favorite photo


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52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 2 prompt:  Favorite photo.
Old photos are my “favorite photo.”

I could no more single one out as my favorite anymore than I could single out one chocolate chip from a bag as my “favorite;” I love them all so much.  My favorite photo of this particular moment, however, is this one:

Many thanks for this gem, cousin Knut Asle Røsnæs!

Seated with the three youngest of their 11 children, my maternal great-grandparents Carl Johan EILERTSEN Fjelse, Sr. (Mar. 12, 1848 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–Between 1911-’30 Norway) & Ingeborg SIGBJØRNSDTR Homma (Feb. 11, 1871 Homma, Gyland, Vest Agder, Norway–1953 Norway).

While I don’t know when this photo was taken, I’m going to speculate between 1926 & 1930, based on my guess of the daughters’ ages in it.  The youngest of the three pictured, Judith Synnøve EILERTSEN Fjelse (Apr. 8, 1911 Flekkefjord, Norway–Feb. 15, 1977 Norway), looks to me to be aged no more than her mid-teens; in 1926, she would have thus been, at the most, about 14 or 15; in 1930, 19 or 20; so, I think a 1926-to-1930 date-taken guess is pretty solid for this photo…  This would make Ingrid Elise EILERTSEN Fjelse (Aug. 11, 1909 Fjelse, Flekkefjord, Norway–Sept. 29, 2003 last residence Largo, Pinellas, Florida, USA) aged 16-to-22 here, and, Gunhild Solveig (Solveig) EILERTSEN Fjelse (July 14, 1907 Flekkefjord, Norway–Sept. 29, 2001 last residence Largo, Pinellas, Florida, USA) somewhere in the 18-to-23 range.  [<- Your feedback?  Appreciated.]

It’s a tie as to who jumps out at me first in the photo:  my grandaunt Ingrid or, my great-grandfather Carl Johan.  Ingrid because, I had an Oh my gosh! reaction to how much she resembles both myself and my next-down sister in the face, and, as someone who never saw any photographs of her Norsk-side kin (other than of my own grandmother, who died when I was four) until she started researching her ancestry, this just felt so extraordinary, astonishing:  I look like these people.

But, Great-Grandpa Carl Johan because, WOW.  I mean, just look at him…  To me, he looks to have stepped right out of Johanna Spyri’s, Heidi, among my very favorite childhood reads, and, the wonderful 1937 movie adaptation of the book featuring Shirley Temple as Heidi and, Jean Hersholt as the mountain-dwelling grandfather.

A genealogist cousin1 in Norway told me that Norwegian bygdebøker (farm record books) show Carl Johan’s occupation as woodworker.  While I don’t know exactly what sort of “woodworking” was involved, I look at those hands — long fingers, and I imagine artistry.

Then my eyes move to my Great-Grandma Ingeborg — and may I just interject here, isn’t it neat to see photos where the subjects are not all looking straight into the camera?! — and, she seems a softly elegant contrast to “Heidi’s mountain-dwelling grandfather,” i.e. my Great-Grandfather Carl Johan.

Ingeborg’s hands too, long-fingered and much like my own, and, I know from family lore that she was an excellent seamstress, a skill she passed on to at least two of her daughters, my grandmother Sally Marie (Rosalie) EILERTSEN Fjelse (June 4, 1892 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–Oct. 22, 1952 Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA) and, eldest daughter Emilie Katinka EILERTSEN Fjelse (Nov. 25, 1889 Norway–Sept. 15, 1975 Enfield, Hartford, Connecticut, USA).  (Grandma Rosalie & Emilie are said to have joined in a dress-making & -designing effort in New York at one point, early on before they both married.)  My hunch, all of the clothing in this picture was made by women in this family…

I could study this photo repeatedly; it hasn’t stopped talking to me, yet.
1 Signe Elisabeth Zijdemans, Flekkefjord, Norway.


starting your family history research


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52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 1 prompt:  Start.
When I first delved into researching my family history, I quite literally didn’t know where to start.  This was back in the 1990s when the internet was young and, before Ancestry.com became synonomous in the minds of millions, with,genealogy research…  (And, hint:  Ancestry.com?  But one source of many, folks.)

Even now, in this age of genealogy websites all over the internet; PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow; &, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., if I bring up genealogy research — my latest discoveries, a particularly neat find — I’m met frequently with, “That sounds so fascinating but I wouldn’t know where to begin…”

First step?  S t a r t.
Beginning is mostly
a, Just Do It, kind of thing.

Start with what, though?
What you already know and, have on hand.


FAMILY PAPERS (see gold box above)  They truly are, gold.  Scrounge for all you can find.

I will add to this one, medical records of deceased family members.  Ones I unearthed revealed trivia I’d learn nowhere else…

ELDERS IN YOUR FAMILY  That’s right; the old coots.  The furthest-out-there generations still living that you can find.  They can provide facts and, wonderful anecdotal information & stories you just will not find elsewhere.  By the time I began my research, my mother & maternal grandparents were long dead; my paternal grands were deceased; and my father had the beginnings of dementia; etc.  That made for a harder road.  Talk to those people while they are yet alive!  (Take a page from Native American culture:  Value your elders.)

They drop like flies after a certain point. 😐  For heavens sake, interview them while you can.

When I began my family research in the 1990s, my mother’s siblings were gone; my father’s, also long gone.  I did however make brief contact with a paternal aunt, Geraldine (Geri) (McGinnis) Buckner — who abruptly died (old people simply do that; be fast) after we’d exchanged a couple of letters and were in process of arranging a visit.  This experience “learned me” in regard to older kin:  Waste no time!  And, Act with expedience!  Seriously.

But before she did leave this world, Aunt Geri told me an astounding fact:
I had a paternal first cousin I was completely unaware of!  (I have a mental image of myself circa, Hmmm, 1st or 2nd grades, standing in our living room asking my father, who was virtually 100% estranged from his family, “Does Aunt Nell have any kids?”  I can still “see” the both of us — center of the room, standing to one side of the staircase — my father sort of chewing his lips and frowning slightly before answering, “No, she doesn’t.”  Well, I learned from Aunt Geri that that was a blatant fib.)

“Oh yes,” Aunt Geri told me over the phone, she in Missouri, me way up in Wisconsin, “Nell had a baby daughter.  She lost her, looked and looked for her for years & years…  It was so sad.”

My aunt Nell, only sister of my father, had a daughter; “lost” her; and, my own father somehow didn’t know of this tragedy??  (Or, had purposely kept it from me?…  Why?)

Much digging turned up a near-made-for-tv-movie type story on this very-much-not-lost, yet, only-discovered-through-genealogy-research first cousin, but, that I will save for another blog post.  Suffice it to say, you will be surprised at some of what you find in your ancestral attic.

ONLINE MESSAGE BOARDS  Without these?!  I might not have learned (so soon, anyway) that among my 6th great-granduncles is an infamous cryptid 😮 known as “the Jersey Devil.”

Third cousin once removed Larry G. Greger (1944–2007 Illinois), whom I met online in a message board and learned more of my Greger-side ancestry from than anyone or any place else since — Larry was one of those walking encyclopedia types where family history was concerned — turned me on to this fact.  (It so alarmed me when first I heard it that I would not hear, or, even peek at anything regarding it for over a year.  “Don’t start, Larry,” I would say if he tried to bring it up. 😀 )


This alleged offspring of my 7th Great-Grandparents Japheth Leeds, Sr. (circa 1682-’88 New Jersey–abt Feb. 5, 1735-’36 New Jersey), & Deborah Smith (abt 1685–1748 New Jersey), per the The New Jersey Historical Society, is generally traced back to my very own 7th Great-Grandmum Deborah, “who emigrated from England in the 1700s to marry a Mr. Leeds [Grampa Japheth].  The Leeds family lived in the area of the NJ Pine Barrens…  Mrs. Leeds had given birth to 12 children and was about to give birth to her 13th.  The story goes that Mrs. Leeds invoked the devil during a very difficult and painful labor and that when the baby was born, it either immediately, or very afterwards, (depending on the version of the story), grew into a full-grown devil and escaped from the house.”  Other versions of the story give variations on this account, one being that the child was born “a monster,” i.e. deformed.  “It may be that indeed Mrs. Leeds gave birth to a child with a birth defect and given the superstitions of the period, the legend of the Jersey Devil was born.  People in the 1700s still believed in witchcraft and many people of the period felt a deformed child was a child of the devil or that the deformity was a sign that the child had been cursed by God.”1

Nevertheless, “In the last 200 years or so, there have been a number of ‘sightings’ and the hearing of eerie noises/wails in the forests which have been attributed to the Jersey Devil,…”  Poor uncle. :-/  (And poor Grandmama Deborah, to go down in history so “memorably?” :-/ )1

Over the years, “People have found ‘strange’ tracks and attributed them to the Jersey Devil. One instance of such tracks was reported, (along with loud shrieks), near May’s Landing in 1960. Also in 1960, merchants in Camden offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the Jersey Devil. They said they would build a private zoo to display the creature if anyone could capture it. The reward is unclaimed.”1

SNAIL-, E-MAIL & PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH KIN MET ONLINE  Just invaluable.  Absolutely invaluable.

