52 Ancestors: Juliana Rinnert (1855-1933)


Amy Johnson Crow used a weekly blog theme of “52 Ancestors” in her blog post Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Although Amy decided to stop posting on this challenge, Randy Seaver has continued posting his ancestors on Geneamusings.com. I’ve decided to start posting my ancestors on a weekly basis. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to clean my data and sources.

Juliana Rinnert (1855-1933) is #9 on my Ahnentafel list. She is my paternal great-grandmother. She married William Dittman (1844-1918) in 1876.

Julianna Rinnert (1855-1933)
Julianna Rinnert (1855-1933)

Julianna’s parents were German immigrants, Adam Rinnert (1820-1893) and Catherine Lappe (1829-1907).  Adam was a shoemaker who settled in New York, then moved to Canada, Connecticut, Michigan, finally Colorado. In Colorado, he purchased more than 1500 acres of land and raised cattle. Julianna inherited some of this land in Colorado and on this land, with her husband, raised seven children, five that survived to adulthood. When her son Willie died she took in one of the workers on the ranch, William Enoch, he was very ill and he convalesced on the ranch. When her daughter, Cora passed away as a teenager, Julia was so lonesome for her that she adopted a friend of the family’s daughter, Elsie [7].

Juliana went by Julia, Juliana and Etta. After she and her husband were married, they traveled to Cape Horn and across the Isthmus of Panama. She got out of the boat so that she could cross it on foot. She cooked extensively for her family,  making sauerkraut, bread, smoked and dried meats and ice cream. My grandfather told many stories about his Mama, as he called her, but my favorite was when he would talk about the boys Ray, Roy and Earl having a bear cub their father found and they kept as a pet. As a young cub, the bear slept in the house but as he got older, and bigger, she would chase it out of the house in the morning with her broom.

Her husband died in 1918 and she and several neighbors were involved in a suit for water rights on their land. In May of 1920, she was forced to sell the land she inherited from her father and move to a very small home with her youngest son, Earl. They sold all of their possessions in an auction.

Ditman Ranch Auction - 21 May 1920
Ditman Ranch Auction – 21 May 1920 Plateau Voice


  • #4 Earl Grant Ditman (1899-1983), who married #5 Edith Helen Clark (1905-1986) in 1927.
  • #2 William Clark Ditman (1933-1997), who married #3 Beverly Joy Miller in 1956.
  • #1  Kimberly Joy Ditman (1958-   ), who married James Black in 1975.

Facts and Events

  • Name: Juliana Rinnert [1]
  • Sex: Female
  • Father: Adam Rinnert (1820-1893)
  • Mother: Catherine Lappe (1829-1907)
  • Birth: 24 Oct 1855, Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, USA [1]
  • Marriage: 23 Oct 1876, Grand Junction, Arapahoe, Colorado, USA [3]
  • Death: 18 Dec 1933 (age 78) of lobar pneumonia, Douglas, Polk, Oregon, USA [10]
  • Burial: 21 Dec 1933, Douglas County, Oregon, USA [10, 11]
  • 1861 Canada Census: Julia Rinert, single; 14 Jan 1861 (age 6), Pelham, Welland, Canda West [1]
  • 1870 US Census: Julia Rennert, single; 14 Jul 1870 (age 14), Hume, Huron, Michigan, USA [2]
  • 1880 US Census: Julia Ditman, married; 14-16 Jun 1880 (age 23), Elbert County, Colorado, USA [4]
  • 1885 Colorado Census: Julia Ditman, married;1 Jun 1885 (age 28), Mesa, Colorado, USA [5]
  • 1900 US Census: Julia Ditman, married; 20 Jun 1900 (age 44), Mesa, Mesa Precinct No 5, Colorado, USA [6]
  • 1910 US Census: Julia Ditman, married; 23-26 Apr 1910 (age 54), Mesa, Precent 5, Mesa, Colorado, USA [7]
  • 1920 US Census: Etta Ditman, widowed; 9-10 Jan 1920 (age 63), DeBeque, Mesa, Colorado, USA [8]
  • 1930 US Census: Julia Dittman, widowed;5 Apr 1930 (age 74), Newburg, Douglas, Oregon, USA [9]


  1. William Dittman (1844-1918)
    • Marriage 23 Oct 1876, Grand Junction, Arapahoe, Colorado, USA [3]


  1. Gertrude Ditman (1877-1944)
  2. Edgar Park Ditman (1878-1969)
  3. William Ditman (1882-1895)
  4. Cora Dittman (1887-1906)
  5. Raymond Lowel Dittman (1890-1975)
  6. Leroy Lewis Dittman (1890-1973)
  7. Earl Grant Ditman (1899-1983)


[1] 1861 Census of Canada (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Appreciation is expressed to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for providing the 1861 Canada Census Index..Original data – Census returns for 1861. Microfilm C-999 to C)

In the 1861 Census of Canada, the Adam Rinert family resided in Pelham, Welland, Canda West. The household included:

  • Adam Rinert, 41, Shoe Maker, born Germany, Hessen, Calvanist CofS
  • Catherine Rinert, 40, born Germany, Hessen, Calvanist CofS
  • John Rinert, 15, born U States, Calvanist CofS
  • Catherine Rinnert, 13, born U States, Calvanist CofS
  • Adam Rinert, 10, born U States, Calvanist CofS
  • Cristine Rinnert, 13, born U States, Calvanist CofS
  • Julia Rinnert, 6, born U States, Calvanist CofS
  • Louisa Rinnert, 3, born U.C., Calvanist CofS

[2] 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.;citing NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.

