Sunday, June 18, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Three Stories for Father's Day

Randy Seaver from Genea-Musing has again asked us to write about our father or grandfather for Father’s Day:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  Sunday, 18 June, is Father's Day.  Let's celebrate by writing a blog post about our father, or another significant male ancestor (e.g., a grandfather).

2)  What are three things about your father (or significant male ancestor) that you vividly remember about him?

3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google+ Stream post.

Last year I wrote about my father, William J. Hork here. This year I’ve decided to write about my maternal grandfather, Tom J. Johnston.

My grandfather liked his automobiles and both my grandfather and grandmother liked having their photos taken with their cars. We have lots of photos taken with them posing in front of an automobile.

There were always dogs in my grandparent’s home. My grandfather enjoyed having small dogs that would jump up into his lap. With one dog, Pierre, he taught to do tricks like dance on his hind legs and “sing” where it sounded like he was saying “I love Mama.” Their dogs were very spoiled and would get to lick the ice cream dishes each evening.

With Goober
My grandparents with Thunder


My grandfather was a carpenter and loved making furniture. My grandparent’s home was full of items he had made in his woodshop. Picture frames, tables, cabinets, and lamps were among some of the furniture he made. My mother had a magazine rack and a bench which housed an ironing board. 

Here is the magazine rack

He made the lamp, side table and coffee table

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Tribute to Your Mother

Randy Seaver of Genea-musing has a new challenge for us this week. For this week's mission we were challenged to:
1)  This is Mother's Day weekend, and I have been thinking about my mother - the family times, the hard times, the wonderful times.
2)  For SNGF this week, write a tribute to your mother.  It can be any length.  What do you remember about her, and what did you learn from her?
3)  Share your tribute or memories in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook or other social media.  Please leave a comment on this post if you post something elsewhere.
My mother was an only child but dreamed of having a big family. She did. I am the oldest of six children born in the 50s and 60s. She was fun-loving and doted on her children. But I think a big family was a bit overwhelming to her as well. It was a lot to handle, even though she was a stay-at-home homemaker.

Lela Nell Johnston was born 21 August 1934 in Stephenville, Texas to Pansy Louise Lancaster and Tom J. Johnston, Jr. Perhaps her mother doted on her. Photos of Lela, as a child, showed her in pretty dresses and fancy hair-does. There are shots of them in matching dresses.

Teenage Love
My mother was popular in her first two years of high school at Acalanes High School. She held the office of Social Secretary as a Freshman . She also had lots of dates and kept track of them with a chart.

She met my father, William J. Hork, at the Walnut Festival where she was attending with other friends. They double-dated with one of Bill’s friends and went steady afterwards. They had a very traditional wedding at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church which was written up in the newspaper.

Growing up, I remember Mom as a great cook, who was able to stretch the food dollars. She read all the women’s magazines such as McCall’s, Women’s Day, Family Circle, and Cosmopolitan.  She got lots of recipes from them, as well as the newspaper. She made shopping lists from looking at the LoRay’s grocery store ads. When I was older, we shopped together, each with a shopping cart and list.

She also saved money by sewing clothes for me and  my three sisters. She even made matching clothes for us, including shirts for my brothers. The best outfit she made for me was a matching skirt and jacket which was the rage when I was in 8th grade.
The suit made by my mother
I remember when I was young that my mother would paint using oils. At our house in Pittsburg, there was a smaller house in the backyard where she had a little studio. But by the sixth child was born, I guess she didn’t have time for painting. She was artistic in other ways. She made many items out of used things such as bowls from 78 rpm records she baked over coffee cans and then spray painted  gold, or taking old metal platters and decopaging pictures cut from old calendars or magazines. One of her favorite activities was going “junking” at second-hand stores. Finding treasures she could re-use was a highlight. All of her children seemed to inherit the love of “junking” and having a bit of the creativity bug.

Although we didn’t go out much as a family, we did play games. We played card games, dice games, and board games. She taught us a game much like the game Scattergories. We just made our own grids and used a magazine to get letters for the game. We played gin rummy, double solitaire, liars dice, and Scrabble.

Advice Giving
When I married, I called often for advice. I valued her wisdom about how to deal with household chores because I hadn’t paid as much attention to those things before. But she died young and couldn’t be a resource on how to raise my children, nor did my children get a chance to know their grandmother.