Multiple cousins from Clark & Crawford Counties, Illinois, have provided me so much background on the huge number of my Buckner kin in those areas:  from photos to anecdotal data to history to you-name-it.  From one of them I first learned of my paternal grandfather Jesse Grant (Grant) Buckner’s (1882 Illinois–1941 Missouri) orphan background, along with that of his siblings after their mother’s sudden & unexpected death.

I first learned the following factoid regarding my paternal grandfather, Jesse (Grant) Buckner and, his parents/my great-grands, from several Clark & Crawford County, Illinois, cousins met online:

…Richard and Mary Elizabeth Buckner were living on their farm between West Union and Martinsville in Clark County, Illinois…  The mother, Mary Elizabeth, became ill while visiting friends on a nearby farm on Dec. 20, 1886, and died on December 24.  [Christmas Eve.  Can you imagine?]  Dora and Lula [ages 13, &, six at the time] were taken to the home of [their maternal grandparents] Christian and Catharine Fasig.  The boys [Perry Comodore, age 11; William Frederick (Fred), age nine; Grant, age four; & Edward D. (Eddie), age two & 10 months], except Homer [six months], were taken to a soldiers orphanage at Normal, Illinois, where Edward died at the age of two.  Edward’s grave has never been located.  Homer was taken by the family of Jacob Serwise.  …”

Major genealogy data!

HISTORICAL SOCIETIES  Even teeny small ones.
MUSEUMS  Yes, museums.  A recreational drive in the Wisconsin countryside in 2001 took me into Mt. Horeb and into the Mt. Horeb Area Museum, such a little-bitty hole-in-the-wall at the time that I almost missed the entrance.

What did I see sitting on the counter in the museum gift shop but, the bright red cover of a Mt. Horeb-Presettlement to 1986 book.

Now, while I did know that Grandunk Dr. Homer Buckner supposedly lived & had a clinic at one time somewhere around Dodgeville or Mt. Horeb, that was the extent of my knowledge.  But serendipity led me to pick up the book; turn to the index; and look for, Buckner.  I was floored to read:

“On November 4, 1918, five Mt. Horeb businessmen went to Prairie du Sack to induce Dr. Homer M Buckner to set up an office here [in Mt. Horeb].  The prospect of having an operating room was a proposition he could not resist.  Dr. and Mrs. (Marie) Buckner arrived in Mt. Horeb on Armistice Day, 1918.  He used St. Olaf Hospital to perform many surgeries until December 1921, when he purchased the spacious three story residence at 408 East Main Street, built by Onon B. Dahle in 1895.3

“In 1922, he opened a 22 bed hospital with offices…on the first floor.  …3

“….H. M. Buckner…retained several of the elegant rooms on the first floor for living quarters for himself and his new bride, Marie Pierstoff.  His skill as a surgeon gave him a large practice and he performed major surgery as well as countless tonsillectomies, which were almost routine during that period for children with sore throats.  One pleasure that usually followed the tonsillectomy was that the patient got a malted milk, for it soothed the throat as it provided nourishment.  …3

“In 1939, the Industrial Commission complained that the hospital was not sufficiently fireproof and early in 1940 informed Dr. Buckner it could no longer function as a hospital.  Dr. Judson A Forman purchased the property for an office and consultation rooms.  Dr. Buckner moved May 1, 1940, to Dodgeville where there were hospital facilities.  …3

“….[Dodgeville’s] larger hospitals provided better facilities for his surgery.  He became especially adept at removing gall bladders.  Many of his Mt. Horeb patients continued to seek his services after the move.”3

The museum even had glassed-in “reproductions” of what his offices looked like at the time.

CENSUSES  Census images reveal more than just names.  Value of property owned; educational level; year of immigration; year of marriage:  different census years offer a variety of information.

OLD BOOKS  Googling turns up all sorts of things.

AND MANY, MANY, MORE  Imagination helps.  (Never give up.).
The New Jersey Historical Society, at http://jerseyhistory.org/legend_jerseydevil.html , accessed Jan., 2018.
2 PHOTO, the Jersey Devil:  public domain.
3 Mt. Horeb-Presettlement to 1986, Mt. Horeb (WI) Area Museum* gift shop; pages 47 & 121; 1986 softcover edition; purchased fall, 2001.  *[Now called the Driftless Historium; website, http://www.mthorebhistory.org/driftless-historium.html .]

bridenapped — helena sverkersdatter


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Doing some Norsk-side genealogy research, I learned how one of my 21st great-grandmothers, Helena of Sweden SVERKERSDATTER, was a victim of bride-kidnapping.  While this horrified 😮 me, it is a practice that goes on yet today in numerous countries.

Although “in most nations, bride kidnapping is considered a sex crime rather than a valid form of marriage,” it continues yet today “in Central Asia, the Caucasus region, and parts of Africa, and among peoples as diverse as the Hmong in Southeast Asia, the Tzeltal in Mexico, and the Romani in Europe.”[1]

Per some sources, honeymoons are in fact, “a relic of marriage by capture, based on the practice of the husband going into hiding with his wife to avoid reprisals from her relatives, with the intention that the woman would be pregnant by the end of the month.”

But on to my very own way-back Great-Grandmama Helena of Sweden SVERKERSDATTER (circa 1190 Denmark1247)[2], daughter of King of Sweden (reign, from 1196–1208) Sverker The Younger KARLSSON — “Sverker den yngre KARLSSON” in Swedish; “Sörkvir KARLSSON” in Old Norse — born circa 1164died July 17, 1210 Battle of Gestilren, Sweden, &, his first wife, Benedicta EBBESDATTER (circa 1165/’70–1200).[3]

Helena “was the first of the three prominent victims of the Maid Abduction from Vreta[*], others being her daughter Benedicta of Bjelbo and granddaughter Ingrid SVANTEPOLKSDOTTER.  Helen SVERKERSDOTTER, the only daughter of the deposed king, was educated at Vreta Abbey at the time of her father’s death.  Her relatives would not even hear the proposal of young Sune FOLKASON ( –1247), son of an earl who had been among Sverker’s opponents in the battle in which he himself fell.  Sune FOLKESSON was of one of the two dynasties that been rivals for the Swedish throne since 1130, and Helen was from the other, the Sverker dynasty.”[2]


* Vreta Convent aka “Vreta Abbey, Swedish Vreta Kloster, in operation from the beginning of the 12th century to 1582, was the first nunnery in Sweden, initially Benedictine and later Cistercian, and one of the oldest in Scandinavia.  It was located in the present-day municipality of Linköping in Östergötland.”  “The original buildings burned down in the early 13th century, but were rebuilt, and a new church was dedicated…in 1289.  Vreta Abbey was a house of Benedictine nuns until 1162, when it was turned into a Cistercian nunnery.”  “It was a prestigious establishment, and the church is the burial place of…kings…”[5]

In those times, “Marriage was an alliance contract and also had many economical repercussions.  A man was not allowed to marry a woman from an enemy clan unless it was to senal a treaty between the clans.  On the other hand, a man might want to marry an heiress from a rival clan in order to impose his own power upon that clan.[6]

“Abduction of 1210
“Around 1210, Helena SVERKERSDOTTER, the only daughter of the deposed King Sverker II, was studying at the Vreta convent when her father fell in battle.  The young Sune FOLKASON, son of an earl who had been among Sverker’s opponents in that battle and had also fallen, wished to marry her, but her relatives would not hear his proposal.  FOLKASON abducted Helena and, according to folklore, took her to the castle of Ymseborg.  They married and had two daughters.”

