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.

Name Games of Family History

Our ward is headed to the Temple this weekend, a combination of Ward Temple Night and Youth Baptisms. I volunteered some family names for the kids to do, forgetting that the well was temporarily dry for baptisms. We’ve been doing a lot of baptizing the past several months.

I so spent some evening hours this week working to see if I could come up with some names. My mother’s side has thousands and thousands of names but over the years both my brother’s wards and my Mom’s wards and stakes have raided the stockpile – and I was fresh out of baptisms.

I have come to rely on two very important family history elements when it comes to temple work: prayer and dreams.

Since becoming so heavily involved with family history I have experienced a change in my dreams. It is such that even my wife comments on it because I guess I’m a vociferous dreamer.

I cannot and do not lay claim to any kind of spectacular or direct experiences in my dreams.

Unlike some, I have never had a dream of an ancestor I never personally knew.

I dream of my grandparents frequently and I always enjoy those dreams even if I cannot make sense of them.

Earlier this week I dreamed of my Mom’s step father, Pat Caldwell.

He and I were very close in the years before he returned home to Louisiana. This most recent dream was more about a car and in the dream this grandfather was telling me he needed a car that could hold more of his family.

Like him, I have a weakness for big cars – so there was nothing unusual about this dream.

I hadn’t really done much work on his family so when I sat down after work one night this week I felt that maybe I needed to take inventory of what was done.

After all, it’s possible. I don’t know if they have big cars in the afterlife but I’m not past using a car as a sign that he wanted family work done, you know?

I found that Mom had done quite a bit, including temple work, for his family.

As so often happens, I lost track of time in reading names, looking for holes, and seeing when and where everyone lived. It gave me yet another look into his background. But my night ended without a single name that could be baptized.

As I thought about that later as I was trying to sleep I realized that I wasn’t really organized or focused in the right way in sitting down to find names.

To be honest, the whole data mining experience of family history is not my favorite.

Finding names, aligning dates, plugging holes in timelines – it is all tedious work.

It requires a detective’s mind and a ton of patience.

That’s just not me, kids.

My love of family history comes from the actual history – the stories. I really enjoy discovering the lives of my family and telling their stories.

But I had made a commitment to supply names for the temple.

I knew there had to be some I could find before this weekend.

I realized I had omitted the most important step of all when I began my name finding experience.

I had forgotten to pray.

So I prayed.

And then I just sat there for a minute thinking about where I should go. On my screen my tree in Family Search was laid out before me. I’ve looked at it so much and worked on it so regularly these past five or six years I’ve come to realize I have actually memorized details on all sides for several generations.

Within a few minutes I felt I should take a fresh look at the Welty family.

My mother’s mother was named Welty. I’ve spent a lot of time on that line in the past year.

They lived in the same area of southwestern New York state for generations. Many served in the Civil War. If they had one common family trait that I could pin point it would be that as adults they never stayed single long.

They married long and if a spouse died they remarried very soon. I had noticed this in several Welty names I had worked on.

They also had some unusual and even beautiful names. One name that I discovered months ago was the female name Glenora. I fell in love with that name the first time I saw it.

As a young married couple I can recall the fun Sandy and I had contemplating potential names for our babies.

We made long lists of names, both male and female. We never learned the gender of our kids before they were born and I think part of the reason why is because of the fun we would have together as we bounced names off of each other.

As a result, each of our children have names we love and spent a lot of time considering – and we’d likely never change the names we gave them.

Family played a big part in naming our kids and there is a story or a connection with each one.

But I’ve often wondered how we might have been influenced had we both been more active in family history during our baby naming years.

The name Glenora might not have been a finalist but it would have made the list.

Glenora Welty is mentioned on only two census records from the 19th century – at least that I have found so far for her.

Her temple work is not done because we don’t have enough verifiable information of her birthdate and she just up and disappears when she was about 7 years old.

She was born in 1869, the 2nd daughter to George and Maria – and her big sister was named Emma, who was just a year older.

I did a fresh search for Glenora and came up empty.

Well, kinda sorta not really.

You see, I noticed something in looking at the 1870 census – a record I had looked at previously.

In that census, when she was only 2, her name is listed as Glencora.

I never noticed that before.

Quickly I made a search for a Glencora Welty – and I came up with zip.

Nothing. Frustrated as ever.

Part of what makes it so frustrating is that George and Maria lived a good long time and we find them on the 1905 state census from New York and Emma is living there still – at the age of 38.

But Glenora or Glencora is nowhere to be found.

For whatever reason, I’ve thought for a long time that maybe she died as a child.

And I thought how horrible that would have been for them as a family.

But then I thought of the names George and Maria gave their kids. They had a son named Willis, and that’s a family name that I’ve seen a few times in the Welty line going back.

It made me wonder if the names Emma or Glenora or Glencora were in some way inspired by their families.

As I pondered that I began looking back.

George was the son of Jacob Welty, the eldest son and 3rd child of eight in this family.

George was also a Civil War veteran, being in his early 20s during the war.

I had been to this family record dozens of times over the past few years.

George and Maria married right after the war in 1864 or 1865 and I never looked for George again in Jacob’s house.

But I noticed for the first time a link to the 1870 census for Jacob and I began to wonder just how many of the Welty’s eight children were still there.

To my shock, I find on that census that George had a new little sister. She was born just before George left for the war.

Her name was Cora.

Is it possible this sister was the inspiration for naming a daughter Glencora?

I don’t know.

But I thank little Glencora or Glenora or whatever her name really was.

Because Cora Welty was quite a find.

Cora married when she was about 20 and her name become Cora Kinney. She had two children.

Something happened to her spouse and Cora remarried a widower who was some 20 years her senior. She had two more children with this new husband.

And of course, all these children got married and had families.

Suffice it to say there are plenty of new family names headed to the temple for baptism this weekend.

And I have a mystery on my hands I just have to solve. Almost all of Glenora’s family has been to the temple – including now her Aunt Cora.

I’m sure they’re together. And I want Glenora to know – we will NOT forget her. We will find her. Her name, whatever it really is, is permanently on my brain and in my heart.