked up with Rich” or “Rich and Todd are talented guys with a tiger by the tail”.

I’ve never had a chance to really meet these gentlemen but I so appreciate them taking the time to share their thoughts about Dad and I am gratified by the really cool and personal way they chose to do this.

I had to laugh at the comments of Dad’s “verbose emails” – Dad used to counsel me about my issues with verbosity and the fact I was challenged with brevity. It’s nice to know, in an odd comforting way, that he suffered from the same with others.

So thank you, Rich and Todd, for these comments. They are meaningful to all of us who know and love Dad:

Using Family History to Make Family History

Way out from the land of California comes word that Kirk and Daena Westover will soon be leaving for the Georgia Atlanta Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a period of two years. That will be an experience for them that no doubt will add to their family history in a significant way.

As is the custom they spoke in Church before their local ward in advance of their departure. Kirk, one of our great family historians, shared a memorable message of testimony that included a fair bit of Westover family history.

In blending these tales of family experience with the words of scripture backed by testimony Kirk is doing a great service to family near and far. He is showing how relevant the past lives of our ancestors are in our present day. He acknowledges their influence and applies the lessons of their successes and challenges. This is one of the real blessings of knowing our family from as far back as we can learn about them.

I especially appreciated Kirk’s comments about his father and my grandfather — brothers who like Kirk served as missionaries while both young men and later in life with their spouses. Both of these great men are gone now and I knew them both well and love them tremendously. But Kirk’s shared insight provides yet even one more delicious bit of detail that I never had before and I greatly appreciate that.

Instead of copying his talk word for word I am merely including his notes that showcase his stories of family history as well as quotes and scriptures he used in his address. Click here to download and read.

We will miss Kirk and Daena while they serve. Kirk is a steady source of great family history and we’ll miss that for the next couple of years as he makes new family history. We wish them the best.

(By the way, for those who can see the photo at the top — that’s a photo of Kirk and his brothers — each of them missionaries at one time — taken from another period of service from their parents in New Zealand when they were boys)


Memories of Mom — Sandy Westover

Editor’s Note: I did ask a few of my children to try to contribute some memories on audio for Mother’s Day knowing full well they had some great stories to tell. Every family does.

While that didn’t exactly happen they did go to social media today to publicly express their feelings about their Mom. And funny how what they ended up doing was what I was hoping for in the first place. So, being the sneaky Dad that I am I lifted what they posted and archive those comments here. Some day they may prove to be valuable insight not only by providing a glimpse of their mother but also a bit of themselves through a couple of snapshots in time: those moments they recall, and the time now they have taken to record them. Here they are, unedited:

sew2Enoch: “My favorite memory of my mom had to be back when I was in high school playing baseball. She was my personal coach. She did research on how I could be stronger and feel better with my current diet at the time. (If I’m being honest it was not very good. But she made it work) She played catch with me on occasion. She’d take me to my early morning work outs without complaining. While driving to those work outs she’d give me a motivational speech every time out. Which really lit a spark for me personally. I wasn’t very confident in myself cause I was some random home schooled kid no one expected to make an impression and ultimately make the team. She helped me in making my protein shakes every time before and after work outs. It finally came time for the coaches to post results for who made the team. And I’ll be honest. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to play, bad. My mom was up with me that night and some time around 2 or 3 in the morning, again without complaining she took me to the school where the final rosters were posted outside the door. I remember the drive there like it was yesterday. Shaking like hell. My mom jamming out to Colbie Calet or however the hell you spell it. And when we finally got there (after 5 minutes) I saw that I made the team. We celebtated the whole car ride home and even days after that. As much as I would like to brag and say I did that all myself, I can’t. My mom is probably 90% responsible for me making that team. Even after games started she treated me like a king. Went to every game. Continued to motivate me. Supported me in everything. Helped me keep a level head and a somewhat healthy diet. Though I do remember getting a baconator at Wendy’s after almost every game… Yes she’s been my coach my entire life. She’s been my best friend. And that’s something that I’ll never forget and something I’ll treasure till the day I die.”

sew6Maggie: “Hi mom, thanks for birthing me and saying funny things that I don’t understand and for supporting me through so much and so many mess ups and for often tolerating my humor. You’re totally hip. I love you so much.”