“In 1216, Helen’s brother became King John I of Sweden.  When he died childless in 1222, Helen and her daughters became heirs of the Sverker dynasty.[2]

“One of her daughters, Catherine, in 1243 was married to King Eric XI, thus finally uniting the two Swedish dynasties.

“Abduction of 1244
“Around 1244, Benedikte [Bengta] SUNADOTTER, the younger daughter of Sune FOLKASON and Helena SVERKERSDOTTER, was being educated at the Vreta convent.  Laurens PEDERSSON, Justiciar ofn Östergötland, abducted her.  One theory is that PEDERSSON may have been a grandson of a king of the St. Eric dynasty and wished to unite that dynasty with Benedikte’s Sverker dynasty.  He may also have had designs on the throne.  In any case, Benedikte was released and soon married high noble Svantepolk KNUTSSON, Lord of Viby, with whom she had several daughters and a son, Knut, who died childless.[6]

“Abduction of 1288
“In 1288, Ingrid SVANTEPOLKSDOTTER, one of the daughters of Benedikte and Svantepolk, was being educated at the Vreta convent.  Her father had intended her to marry a Danish nobleman, the future High Justiciar David THORSTEINSEN.  Folke ALGOTSSON, a knight from Gothenland (and, according to myth, a descendent of Algaut), abducted her with the help of some of his brothers and fled with her to Norway.  King Magnus III, reportedly livid about the wilful breach of women’s safety in convents, had one of the brothers executed.”

“Late in life, [Helena] is said to have become the Abbess of Vreta Abbey.”[2]

Supposedly, “many” poems have been inspired by the Vreta abductions, although I could turn up none in a Google search.  If you do, please share with me! 🙂

My line to Helena SVERSDATTER, on up from my maternal grandmother’s father, Carl Johan EILERTSEN Fjelse (1848 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–after Apr., 1911), goes thusly:
> Kristine DANIELSDTR Fjelse (1808 Fjelse Nedre Br.1., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–aft. 1864)
Daniel SIVERTSEN Fjelse (1764 Fjelse nedre Br.1.VI., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–Fjelse nedre Br.1. VII., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
> Sivert DANIELSEN Fjelse (1735 Fjelse nedre Br.1. V., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–before Dec. 16, 1772 Fjelse nedre Br.1. VI., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
> Daniel SIVERTSEN Fjelse (1702 Fjelse nedre Br.1. IV., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–bef. May 3, 1755 Fjelse nedre Br.1. IV., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
> Kirsten DANIELSDTR Djupvik (1682 Djupvik Br.1. I., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway–aft. Dec. 15, 1739)
> Anna HANSDTR Kvelland (? Kvelland, Hidra, Vest Agder, Norway–aft. Dec. 15, 1739 Djupvik Br.1.I., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
> Anna STEINARSDTR Reppen (? Reppen Br.1., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway– )
> Birgitte TARALDSDTR Reppen (? Reppen Br.1.V., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway– )
> Tarald SVENSEN Reppen (about 1590 Reppen BR.1. II., Nes, Vest Agder, , Norway–1661 Reppen Br.1. IV., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
Sven OLUFSEN Reppen (abt 1559– Reppen Br.1.II., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
> Karen BERGSDTR Egeland (1520 Egeland ytre, Kvinesdal, Vest Agder, Norway– Reppen Br.1.I, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
> Unknown GUNNERSDTR Tengs (?–?)
> Gunnar ASBJØRNSEN Tengs (1470 Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway–1546 Drangeid Br.4.IV, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
> Unknown GUNBJØRNSDTR Tengs (? Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway–Tengs, Bjerkreim, Rogaland, Norway)
> Gunnbjørn TORDSEN Tengs (? Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway–aft. 1486 Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway)
> Tore GARDSEN Garå (abt 1400 Norway–abt 1454 Norway)
> Ramborg KNUTSDTR Lejon (abt 1360 Sweden–aft. 1408 Norway)
> Knut ALGOTSEN Lejon Folkunge IX (bef. 1330 Sweden– )
> Algot BRYNJULFSON Sweden
> Ingegerd SVANTEPOLKSDTR Sweden

1. Wipikedia, “the free encyclopedia,” “Bride kidnapping,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bride_kidnapping , accessed Jan., 2018.
2. Wipikedia, “the free encyclopedia,” “Helen of Sweden (13th century),” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_of_Sweden_(13th_century) , accessed Jan., 2018.
3. Enacademic.com, “Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias,” at http://enacademic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/414085 , accessed Jan., 2018.
4. PHOTO — Attribution per Wikimedia Commons for use of this photo on the web is as follows:  “By No machine-readable author provided.  Xauxa assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided.  Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=441686 ;” accessed Jan., 2018.
5. Wipikedia, “the free encyclopedia,” “Vreta Abbey,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vreta_Abbey , accessed Jan., 2018.  Redirected from “Vreta convent.”
6. Wipikedia, “the free encyclopedia,” “Vreta abductions,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vreta_abductions , accessed Jan., 2018.
7. Most of the data on my Norsk ancestral lines is from Signe Elisabeth Zidjemans, Flekkefjord, Norway; data obtained from bydgeboker.  Some is from cousin Vivian (Unhammer) Moulder.  I cannot thank either woman enough.

happy new year 2018


Dear TheMixThatMakesUpMe readers:  I’m baaackkk! 🙂


Truly — an unbroken chain of happiness & blessings.

It’s been a lonnnnnng year, that’s all I’m going to say, and I, for one, am happy to see it go / look forward to the new. 

My break from blogging is over and I look forward to writing here once more.  (One idea for next post:  “bridenapped — helena sverkersdatter”…  Haven’t decided for sure yet… 😉 )  I hope you look forward to reading my posts again!



murdered — lola dewey (gregory) halbert


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Researching my Aunt Geri (Geraldine Frances McGINNIS) BUCKNER’s (1916 Crawford County, Missouri–2006 St. Louis County, Missouri) family the other night, I may have audibly gasped upon reading at her FindAGrave.com memorial that one of Geri’s aunts, Lola (GREGORY) HALBERT, “was brutally murdered in her home on August 12, 1982 during an attempted robbery.”[1]

You watch stories like this on “Dateline,” or, “48 Hours;” they seem remote and, distant, terrible events you never expect to find in your own “family files.”

Austin Paris HALBERT & Lola Dewey GREGORY [2]

Austin Paris HALBERT (1893 Steelville, Crawford County, Missouri–1976 Sullivan, Crawford County, Missouri), next-up sibling of my Aunt Geri’s mom, Nellie A. (HALBERT) McGINNIS (1897–1982), married the lovely Lola Dewey GREGORY (1898 Hinch, Crawford County, Missouri–1982 Steelville, Crawford County, Missouri) on September 28, 1918, in Steelville.  Lola, the daughter of Winfield Scott GREGORY (1848–1911) & Susan Jane COMPTON (1856–1932), and Austin, youngest son of Volna Pearce HALBERT (1856–1944) & Francis D. (Fannie) COLEMAN (1865–1900), had two children together, Mildred Evelyn, &, Cecil.

When her husband Austin died in 1976, Lola went to live with her bachelor son Cecil.

Cecil operated the “Fishermen’s Dude Ranch,” a trout fishing resort in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains near Steelville.  Among Cecil’s employees, one Theodore F. LEWIS, Jr.[3]

Reads “STATE V. LEWIS” at Leagle.com:

[3]“Lewis worked with Cecil at the ‘Fishermen’s Dude Ranch,’…and knew that Cecil was responsible for the money generated by the pay lake.  The Halbert house is approximately one-fourth of a mile away from the ‘Dude Ranch.’  Hoping that Cecil would be home for lunch with receipts from the ‘Dude Ranch,’ Lewis drove to the Halberts on the morning of August 12.  In preparation for the robbery, Lewis obtained a shotgun, numchucks (a martial arts weapon made from two pieces of wood connected by a chain), ski mask, bailing twine, and an extra change of clothing.  He brought these items with him to the Halbert residence.  He also prepared to leave the area after the robbery by packing a sleeping bag and other personal items.