Hork Family 1978
It’s been sad having my mother gone, but the artistic trait lives on in my daughters: one is a fine artist and the other a fine actor.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday – WWII Draft Card for “Tom Junior Johnston”

Not all records can be found online and this draft card for my grandfather, Tom J Johnston, is no exception. Tom was born in 1912 and was part of the group of men born between 1897 and 1927 who registered for the draft.[1] There were men born before 1897 who also registered for the draft and their cards can be found online at and These cards are often referred to as the “Old Man’s Draft.”

So how did I get this card? I ordered the records from the National Archives in St. Louis. Information about how to order is here. There is a special form you fill out for the registrant you’re seeking and when the archives personnel find the record, you’ll receive a letter with an invoice to order the copies. The Registration Card is $7.00 and the Classification Record (including the Registration Card) is $27.[2]

Draft Card[3]
The date of the registration was October 16, 1940 at Stephenville, Texas. Most of the information on the card was typed except for Tom’s signature on the front and the registrar’s check marks and signature on the back. The information on the card was what I expected, except the Jr. that is usually at the end of his name was written out as “Junior” for his middle name. Tom’s father’s name was Thomas Newton Johnston. My grandfather has always written his name as Tom J Johnston, Jr.

At the time of the registration, he was living in Stephenville, Erath County, Texas and his address was Box 627. A telephone number was listed as 192. He was 28 years old and stated his birthdate as Oct. 7, 1912. This was the date we always celebrated his birthday. He said he was born in Gustine, Texas (which is in Comanche County). The person who would know his address was his wife, Mrs. Pansy Louise Johnston, who lived at the same address. At this time, he was working for himself, doing woodworking. He signed the card “Tom Johnston Jr.”

The description on the back of the card had check marks for white, brown eyes, blonde hair, and light complexion. He was 5 ft. 10 inches tall and weighed 182 pounds.

Registration Certificate from Tom Johnston's Wallet
Registration Certificate[4]
I have the contents of my grandfather’s wallet from when he died. One of the documents was a very worn card entitled “Registration Certificate.” This card was to certify that he had registered with the Selective Service and was to carry the card with him at all times. The information is the same as the card above and was likely filled out at the same time.

Classification Record[5]
This classification record came to me in several sections. This gives a history of the draft registration process for Tom. His serial number was 1738. The following dates were recorded:
  • date of volunteering for induction: 3-8-44,
  • date questionnaire mailed: 5-26-41,
  • date questionnaire returned: 5-28-41
  • classification III: A
  • date appeared for physical:
  • date classified: 5-24-41, 1-6-44, 1-23-44
  • date of order for induction: 3-9-44
  • time fixed for transp to induction sta: 3-24-44, 1:30 pm
  • final disposition at induction sta & date: acc, 3-25-44
  • remarks: medical survey: 7-11-44

The inserted page was the listings of classification with dates in the following columns:
  • Classification: IIIA, 1-A, 1-C, 1-C
  • col 32: 7-7-42
  • col 33: 7-11-42

U.S. Navy

Tom was inducted in the United States Navy and did leave for duty on 25 March 1944. He served the entire three and half months in Farragut, Idaho, where he received a medical discharge.[6] This discharge card was also in his wallet.

Discharge Card from Tom's wallet

[1] “Selective Service Records,” National Archives at St. Louis, : accessed 16 April 2017)
[2] ibid
[3] World War II Draft Registration Records, Selective Service Records, National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri, Ser. No. 1738, order no. 1870, Tom Junior Johnston, Erath Co, Texas.
[4] Selective Service Registration Card, 16 October 1940, privately held by Lisa Gorrell, [address for private use], Martinez, CA 94553. Draft Card. Passed on to me by Pansy Johnston, wife of Tom J Johnston
[5] World War II Draft Registration Records, Selective Service Records, National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri, Classification Record, Erath Co TX, p. 59, order no. 1870, Tom Junior Johnston.
[6] "Certificate of Discharge,'" Tom Johnston Jr., U.S. Navy, National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Missouri.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Lunch With a Fearless Female

Randy Seaver of Genea-musing has an assignment for us this week:

1) This is March, the month for Fearless Females posts, started by Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog - see her Fearless Females blogging prompts for 2017 at

2) Answer this question for March 16 (I've changed it a bit): If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead), or any famous female, who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you talk about?