Allie: “I’ve never seen eye to eye with my mom on everything, but never have I known a person who loves and encourages as unconditionally as she does. She crazy, she tells weird jokes, doesn’t make sense 98% of the time, doesn’t understand any of the jokes we tell, but above all who really needs her to do any of those things when she’s who she is? My mom makes me laugh hysterically because she’s a goofball and she doesn’t realize it. It’s who she is.

One of my favorite memories is when I was younger. I wanna say 10 or 11. I was homeschooled at the time and my mom set some rules, if you don’t finish your homework, you can’t go out and play with your friends. Simple as that. My mom taught me everything I know in terms of academics. Math, English, reading, writing, proper use of their, there, and they’re. The works. How she managed to do it with 7 kids is beyond me. Anyway, one day my mom gave me this pretty intense (intense at the time and for my age) math exercise. I remember it really well…it was 3 full pages, 16 problems on each page, long division on all 3 of those pages. I hated them with a passion then, and I still dislike them to this day. The only difference is I actually know what I’m doing now. All thanks to momma.

sew3I remember her giving me the assignment and explaining to me the step-by-step rules of long division. For the life of me I couldn’t figure it out, I would skip a step and not know which one. I loved doing the single digit problems because I felt like the smartest kid on the block, but when those numbers doubled up I considered myself doomed. I became angry and frustrated because I wanted to go play and be done with math, but I didnt know what I was doing. So I asked my mom for help, I pointed out the problem I couldn’t solve and she walked me through it again, she told me to take another swing at it and then she would watch me and see what step I was missing. “Allie you keep forgetting to bring that number down. If you don’t do that you wont find your answer.” So I did it again, skipped the same stupid step. My mom being the patient woman she is, wrote out PEMDAS at the top of the page and said “follow these steps and you will find your answer.”. Tried. Failed. Again. But my mom STILL sat there until I got it right. Back then it took about 10 minutes a problem because my mom was very thorough in her explanations. So I finished that problem and expected her to help with the rest, but she didn’t. ” Nope, I want you to do EXACTLY what we did with this one, and do it to the rest of them. If you get stuck again, let me know. But I want you to know how to do this.”. I was tired, I was fed up, the kids were outside livin’it up having a blast with their water guns out on the front lawn, and here I was stuck inside doing long division. Worst mom ever.

sew4Not. Looking back I realize if my mom didn’t push me to learn that stuff, I wouldn’t be confident in those things like I am today. I didn’t see the importance of knowing how to do math when I was 10 year-old. But now I do. Because whenever I do anything math related, my mind immediately reverts back to what my mom taught me when I was a kid. She was loving but firm in teaching us things. It’s helped all of is grow into useful and educated kids. Because of the things our mom taught us before we went to school, we have been successful in our academics and in our jobs. My freshman year was my first year of school…ever. I made the honor roll every single trimester throughout that year. And I have my mom to thank for that. Most kids are able to be successful at the freshman age because they went to preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school. I had none of that, and I don’t regret it because I had the best teacher. To homeschool 7 of your kids…is just about as patient as a person can get. I applaud my mom for her efforts in helping each of us learn. Granted there were times I wanted to be in school for other things, my mom taught us the basics. I’ve been successful in my education lately because of things I learned being in school, and also because of the things my mom taught me as a kid. Things keep going uphill and I will be forever grateful to her for taking the time to love and teach me.
Thanks for everything, momma”

Abby: ”One of my favorite memories of my mom was when she got sick of talking to us so she pretended she lost her voice for a whole day. She’s the greatest.”

“Ooh I almost forgot about this one. My mom on one of her sleep deprived Benadryl trips. I know you hate this, Mom, but we hold these moments dear.”