Lola Dewey (GREGORY) HALBERT [4]

“At approximately 10:30 a.m., Lewis knocked on the Halbert front door.  Lola Halbert, the eighty-three year old victim and mother of Cecil Halbert, answered the door.  Lewis identified himself by name and asked if he could use the telephone; he was not wearing the ski mask.  He had decided to leave it in his car.  After Lewis was inside, he struck Lola Halbert in the head with the numchucks, knocking her to the floor.  She started screaming and crying out for Cecil.  Cecil, however, was at work.  To silence her, Lewis struck her two more times with the numchucks while she was on the floor.  However, the victim persisted in her pleas and cries for help, so Lewis kicked her in the face and stuffed a rag into her mouth.  At this point Lola was unconscious, but Lewis did not leave.  He went outside to make sure that no one had heard the screams, came back into the house and began searching for valuables.  Unfortunately, after 15 minutes or so, the victim woke up and started crying for help again.  Lewis returned to his victim and tried to tie her up with a cord.  Having no success, Lewis then tried to strangle her with the cord.  Worried about the continued screaming by the victim, Lewis went outside again to see if anyone had heard the noise.  Seeing no one, Lewis went back in the house and saw the victim squirming, trying to get up.  He stabbed her with a meat fork and then stabbed her in the chest with a pair of scissors, but she still did not die.  Lewis went outside again and found a hatchet.  He came back in the house, went over to the victim, and struck her in the neck with the hatchet, ending her life.”[3]

Convicted of capital murder with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years[5], LEWIS appealed his conviction contending, “the murder was not premeditated.”

[3]“Lewis testified at trial to all of the aforementioned events.  He testified that all of his actions were intended to get the victim to be quiet, either by frightening her or rendering her unconscious.  Lewis testified that he did not intend to kill Lola Halbert.  Lewis did testify, however, that he had taken the numchucks to the Halbert residence, intending to use them.  He testified that he knew that they could kill.  Lewis stated that he had taken the change of clothing with him because he knew that the clothes that he was wearing would get blood on them.  Lewis testified that he intended to stab the victim with the scissors in order to scare her.  He also testified that he intended to hit her with the hatchet.

Lewis testified that he delivered that hatchet blow at 11:15 a.m.  He stated he knew this because he went to look at a clock in the house to make sure it was not noon.  He testified that he was afraid Cecil would be coming home for lunch and he did not want to be there at that time because he did not have his gun with him.  Lewis testified that he had left his shotgun leaning on a fence while walking from his car to the Halbert house.

“After striking his victim with the hatchet, Lewis resumed his search for things to steal.  He found an antique shotgun and a flashlight that he placed by the door so he would not forget them when he left.  He called Cecil at work to ask him if he had any money, but he was told no, so he decided to leave.  Before leaving, however, Lewis testified that he wrote a note to throw off the police and placed it on Lola’s chest.  The note read:  ‘I am staying around town until the time is right to kill again. /s/ The Chinaman.’

“As Lewis was fleeing the scene, his car ran out of gas.  At this time Lewis changed his blood stained clothes and threw them, along with the shotgun and flashlight he had taken from the Halbert home into the woods near his stalled car.  He had hidden the instruments used to kill Lola Halbert in or nearby outside of the Halbert home.

“At approximately 12:05 p.m., Sheriff John Giles received a call to investigate an occurrence at the Halbert residence.  Giles testified that at this time he was not exactly sure what had happened.  While en route, Giles saw Lewis standing next to his car on Highway BB.  Giles stopped and asked Lewis if he was having trouble.  Lewis told him that he was out of gas.  Giles offered to take Lewis to the ‘Dude Ranch’ so that he could get some gasoline, since it was on the way to the Halbert home.  Giles testified that because he was unsure of what had occurred at the Halberts, he surreptitiously studied Lewis, looking for evidence of blood and peculiar mannerisms.  Giles testified that there was nothing unusual about the way Lewis acted and, based on his twenty-two years in law enforcement, it did not appear that Lewis was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Giles dropped Lewis off at the ‘Dude Ranch’ and continued on to the Halbert residence.  Ben Redman, an employee at the ‘Dude Ranch,’ was there when Lewis arrived.  Redman testified that Lewis got there just as he was instructing the ambulance driver how to get to the Halberts.  Redman testified that Lewis ran up and asked him ‘What happened?  Did somebody get hurt or what?’  Redman told Lewis that he did not know and went in to call Cecil.  Cecil told Redman that his mother had been murdered and Redman told him that he would be right over.  Redman testified that both Lewis and himself went over to the Halbert house and that they sat with Cecil making ‘small talk’ trying to console him.  After Redman and Lewis left the Halbert house, Lewis asked Redman for some gas.  Redman got Lewis a gallon of gas and took him to his car.

“Lewis then fled the state, stealing gas on his way to Arkansas.”[3]

What a piece of work 😡 , but wait, there’s more:

[3]“The next morning, August 13, Lewis was arrested by Arkansas authorities in connection with the shooting of a Newport, Arkansas police officer.  Lewis was arrested by Arkansas State Police Officer Max Jones.  Jones handcuffed Lewis, put him in his patrol car, and took him to the Newport City Hall, in which the police station was housed.  Jones told Lewis several times that he was not going to ask him any questions and, therefore, did not read Lewis his Miranda rights.  Jones testified that he never questioned Lewis, but that Lewis voluntarily initiated a conversation by asking if the police officer he had shot was dead.  Jones testified that at that time he did not know that Lewis was wanted in Missouri.

“Lewis arrived at the Newport City Hall at approximately 10:30 a.m. for booking. A crowd of about 15 or 20 people were in front of the City Hall, but Lewis was taken in through a side entrance.  Officer Jones testified that he recognized the persons congregated in front of the building as those who normally transacted business there.  As court did not convene until 1:30 p.m., the Arkansas authorities proceeded to question Lewis prior to taking him before the municipal judge for arraignment.  Officer Gary Wilson and Detective Larry Cook of the Newport Police Department first questioned Lewis.  Before the questioning began, a deputy prosecutor not assigned to the case but curious, walked over to Lewis, who had his head down.  The deputy prosecutor, according to the testimony of Officer Wilson, said, ‘I just want to look at the person who shot the officer.’  With that, according to Wilson, the deputy prosecutor put his hand on Lewis’ head and ‘just sort of gently pushed his head up.’  The prosecutor then left and the questioning proceeded.

“Officer Wilson testified that he discussed both, the shooting of the Arkansas Officer and the incident that occurred in Missouri, with Lewis.  Wilson testified that he advised Lewis of his Miranda rights prior to beginning the discussion, but that Lewis began to talk before he got through the entire Miranda warning.  Wilson testified that he made Lewis stop and completed advising him of his rights.  Wilson stated that Lewis was advised two more times of his rights during that period of questioning, including prior to recording his statement.  Wilson testified that no threats or promises were made to Lewis and that Lewis was asked if he understood each of his rights and Lewis so indicated.  At no time did Lewis request counsel or ask that the questioning be stopped.

“State’s Exhibit 26, the recorded statement that Wilson took from Lewis, was introduced at trial.  However, since no one testified as to its contents at trial and Lewis did not include it in the legal file, we are not aware of its contents.  In any event, Wilson testified that the statement was typed, presented to Lewis for inspection, and he was told to correct any inaccuracies.  He made one correction, changing ‘Cecil’s’ name to ‘Halbert’ and then he signed each page after being told to do so only if he concurred with what was contained therein.  Within a couple of hours after giving this statement, Lewis was taken before an Arkansas magistrate and an Arkansas attorney was appointed to represent him.

“At approximately 6:30 p.m. that same day, Missouri authorities arrived to question Lewis about the murder of Lola Halbert.  Lewis gave a written and a tape recorded statement (which was transcribed) to these authorities.  Again, neither the written nor tape recorded statement (or transcript thereof) have been provided for us in the legal file.  Sheriff John Giles took Lewis’ written statement.  Giles testified that he advised Lewis of his Miranda rights before he began talking with him.  Lewis was asked if he understood his rights and indicated that he did.  Lewis then signed a waiver of rights form that Giles presented to him.  Giles testified that Lewis completed, in his presence, a statement in his own handwriting about what had happened in Missouri. Giles testified that at no time did Lewis request an attorney.

“Apparently, Lewis’ appointed Arkansas counsel arrived at the City Hall after Giles had taken Lewis’ written statement.  His counsel requested to be permitted to speak to Lewis immediately prior to Lewis giving his taped statement.  This request was complied with and Lewis and his counsel conferred for about 40 minutes.  Missouri State Highway Patrolman Paul Mertens testified that none of the Missouri authorities were aware that Lewis had counsel at the time he gave his written statement and that the first time they became aware of the fact was immediately prior to the taped statement when the attorney asked to see Lewis.