3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

I participated in this blogging meme back in 2012 and wrote specifically about my great-great grandmother, Martha J. Coor.  Click here to see the post. I still wish I could ask her the question.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday – Deed: Mary Lancaster to Lancaster Heirs

I’ve been in Salt Lake City this week conducting some research at the Family History Library where I have been viewing microfilmed images of deed records for Shelby County, Kentucky, where my five times great-grandfather, Robert Lancaster died.

I had previously concentrated on the estate records for Robert and wondered why there weren’t any records mentioning his wife, Mary. I have no vital information about this wife at all, so had no idea if she was still alive.

However, I found in the deed records a deed recorded on 26 October 1840 between 
“Mary Lancaster widow of R. Lancaster of Shelby County Kentucky of the one part and Ellis Lancaster, John Lancaster, Creath Neill & Lenis Ann his wife, Robert N Myers & Mary E his wife, William Lancaster, Josiah Lancaster & Eliza Jane Lancaster of the other part.”[1]
The people listed as the “second part” were Robert’s children: Ellis, John, Lenis Ann, Mary E, William, Josiah, and Eliza Jane.

It went on to state that 
“Robert Lancaster departed this life intestate (meaning without a will) leaving considerable real and personal estate to one third of which the said Mary as his widow is entitled during her natural life.”
Mary was not the mother of the above children. She was Robert’s third wife, though I have not found the marriage record yet.

So the parties of the second part have 
“agreed to pay the said Mary Lancaster $2800 in cash and give her a negro girl named Teresa about fifteen or sixteen years old & also to give to said Mary the household furniture which the said Mary owned at the time of her intermarriage with the said Robert.”
 This Teresa was not listed in the slave inventory of the estate.[2]

First part of the deed Mary Lancaster to Lancaster Heirs
Shelby Co KY Deeds, Bk G2, p. 231
Mary Lancaster  then relinquished and quit claimed her interest and claim to the estate of Robert Lancaster. The deed went on to describe the estate as a tract of land in Shelby County on Bullskin containing three hundred and thirty one acres and on which Robert resided at the time of his death, eleven slaves, his stock of cattle, hogs and sheep, housing and kitchen furniture, farming utensils, bonds, notes, cash, all and every other species of real personal or mixed.

She signed the deed with a mark, indicating that either she could not write or was too infirmed to write.

So this deed indicated that Mary Lancaster was living at the time of Robert’s death. It explained why I never saw anything about the widow in Robert Lancaster’s estate records and why she hadn’t become the administratrix of the estate. Was this buyout an indication of how Robert’s children thought of Robert’s current wife? Or had the wife asked for the buyout? Unfortunately the deed didn’t answer that question.

[1] Shelby County, Kentucky Deeds, Bk G2, p. 231-32, Lancaster to Lancaster heirs; FHL film 259241.
[2] Shelby County, Kentucky Probate, Bk 14, p 64, Inventory of Robert Lancaster’s Estate; digital images, FamilySearch ( : 22 Sep 2016); citing FHL film 259254, item 3.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Friday, January 27, 2017

On This Day – The Birth of Nathaniel H. Osborne Polly, January 27, 1820

My maternal fourth great-grandfather, Nathaniel H. Osborne Polly is one of my brick walls. I have written a little about him before when I wrote about his wife, Lydia in this post. I know a little about his life but not who his parents were.

His tombstone photo shows a birth date of January 27, 1820.[1] According to the Find-a-Grave memorial for him, he was a “medical doctor, a Judge, a farmer and a gospel minister.”  That’s a lot of occupations. Let’s look at what I know from records I have found.

In 1850, he was listed as a “C. Bap. Minister” living in Dallas County, Texas.[2] The “C” might stand for Christian. The Bap. is probably for “Baptist” and the minister is clear. From most of the records I have found on him, he was a minister.

In 1860, he and his family were living in Montague County, Texas. The occupation on the census was listed as “M.D.”[3] I can see where the creator of the Find of Grave memorial might think that he was a medical doctor. This M.D. could also mean master of divinity. 

1860 U.S. census, Montague County, Texas for H.O. Polly
In 1870, he and his family were living in Kaufman County, Texas. Here his occupation was listed in the census as Minister Gospel.[4] Clearly he was still a minister.