Madelyn: “The happiest of mothers days to my dearest mom Sandy Gillen Westover

sew5She is the walking definition of “age is just a number” and she’s my hero. Mom, you really have no idea how much you mean to me. I know I’m not the best daughter and I don’t deserve a mom as perfect as you. But I love you so so much and I’m so lucky I have you in my life not only as a mother, but also a supporter, and mentor, and a best friend. I love you so so much.
I have a ton of favorite mom memories ranging from frozen yogurt dates to doing the dishes together. But here’s one that’s one of my personal favorites.
On Christmas Eve a last year, me and my sisters made the mistake of watching the mid season finale of season four of the walking dead. (Spoiler someone beloved to me died in this episode) after this episode I was a complete mess. A pathetic human cucumber drowning in the tears over grief from the death of a person that never actually existed. But honestly I cried for hours. And it was Christmas Eve. Me being me, I went to go find my mother in search of comfort because I believed she’d make it all better. She did. I walked into my parents room with a blanket wrapped around me and a tissue shoved up my nose and I plopped my sad excuse of a self on their bed. My mom saw me in distress and frantically asked me what happened. I explained to her the situation and she hugged me and rubbed my back and told me everything was going to be ok. She even threw in a sympathetic “awh honey” in there. I looked up with tears in my eyes while my mom held me. I looked over at my dad and he gave me the most FED UP LOOK OF HIS LIFE. He looked me dead in the face and said “are you kidding me? That’s what you’re crying about? GET A LIFE.” This made me laugh because Its true. This was the life I was leading, but aye it’s a very emotionally involved show. This made my mom feel even more sympathetic for me. So, it being Christmas Eve, she grabbed a half eaten chocolate bar and got a Christmas bow from her closet and carefully put the bow on the chocolate to give to me. This is just one example of the extent of my mothers love. How ridiculous was this situation? Probably broke the scale of pathetic but my mother didn’t care because she loves everything and everyone so much. Happy Mother’s Day to my hero. (Sorry for the sad pathetic story. Thanks for loving me anyways mom) “

Memories of Mom — Evie

Editor’s note: Aunt Evie created a bit of a stir this week by sharing her memories of her mother. It seems to have set off a flood of memories of Evie…and I could listen to these stories all day. As these thoughts were sent to me I thought it would be great to compile them in one random post, which is what we’ve done below. The funny thing is that when I received these things I had the distinct feeling I get when I sit in Evie and Darrell’s family room just chatting with folks who have gathered there forever…it’s a feeling of being at home. My profound thanks to all for contributing these thoughts. — JSW

Young'uns of Evie and Darrell

Young’uns of Evie and Darrell

Kirk: “I tend to only remember moments, not stories. I remember Mom woke us up for seminary by smothering our faces with kisses. I remember her singing in the kitchen. I remember her laugh. I remember that my brothers picked her up and passed her about from one to another just because they could. I remember her getting frustrated once and loudly hollering, ” Great gooey gobs of gopher guts.” stuff like that.”

Kim: “Some of my favorite memories of Mom are things that happened around the Holidays. The looks between Mom and Dad, either with no words at all, or with just one word, “Darrell”. That usually signified the violation of “don’t get anything for me” instructions. There were presents with special messages from Santa about sharing with brothers and sister in handwriting that looked familiar. There’s one memory that is particularly close to my heart. I can still close my eyes and see what I thought was the most beautiful birthday cake I had ever seen. I may have transformed it in my mind over the years, but I see it as big and white and beautiful with candles burning. It had to be the best birthday cake ever, because it was to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. I don’t know how old I was at the time–maybe 5 or 6? That would make that event almost sixty years in the past, yet there hasn’t been a single holiday since that I haven’t recalled the impression. Whatever the actual details of the event, I knew in my heart that this was the birthday of Jesus and that it was the most wonderful birthday ever, because my Mommy told me.”

Kirk (to Paul): A special memory to me is the feeling that I got whenever Mom and Dad came home from the temple in New Zealand. I truly looked forward to it without really understanding why. It suggests that I was able to feel the spirit at a time when I may not have fully recognized what it was. At this time it was acceptable for parents of children to serve as ordinance workers and it was at this time that Dad and Mom were getting their initial training in the temple. Did you experience this?

Paul: “When counseling parents who come in for recommends I often share with them that if they will go to the temple regularly they will create in the hearts of their children the desire to go to the temple… and that I knew when I was 5-6 years old that I wanted to go… because of the love and joy that I felt when my Mom and Dad would come home from the temple in NZ. I knew that it was a place that I wanted to go because I wanted to feel what they were feeling…I wanted to partake of the fruit of that tree. Yes, I absolutely experienced that… and it made waiting to turn 12 seem like forever!”

Editor’s note #2: The picture that appears at the top of this post has a story behind it. I know several know the story. It’s appropriate for Mother’s Day, for sure. But I think the story of the picture is better told by someone other than me and I think all those with a connection to someone in that small not-so-perfect picture needs to know it…any volunteers?