“Patrolman Mertens testified that after Lewis finished speaking with his attorney, he proceeded to take Lewis’ taped statement.  Mertens stated that, as he remembered, Lewis’ attorney only requested that the Missouri officers not discuss the Arkansas case with Mr. Lewis and did not try to stop them from questioning him about the Missouri case.  As to what counsel advised Lewis to do in regard to the Missouri case, we are unaware.  Lewis did not testify to his conversation with counsel and the record does not indicate what was said.

“Mertens testified that when Lewis returned after consulting with his counsel, he asked Lewis if he wanted to continue and Lewis said, ‘yes.’  Mertens testified that he again outlined for Lewis his rights under Miranda, indicating his right to have an attorney present, and Lewis stated that he did not want an attorney.  It was then that the taped confession was made.

“At trial, Lewis testified that the written statement given to Sheriff Giles and the taped statement given to Patrolman Mertens were true and accurate.  He testified further that he had not been threatened or coerced into giving any statement and that he had not been denied anything that he requested.  He stated that he had not asked for an attorney before his written statement to Giles and that he did not object to talking about the Missouri incident after he had conferred with his Arkansas counsel.  Lewis testified that he had made the statements because he wanted to tell what had happened and because he wanted to get out of Arkansas and back to Missouri.

“Prior to trial, Lewis waived his right to a jury trial and, in exchange, the prosecutor did not seek the death penalty.  Defense counsel filed a pre-trial notice of his intention to rely on the defense of mental disease and, thereafter, a motion for a psychiatric examination to determine Lewis’ capacity to stand trial, and whether, at the time of the offense, Lewis could appreciate the nature of his conduct or conform his conduct to the requirements of law.  The motion was granted and a psychiatric examination was ordered.  Doctor S.D. Porwatiker conducted the examination and found that Lewis understood the charges against him and could assist his attorney in his defense.  Doctor Parwatiker also found that at the time of the offense, Lewis knew and appreciated the nature, quality, and wrongfulness of the offense and was capable of conforming his conduct to the requirements of law.

“In his first point Lewis contends that the trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress, and trial objections to, the admission of his recorded statements.  Lewis argues that the state failed to prove that he initiated further communication with the Missouri authorities ‘after expressing a desire for assistance of counsel.’  Lewis also argues that the trial court erred in these rulings because the statements were involuntary because of his counsel’s failure to prevent interrogation by the Missouri authorities.

“Addressing Lewis’ first argument, we note initially that he does not claim trial error in the admission of his statement given to Arkansas Police Officer Max Jones.  Further, the record does not indicate that Lewis ever requested counsel prior to, during, or after the Missouri authorities had interrogated him.  We recognize the principle, cited by Lewis, contained in State v. Oldham, 618 S.W.2d 647 (Mo. banc 1981), i.e., if accused requests counsel, further questioning can be had only if accused voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently initiates the communication.  This principle applies if the accused has requested counsel.

“Lewis asserts that he ‘obviously had requested counsel as one had been appointed by the Arkansas court prior to interrogation by Missouri officials.’  The record does not indicate this.  Lewis did not testify that he had requested counsel.  Indeed, Lewis did not testify about the statements.  Under Arkansas law, one need not request counsel in order for the court to appoint one.  …  In the absence of evidence in the record, we will not presume the request.

“The record indicates that Lewis’ rights were adequately protected by the interrogation procedure.  The Missouri authorities arrived, and gave Lewis his Miranda warning.  Lewis stated he understood the warning, including his right to counsel, but nevertheless signed a written waiver of rights.  The Missouri authorities were unaware that an Arkansas attorney had been appointed to represent Lewis and at no time did Lewis so indicate.  After learning that an attorney had been appointed, Lewis was allowed to confer with counsel for forty minutes.  What advice his counsel gave is a matter of conjecture as Lewis did not testify about the conference with his attorney.  However, after Lewis returned, he was again read his Miranda rights and expressed a willingness to continue with the questioning.  Lewis testified at trial that he had not asked for an attorney before conferring with his counsel and that he did not object to talking with the Missouri authorities afterwards.  He testified that he made the statements because he had wanted to and that he was not threatened or coerced in any fashion.  Viewing the totality of the circumstances surrounding the questioning by the Missouri authorities, we conclude that the statements given by Lewis were voluntary and that the procedure adequately protected his constitutional rights.

“Lewis’ second argument is that his statement was involuntary because his Arkansas attorney did not ‘prevent further interrogation by Missouri authorities by invoking {Lewis’} Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent.’  Lewis claims that his counsel was ineffective for this reason.  Because of the lack of an adequate record, we are unable to decide the point.  As noted, Lewis did not testify as to what advice his attorney gave to him during their forty minute conference.  Counsel may well have advised Lewis to remain silent.  The record does not indicate what transpired and, therefore, we cannot conclude that counsel was ineffective or that Lewis’ statement was involuntary.

“In his final point, Lewis contends the trial judge erred in finding him guilty of capital murder because the evidence was insufficient to prove premeditation and deliberation.  …”[3]

At this juncture I would just like to insert, OMG 😮 , “the evidence was insufficient to prove premeditation and deliberation”?!?  (On what planet!?!)  What an insolent joker.  Again:  What a piece of work!  Dance that you escaped the death penalty you lowlife. 😡  (And I am, normally, anti the death penalty…)

[3]“Reviewing the evidence and its reasonable inferences, we find the following:  Lola Halbert, the eighty-three year old mother of the intended robbery victim, was struck in the head, kicked, tied up, strangled, stabbed with a meat fork, stabbed with scissors and struck in the neck with a hatchet.  Lewis performed these heinous acts over the course of an hour and one-half.”[3]


[3]“Further, prior to his arrival at the Halbert residence, Lewis planned to rob Cecil Halbert.  He took numchucks, a shotgun with shells, and an extra change of clothes with him.  He testified that he intended to use the numchucks and that they could kill.  He also stated that he would have used the shotgun if he had to and that he knew that a loaded shotgun could kill.  Lewis testified further that he intended to perform all of the violent acts at the time he did them; to kick, choke, stab, and strike with a hatchet.  Further, there is no indication of any type of struggle, and the fatal beating was inflicted at a time when the victim was alone.  From the seriousness of this beating being inflicted on an eighty-three year old woman Lewis was practically certain to cause the death of Lola Halbert.  There are no questions about Lewis’ mental capacity.  The psychiatric examination of Lewis concluded that ‘at the time of the alleged offense, he knew and appreciated the nature, quality and wrongfulness of the alleged offense and was capable of conforming his conduct to the requirements of the law.’  Lewis’ contention as to premeditation is without merit.

“Lewis also argues that he is not guilty of capital murder, but is guilty of second degree murder.  The difference between capital murder and second degree murder is deliberation.  Lewis contends the evidence at trial failed to show deliberation and that he did not intend to kill, needed money, had taken drugs, and was upset by the breakup between him and his girlfriend.  However, the evidence shows otherwise.  Lewis attacked the victim numerous times.  After each attack, he went outside to make sure that no one had heard the victim’s screams.  At one point the victim was unconscious for approximately 15 minutes, but instead of leaving, Lewis remained at the Halbert residence.  Lewis was calm and cool enough to know that Cecil Halbert would be coming home for lunch soon and that he needed to leave the house before noon.  He was also calm and cool enough to search for gas for his car, take the shotgun and flashlight and attach a note to the victim’s body to cast suspicion on a fictitious Chinaman.  These are the acts of a deliberating individual.  The evidence clearly and substantially supports the finding of deliberation. Lewis’ point is without merit.

“Judgment affirmed.”[3]

Yay team.

Me?  I hope Lola haunts you in your dreams, Theodore Lewis. 😥

1. FindAGrave.com memorial no. 71073293, “Lola Dewey Gregory Halbert,” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=71073293 , accessed Dec. 13, 2016.
2. Karen Cleland photo shared to (See Endnote No. 1 above).
3. Leagle.com (“a leading provider of United States Court opinions and decisions”): “STATE v. LEWIS,” No. 51749, 734 S.W.2d 847 (1987); STATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Theodore F. LEWIS, Jr., Appellant; Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, Division Four; June 9, 1987,” at http://www.leagle.com/decision/19871581734SW2d847_11514/STATE%20v.%20LEWIS , accessed Dec. 16, 2016.
4. Karen Cleland photo shared to (See Endnote No. 1 above).
5. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri; issue date Wednesday, June 10, 1987; page 5; at https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/142319088/ , accessed Dec. 13, 2016.

throwback thursday: walter falls next to early-1900s auto (do you know your cars? what make is this baby?)