In 1880, the sixty-one-year-old Nathan Polly was listed as a farmer.[5]

The next available census was 1900 and he was listed as a minister and he reported he had zero months not employed which would indicate that he was still working as a minister.[6]

He passed away 2 November 1902 and was buried in Rockwall County, Texas at the Rockwall Memorial Park.[7]  A search of the death indexes on FamilySearch resulted in zero returns.

From these census records, it is clear that he listed his occupation as a minister. He was definitely also a farmer, at least in a minor way. More research is needed to determine if he was ever a judge or a doctor.

Future research needed
  • Check out this website: for mentions of NHO Polly. There are bios, obituaries, and a photo of him.
  • Look for land records in Montague, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties.
  • Look for records that might name Nathaniel Polly as a judge or justice of the peace in Montague, Dallas, Rockwall, or Kaufman counties.
  • Check out trees on and the FamilySearch Family Tree for possible ties to Nathaniel’s parents.

[1] Find A Grave, database with images ( : 9 Sep 2011), Memorial# 30074063, Rockwall Memorial Park, Rockwall TX, Dr. Nathaniel H. Osborne Polly.
[2] 1850 U.S. census, Dallas Co, Texas, pop. sched., p. 93 (stamped), dwelling 305, family 314, Nathan H. O. Polly, digital images, ( : accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA M432, roll 910.
[3] 1860 U.S. census, Montague Co, Texas, pop. sched., p. 76b (stamped), dwelling 721, family 743, H. O. Polley, digital image, ( accessed 21 Dec 2010); citing NARA M653, roll 1301.
[4] 1870 U.S. census, Kaufman Co, Texas, pop. sched., p. 31, dwelling 372, family 386, N.H.O. Polly, digital image, ( : accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA M593, roll 1594.
[5] 1880 U.S. census, Rockwall Co, Texas, pop. sched., District 30, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 600 (stamped), dwelling 183, family 184, Nathan Polly, digital image, ( : accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA T9, roll 1324.
[6] 1900 U.S. census, Dallas Co, Texas, pop. sched., ED 143, sheet sht 2a, p. 179 (stamped), dwelling 32, family 32, N.H.O. Polly, digital image, ( accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA T623, roll 1626.
[7] Find A Grave, database with images ( : 9 Sep 2011), Memorial# 30074063, Rockwall Memorial Park, Rockwall TX, Dr. Nathaniel H. Osborne Polly.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Thursday, January 19, 2017

On This Day - Birth of George Warren Lancaster - January 19, 1893

One hundred and twenty-three years ago, my maternal great-grandfather, George Warren Lancaster was born, 19 January 1893.[1] His parents were William Carlton Lancaster and Martha Jane Coor. George was the eldest of six children.

His delayed birth certificate, dated  6 July 1942 and signed by his father, William C Lancaster, stated he was born in Victor, Erath County, Texas. According to The Handbook of Texas, Victor was settled shortly after the Civil War and was located in western Erath County on Farm Road 2156 a mile south of Desdemona. During the 1890s there were general stores and a post office that was later discontinued in 1907.[2]

Here is a satellite map of the area today. All that is left is the Victor Cemetery which is located at the corner of roads 2156 and 357. As you can see, it is clearly farming country and George’s father, William was a farmer.

Victor was in the area of Roads 2156 & 357.

According to his World War I Draft card, he stated he was tall of medium build and had dark brown hair and eyes.[3] In fact, he still had dark brown hair when he died at the age of 71.[4]

He worked as a farmer in the early part of his life and later worked as an auto mechanic. My grandmother stated, “he was good with cars and would work on them on Sundays after church when big groups of people would come with food and their cars to be worked on.  He later worked with Ford Motor Co in Stephenville.”[5] His obituary stated he had been the shop foreman for the old Reid Sales Company.[6]

[1] Erath County, Texas, Births, Volume 11, p 250, delayed birth record for George Warren Lancaster, 1893; FHL film 1428139.
[2] “Victor, Texas,” The Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association,
[3] "WW I Draft Registration," database and images, ( : accessed 28 Jul 2008), George Warren Lancaster.
[4] Letter from Pearl Weatherly to Pansy L. Johnston, 15 Nov 1964, describing how he looked at the viewing.
[5] Interview of Pansy L. Johnston, daughter of George Warren Lancaster, by Lisa S. Gorrell, 3 June 1995.
[6] “Warren Lancaster,” obituary, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, 13 Nov 1964, p 4.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family