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Walter FALLS By Automobile [1]

Walter FALLS (Dec. 4, 1893 Arkansas – Jan. 13, 1954; buried Jan. 15, 1954 at Restland Cemetery, Roxton, Lamar County, Texas)[2], youngest son of Solomon (Bud) FALLS (1859 – 1932) & Sarah Elizabeth (Elizabeth) JOHNSON (1857 – 1940).

Although I could be having my most-cars-look-alike [problem?  issue?] here, I’m thinking that the auto below may just be a better image of the same one above??  So I’m including it here to help you Name This Auto.  In this photo, Joseph H. (Joe) GRIFFIN is standing with his arm on the vehicle, with his wife and, Walter’s sister, Sarah Ruth (Sallie) (FALLS) GRIFFIN, between he & Walter:

Joe GRIFFIN, Sallie (FALLS) GRIFFIN & Walter FALLS [3]

Walter’s Apr. 26, 1942, Tillman County, Oklahoma, World War II Draft Registration card shows Walter as 5’7″, weighing approximately 160 pounds, of a light complexion, and having brown eyes, gray hair.  Walter lived at the time on North 6th Street in Frederick, Tillman County, and worked for the Simmons Gin Company.[4]

Paris News Jan. 15, 1954, pg 12
Walter Falls

“Last rites for Walter Falls of Fredrick, Okla., who died here Wednesday, were set for Friday at 2 p.m. at Gene Roden & Sons chapel, with burial at Roxton. Named Pallbearers were Newton Walker, Miller Steed, D. B. Doss, Jewell Churchwell, Ed Harty and Sel Pierce.

Walter FALLS [6]

“Mr. Falls, son of the late S. and Elizabeth (Johnson) Falls, was born in Cushman, Ark., Dec. 4 1893. A Lamar County resident a number of years, he was a Navy veeran of World War I, and was a Baptist. He had been a machinist with the Simmons Gin and Oil company at Fredrick for 28 years.

“His death occurred at St. Joseph’s Hospital here where he had been a patient since Sunday.

“He leaves two sisters, Mrs. Mattie Smith and Mrs. Sara Griffin both of Paris.”[5]

Walter died of “broncho-pneumonia, severe, right lung,” in only 10 days from the illness’ onset.[2]

He never married.[2]


1. “Walter Falls By An Automobile,” photograph, date unknown; ( http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3180/ : accessed July 24, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.

2. “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” “Walter Falls,” Ancestry.com, at http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2272&h=23379953&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=180018698027&usePUB=true , accessed July 27, 2016.

3. “Sallie and Joe Griffin with Walter Falls,” photograph, date unknown; ( texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3204/m1/1/?q=falls%2C%20walter : accessed July 27, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.

4. “U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” “Walter Falls,” Ancestry.com, at http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=1002&h=11928389&tid=79831532&pid=180018698027&hid=65124241975&usePUB=true&_phsrc=MRC8091&_phstart=default&usePUBJs=true , accessed July 27, 2016.

5. FindAGrave.com memorial no. 17725824, “Walter Falls,” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=17725824&ref=acom , accessed July 27, 2016.  Obituary added by “okla gravewalker.”

6. “Walter Falls, Seated,” photograph, date unknown; ( texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3183/ : accessed July 27, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.

sunday eulogy — jett falls: killed in action, ww i


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In Memoriam

“(To Jett Falls, our one-time pupil)

“Somewhere in France, where duty led,
“He fills a patriot grave.
“The lark sings high above his head,
“Only the lark knows the hallowed bed,
“Where lies our soldier brave.
“Sacred the ground where a soldier sleeps,
“Who came at his country’s call.
Onward the tide of battle sweeps,
Only the lark o’er his bosom weeps,
Yet he gave to the world his all.”
Author not named.[1]

“Jett FALLS Formal Portrait” [5]

Jett (Jetty; Johnny) FALLS (June 16, 1889 Cushman, Independence County, Arkansas, USA[2] – Nov. 5 or 6, 1918 France[3, 4]), son of Solomon FALLS Sarah Elizabeth (Elizabeth) JOHNSON.

Medium height & build, reads Jett’s WW I Draft Registration Card dated June 5, 1917; with blue eyes and black hair.[2]  Employer at the time, the “Honey Grove Cotton Oil Co.” — aka the Lamar [County] Cotton Oil Company, Paris, Texas, where Jett works as a day laborer at the [one word, can’t read]-mill.[2]

The official Washington, D. C., telegram sent Jett’s father Solomon Falls, dated 5:14 p.m., Nov. 5, 1918, gives Jett’s death date as Nov. 6th.[3]

The Telegram From Washington [3]

A 1919 letter of sympathy from M. M. Hoffman, Jr., the Chaplain of Jett’s Division, the 359th, informs Solomon FALLS that Jett was killed at the Meuse-Verdun Sector on Nov. 5th.[4]  (No information is given as to the specifics of Jett’s death.)  A handwritten note at the bottom of the letter adds, “He is buried in this sector with a number of his companions and has a cross at his grave.”

FALLS, Jett_Lttr fr military informing his parents he's dead_Portal To Texas History

The Letter From The Chaplain [4]

Then there is the death date on Jett’s grave marker at Restland Cemetery in Roxton, Lamar County, Texas, USA, where he was later re-buried:  it reads a confusing Nov. 2, 1918.[6]  I account for the differences between the first two as perhaps, time zones??  But I don’t know how to account for the Restland Cemetery grave marker date… (?)

Reads Jett’s hometown obituary:

“Information came to Mr. and Mrs. Bud Falls last night from the War Department that their son, Jett Falls, had been killed in action, having met his death on the field of battle November 6, five days before the end of the fighting.

“Jett Falls entered the service early in the summer of last year and went to Camp Travis. Mastering the soldier’s trade, he was assigned to duty as bayonet instructor and was thus engaged when the German threat at the French capital hastened the movement overseas of America’s youg army. He was a member of Company E, 359th Infantry, a regiment of the Ninetieth division, and went to France with that now famous unit.

“Those of us who knew and loved Jett Falls, with his quiet, unassuming manner and unfailing devotion to duty are filled with sorrow, and sympathy for his stricken parents and relatives.”[1]

Photos of Jett Falls in Europe during the actual war:

“Jett FALLS By A Tunnel” [7]

“Private Jett FALLS By Public Walkway” [8]

Jett may have been a Private at the time of the above photo, but a New York newspaper has him as a Corporal at the time of his death:

“The Globe And Commercial Advertiser, New York, Tuesday, December 17, 1918.”

6th name down:
“Falls, J., Roxton, Texas”[1]

While hoping the reader isn’t o.d.-ing on all this material, the following Roxton newspaper piece, from the time of Jett’s re-burial there, is such a heart-breaker 😥 that I simply couldn’t exclude it…

“On the same evening, just after the corpse of the fair child was laid in the silent city of the dead, a flag-draped casket from foreign shores, was brought to Roxton Cemetery and Jett Falls, son of Mr. & Mrs. Solomon Falls of Paris, was laid to rest in the soil from which he went to die on a far-flung battlefield at his country’s call.  We told of Jett’s life and death when the news that he had fallen in France reached us but we feel constrained to repeat that he had been a pupil of the writer in years agone and we loved him for his manliness, his obedience, his studiousness and we grieve with his heart-broken parents and brothers and sisters and all who loved him that his young life was the price of his sacrifice to America’s needs.  Rev. Long held a brief service at the cemetery here though the funeral was held at the home of his parents in Paris.  His mother ws prostrated under the renewed grief and was unable to attend his burial.  His brothers and one sister were here and a host of friends and neighbors of the family in Paris came out with the casket.  One sister, Mrs. Bill Smith, remained with her mother and Mrs. Joe Griffin accompanied her father to the last sad rites.  May God temper the winds to the shorn lambs of His fold and make this grief less poignant with Time, the healer of all life’s ills.”[1]

Jett FALLS’ Texas Grave Marker  —  Inscription:  “A precious one from us has gone.  A voice we loved is stilled.  A place is vacant in our home  Which never can be filled.  God in his wisdom has recalled the boon his love had given.  And though the body slumbers here, the soul is safe in heaven.”[6]

Rest in peace soldier. You’re not forgotten.

This Falls-surname line — part of my ancestry & collateral kin via my paternal great-grandmother Alta Maria FALLS, wife of Great-Grandpa Granville Smith GREGER — is often hypothesized by fellow researchers to have Scottish origins, but:  with my recent Ancestry.com DNA results of “64% Scandinavia, 15% Great Britain, 9% Ireland” (along with six other “Trace Region” amounts of from 1-to-5%), I say it’s Irish. 🙂  Just my two cents on the matter. 😉  [Jett’s blue eyes & black hair?  Irish, I declare. 😀 ]

1. “Newspaper Clippings Relating to Jett Falls Death,” clipping, date unknown; ( https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3177/ : accessed July 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.

2. “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” “Jett Falls,” Texas, Lamar County, Ancestry.com at http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=6482&h=16457679&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=180018248833&usePUB=true , accessed July 23, 2016.

3. “Western Union Telegram to Soloman Falls,” letter, date unknown;( https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3188/ : accessed July 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.

4. “Letter Informing Soloman Falls of Jett Fall’s Death,” letter, 1919;( https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3186/ : accessed July 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.

5. “Jett Falls Formal Portrait,” photograph, date unknown; ( https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3192/ : accessed July 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.

6. FindAGrave.com memorial no. 17725812, “Jett Falls,” at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=FAL&GSpartial=1&GSbyrel=all&GSst=46&GScntry=4&GSsr=1641&GRid=17725812& , accessed July 23, 2016.  Photo of grave marker used here, contributed to FindAGrave by Deanne (Hardy) McKinney.

7. “Jett Falls by a Tunnel,” photograph, date unknown; ( texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3189/ : accessed July 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.

8. “Private Jett Falls by Public Walkway,” photograph, date unknown; ( https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3191/m1/1/?q=FALLS : accessed July 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Euless Public Library.



happy birthday cancer sun sign! — alta maria (falls) greger


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Happy birthday cancer sun sign Alta Maria FALLS (July 10, 1864 Illinois-Oct. 13, 1934 McDonald County, Missouri; buried Anderson Cemetery, Anderson, McDonald County, Missouri).

Great-grandma Alta died before I was born.  I wish I had family stories with which to place her in my mind, but I never even knew her name ’til I began researching genealogy in the mid- to late-1990s.

Alta Maria (FALLS) GREGER [1]

Alta was the wife of my great-gramp Granville Smith GREGER (Jan. 20, 1864 Vandalia, Owen County, Indiana – Oct. 17, 1961 Kansas; Anderson Cemetery), who I did meet at about age three or four on a visit to his Missouri farm but I can’t pull up a picture.

Both Great-Grandma Alta & Great-Grampa Granville are pictured in the circa 1930 photograph below — the two older folks on either side of the picture — and it’s such a photo that I do think of Grandma Alta as “the old lady in the watermelon photo.” 😉

The Watermelon Photo [1]


1. Family photo in possession of blog author.

who do i think i am? not who i thought i was, that’s for sure! — enter dna test results


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Just got my Ancestry.com DNA test results back, and the word is, I possess a whopping sixty-four percent Scandanavian ethnicity. 😮

As my four immediate grands are composed of but one Norwegian immigrant grandmother; an immigrant grandfather from England; my Buckner line — Brits who came here in colonial times; and, a fourth grandparent’s line that I’d sum up as a potpourri, I ask:  How can it be that I’m 64% Scandanavian? (So much for my grasp of DNA, biology and even math. 😦 )

So let’s just get right to who, it appears, I really am?  My Norsk line[1] includes more royalty than I can shake a fly swatter at — or a Viking sword — so I’ll just close my eyes, reach into a hat, and pull out a name.

Halfdan The Black As Portrayed By Finnish Actor Jasper Pääkkönen In The History Channel’s “Vikings” Series, 1of2 [2]

Aha!  Alright:  let me introduce you to one of my 36th great-grandfathers[1], King Halfdan the Black of Westfold, GUDRODSSON (797 A.D. Norway – 860 A.D. Norway).

The son of King Gudrød the Hunter of Vestfold, & Asa, King Harald of Agder’s daughter, Halfdan “by reason of his black hair, was called Halfdan the
Black[3].”  (Thus I’m not clear why Halfdan appears as a blonde in the History Channel’s acclaimed “Vikings”[2] series… — ?)

Halfdan The Black As Portrayed By Finnish Actor Jasper Pääkkönen In The History Channel’s “Vikings” Series, 2of2 [2]

Snorri Sturlason’s centuries-old HeimskringlaThe Chronicles of the Kings of Norway begins with the “Halfdan the Black Saga:”


“Halfdan was a year old when his father was killed, and his mother Asa set off immediately with him westwards to Agder, and set herself there in the kingdom which her father Harald had possessed. Halfdan grew up there, and soon became stout and strong; and, by reason of his black hair, was called Halfdan the Black. When he was eighteen years old he took his kingdom in Agder, and went immediately to Vestfold, where he divided that kingdom, as before related [in Snorri Sturlason’s Preface to the book], with his brother Olaf. The same autumn he went with an army to Vingulmark against King Gandalf. They had many battles, and sometimes one, sometimes the other gained the victory; but at last they agreed that Halfdan should have half of Vingulmark, as his father Gudrod had had it before. Then King Halfdan proceeded to Raumarike, and subdued it. King Sigtryg, son of King Eystein, who then had his residence in Hedemark, and who had subdued Raumarike before, having heard of this, came out with his army against King Halfdan, and there was great battle, in which King Halfdan was victorious; and just as King Sigtryg and his troops were turning about to fly, an arrow struck him under the left arm, and he fell dead. Halfdan then laid the whole of Raumarike under his power. King Eystein’s second son, King Sigtryg’s brother, was also called Eystein, and was then king in Hedemark. As soon as Halfdan had returned to Vestfold, King Eystein went out with his army to Raumarike, and laid the whole country in subjection to him.”

Great-Grandpapa Halfdan the Black’s saga goes on for eight more parts, and, although my original intention was to keep this a short post and simply direct the reader to the rest, what the hey.  For the interested among you, I’ll just give Halfdan’s whole saga here; those less enthralled can simply skim or skip their way to the end. 😉


“When King Halfdan heard of these disturbances in Raumarike, he again gathered his army together; and went out against King Eystein. A battle took place between them, and Halfdan gained the victory, and Eystein fled up to Hedemark, pursued by Halfdan. Another battle took place, in which Halfdan was again victorious; and Eystein fled northwards, up into the Dales to the herse Gudbrand. There he was strengthened with new people, and in winter he went towards Hedemark, and met Halfdan the Black upon a large island which lies in the Mjosen lake. There a great battle was fought, and many people on both sides were slain, but Halfdan won the victory. There fell Guthorm, the son of the herse Gudbrand, who was one of the finest men in the Uplands. Then Eystein fled north up the valley, and sent his relation Halvard Skalk to King Halfdan to beg for peace. On consideration of their relationship, King Halfdan gave King Eystein half of Hedemark, which he and his relations had held before; but kept to himself Thoten, and the district called Land. He likewise appropriated to himself Hadeland, and thus became a mighty king.


“Halfdan the Black got a wife called Ragnhild, a daughter of Harald Gulskeg (Goldbeard), who was a king in Sogn. They had a son, to whom Harald gave his own name; and the boy was brought up in Sogn, by his mother’s father, King Harald. Now when this Harald had lived out his days nearly, and was become weak, having no son, he gave his dominions to his daughter’s son Harald, and gave him his title of king; and he died soon after. The same winter his daughter Ragnhild died; and the following spring the young Harald fell sick and died at ten years of age. As soon as Halfdan the Black heard of his son’s death, he took the road northwards to Sogn with a great force, and was well received. He claimed the heritage and dominion after his son; and no opposition being made, he took the whole kingdom. Earl Atle Mjove (the Slender), who was a friend of King Halfdan, came to him from Gaular; and the king set him over the Sogn district, to judge in the country according to the country’s laws, and collect scat upon the king’s account. Thereafter King Halfdan proceeded to his kingdom in the Uplands.


“In autumn, King Halfdan proceeded to Vingulmark. One night when he was there in guest quarters, it happened that about midnight a man came to him who had been on the watch on horseback, and told him a war force was come near to the house. The king instantly got up, ordered his men to arm themselves, and went out of the house and drew them up in battle order. At the same moment, Gandalf’s sons, Hysing and Helsing, made their appearance with a large army. There was a great battle; but Halfdan being overpowered by the numbers of people fled to the forest, leaving many of his men on this spot. His foster-father, Olver Spake (the Wise), fell here. The people now came in swarms to King Halfdan, and he advanced to seek Gandalf’s sons. They met at Eid, near Lake Oieren, and fought there. Hysing and Helsing fell, and their brother Hake saved himself by flight. King Halfdan then took possession of the whole of Vingulmark, and Hake fled to Alfheimar.


“Sigurd Hjort was the name of a king in Ringerike, who was stouter and stronger than any other man, and his equal could not be seen for a handsome appearance. His father was Helge Hvasse (the Sharp); and his mother was Aslaug, a daughter of Sigurd the worm-eyed, who again was a son of Ragnar Lodbrok. It is told of Sigurd that when he was only twelve years old he killed in single combat the berserk Hildebrand, and eleven others of his comrades; and many are the deeds of manhood told of him in a long saga about his feats. Sigurd had two children, one of whom was a daughter, called Ragnhild, then twenty years of age, and an excellent brisk girl. Her brother Guthorm was a youth. It is related in regard to Sigurd’s death that he had a custom of riding out quite alone in the uninhabited forest to hunt the wild beasts that are hurtful to man, and he was always very eager at this sport. One day he rode out into the forest as usual, and when he had ridden a long way he came out at a piece of cleared land near to Hadeland. There the berserk Hake came against him with thirty men, and they fought. Sigurd Hjort fell there, after killing twelve of Hake’s men; and Hake himself lost one hand, and had three other wounds. Then Hake and his men rode to Sigurd’s house, where they took his daughter Ragnhild and her brother Guthorm, and carried them, with much property and valuable articles, home to Hadeland, where Hake had many great farms. He ordered a feast to be prepared, intending to hold his wedding with Ragnhild; but the time passed on account of his wounds, which healed slowly; and the berserk Hake of Hadeland had to keep his bed, on account of his wounds, all the autumn and beginning of winter. Now King Halfdan was in Hedemark at the Yule entertainments when he heard this news; and one morning early, when the king was dressed, he called to him Harek Gand, and told him to go over to Hadeland, and bring him Ragnhild, Sigurd Hjort’s daughter. Harek got ready with a hundred men, and made his journey so that they came over the lake to Hake’s house in the grey of the morning, and beset all the doors and stairs of the places where the house-servants slept. Then they broke into the sleeping-room where Hake slept, took Ragnhild, with her brother Guthorm, and all the goods that were there, and set fire to the house-servants’ place, and burnt all the people in it. Then they covered over a magnificent waggon, placed Ragnhild and Guthorm in it, and drove down upon the ice. Hake got up and went after them a while; but when he came to the ice on the lake, he turned his sword-hilt to the ground and let himself fall upon the point, so that the sword went through him. He was buried under a mound on the banks of the lake. When King Halfdan, who was very quick of sight, saw the party returning over the frozen lake, and with a covered waggon, he knew that their errand was accomplished according to his desire. Thereupon he ordered the tables to be set out, and sent people all round in the neighbourhood to invite plenty of guests; and the same day there was a good feast which was also Halfdan’s marriage-feast with Ragnhild, who became a great queen. Ragnhild’s mother was Thorny, a daughter of Klakharald king in Jutland, and a sister of Thrye Dannebod who was married to the Danish king, Gorm the Old, who then ruled over the Danish dominions.


“Ragnhild, who was wise and intelligent, dreamt great dreams. She dreamt, for one, that she was standing out in her herb-garden, and she took a thorn out of her shift; but while she was holding the thorn in her hand it grew so that it became a great tree, one end of which struck itself down into the earth, and it became firmly rooted; and the other end of the tree raised itself so high in the air that she could scarcely see over it, and it became also wonderfully thick. The under part of the tree was red with blood, but the stem upwards was beautifully green and the branches white as snow. There were many and great limbs to the tree, some high up, others low down; and so vast were the tree’s branches that they seemed to her to cover all Norway, and even much more.


“King Halfdan never had dreams, which appeared to him an extraordinary circumstance; and he told it to a man called Thorleif Spake (the Wise), and asked him what his advice was about it. Thorleif said that what he himself did, when he wanted to have any revelation by dream, was to take his sleep in a swine-sty, and then it never failed that he had dreams. The king did so, and the following dream was revealed to him. He thought he had the most beautiful hair, which was all in ringlets; some so long as to fall upon the ground, some reaching to the middle of his legs, some to his knees, some to his loins or the middle of his sides, some to his neck, and some were only as knots springing from his head. These ringlets were of various colours; but one ringlet surpassed all the others in beauty, lustre, and size. This dream he told to Thorleif, who interpreted it thus:—There should be a great posterity from him, and his descendants should rule over countries with great, but not all with equally great, honour; but one of his race should be more celebrated than all the others. It was the opinion of people that this ringlet betokened King Olaf the Saint.

“King Halfdan was a wise man, a man of truth and uprightness—who made laws, observed them himself, and obliged others to observe them. And that violence should not come in place of the laws, he himself fixed the number of criminal acts in law, and the compensations, mulcts, or penalties, for each case, according to every one’s birth and dignity.

“Queen Ragnhild gave birth to a son, and water was poured over him, and the name of Harald given him, and he soon grew stout and remarkably handsome. As he grew up he became very expert at all feats, and showed also a good understanding. He was much beloved by his mother, but less so by his father.


“King Halfdan was at a Yule-feast in Hadeland, where a wonderful thing happened one Yule evening. When the great number of guests assembled were going to sit down to table, all the meat and all the ale disappeared from the table. The king sat alone very confused in mind; all the others set off, each to his home, in consternation. That the king might come to some certainty about what had occasioned this event, he ordered a Fin to be seized who was particularly knowing, and tried to force him to disclose the truth; but however much he tortured the man, he got nothing out of him. The Fin sought help particularly from Harald, the king’s son, and Harald begged for mercy for him, but in vain. Then Harald let him escape against the king’s will, and accompanied the man himself. On their journey they came to a place where the man’s chief had a great feast, and it appears they were well received there. When they had been there until spring, the chief said, ‘Thy father took it much amiss that in winter I took some provisions from him,—now I will repay it to thee by a joyful piece of news: thy father is dead; and now thou shalt return home, and take possession of the whole kingdom which he had, and with it thou shalt lay the whole kingdom of Norway under thee.’


“Halfdan the Black was driving from a feast in Hadeland, and it so happened that his road lay over the lake called Rand. It was in spring, and there was a great thaw. They drove across the bight called Rykinsvik, where in winter there had been a pond broken in the ice for cattle to drink at, and where the dung had fallen upon the ice the thaw had eaten it into holes. Now as the king drove over it the ice broke, and King Halfdan and many with him perished. He was then forty years old. He had been one of the most fortunate kings in respect of good seasons. The people thought so much of him, that when his death was known and his body was floated to Ringerike to bury it there, the people of most consequence from Raumarike, Vestfold, and Hedemark came to meet it. All desired to take the body with them to bury it in their own district, and they thought that those who got it would have good crops to expect. At last it was agreed to divide the body into four parts. The head was laid in a mound at Stein in Ringerike, and each of the others took his part home and laid it in a mound; and these have since been called Halfdan’s Mounds.”[3]

Halfdan the Black Burial Mound at the Stein in Hole farm in Ringerike, Norway — Ole M. Hakvaag photo[4]

Rest in peace great-grandpapa.

1. “Ahnentafel of Sally Marie Eilertsen Fjelse,” prepared by Flekkefjord, Norway, genealogist & historian Signe Elisabeth Zijdemans, Åsnes 4400 Flekkefjord <nyne@online.no>; printed on 30 Nov 2010. In possession of blog author.

2. History.com, “Vikings,” “Season 4,” at http://www.history.com/shows/vikings/cast/halfdan-the-black , accessed July 19, 2016.

3Heimskringla, or, The Chronicle Of The Kings Of Norway, by Snorri Sturlason (circa 1179-1241), poet & historian; originally written in Old Norse approximately 1225 A.D.  Online in full at Project Gutenberg, at, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/598/598-h/598-h.htm , accessed July 19, 2016.

4. “Archeology,” “A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America,” “Sinking Viking Ship?,” by Tom Bjornstad; Volume 51 Number 1, January/February 1998, at http://archive.archaeology.org/9801/newsbriefs/viking.html , accessed July 19, 2016.