In the 1870 United States Federal Census, the Adam Rennert family resided in Hume, Huron, Michigan. The household included:

  • Adam Rennert, 50, Shoemaker, born in Hesse-Cassel. His real estate value was $1,000 and his personal value was $300.
  • Catherine Rennert, 48, Keeping house, born in Hesse-Cassel.
  • John Rennert, 24, Farmer, born in New York, USA
  • Adam Rennert, 20, Farmer, born in New York, USA
  • Christina, 16, At Home, born in Canada
  • Julia, 14, At Home, born in Canada
  • Louisa, 12, At Home, born in Canada

[3] Colorado Statewide Marriage Index, 1853-2006,  database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KNQS-Q77 : accessed 16 January 2016), William Ditman and Mary Rinnert, 23 Oct 1876, Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States; citing no. B 65 P 192, State Archives, Denver; FHL microfilm 1,690,070.

The transcription of the marriage certificate for William Ditman and Juliana Rinnert reads:

State of Colorado
Division of Vital Statistics

No B 65
P 192

County Denver
Husband’s Name: DITMAN, WILLIAM Age – Race W
Wife’s Name: RINNERT, MARY Age – Race W
Place of Marriage DENVER COLOR Date 10/23/1876
Name of Official who Performed Ceremony J.M. STURTEVANT JR.

Reported by [blank]
Address [blank]

Note the bride’s name as Mary Rinnert, not Juliana. This is the correct date, husband’s name.

[4] 1880 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Elbert, Colorado:  Page 10, dwelling #103, family #112, William Ditman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com); citing (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

In the 1880 United States Federal Census, the William Ditman family resided in Elbert, Colorado. The household included:

  • William Ditman, 30, Sawyer, born in Canada
  • Julia, 23, Keeping house, born in Conn.
  • Gertrude, 2, born in Calafornia [sp?]
  • Edward P, 1, born in Colorado

Note: Her parents, Adam and Catherine Rinnert, were living in the next household.

[5] 1885 Colorado Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Colorado:  Pages 9-10, dwelling #113, family #127, Wm Ditman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com); citing National Archives and Records Administration. Schedules of the Colorado State Census, 1885. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M158, 8 rolls.

In the 1885 Colorado Census, the Wm Ditman family resided in Mesa, Colorado. The household included:

  • Wm Ditman, 36, farmer, born in Germany.
  • Julia, 28, Housewife, born in Conn.
  • G., 8, born in Cal.
  • Edw., 6, born in Colo.
  • Wm., 5, born in Colo. ( Next page, nearly missed)

[6] 1900 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Colorado:  Roll 126, Page 18B, dwelling #365, family #368, William Ditman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com); citing National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

In the 1900 United States Federal Census, the William Ditman family resided in Mesa, Mesa, Colorado. The household included:

  • William Ditman, Apr 1849, 51, married 23 years, born in Michigan, farmer.
  • Julia Ditman, Oct 1855, 44, married 23 years, born in Connecticut
  • Gertrude Ditman, Aug 1877, 22, born in California
  • Edgar P. Ditman, Nov 1879, 21, born in Colorado
  • Cora Ditman, July 1887, 13, born in Colorado
  • Roy Ditman, Aug 1890, 9, born in Colorado
  • Ray Ditman, Aug 1890, 9, born in Colorado
  • Earl Ditman, Oct 1899, 7/12, born in Colorado

[7] 1910 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Colorado: Roll: T625_168, Page 4A, dwelling #365, family #368, William Ditman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com); citing National Archives and Records Administration, 1910. Rolls T624, 1,178.

In the 1910 United States Federal Census, the William Ditman household resided in Mesa, Mesa, Colorado. The household included:

  • William Ditman, 62, married 34 years, born in Pennsylvania, farmer.
  • Julia Ditman, 54, married 34 years, 8 children, 6 living, born in Connecticut
  • Roy Ditman, 18, son, born in Colorado
  • Ray Ditman, 18, son, born in Colorado
  • Earl Ditman, 10, son, born in Colorado
  • Elsie Ditman, 11, adopted daughter, born in Colorado

[8] 1920 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Colorado: Roll: T625_168; Page: 3B, dwelling #77, family #82, Etta Dittman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com); citing National Archives and Records Administration, 1920. Rolls T625, 2076.

In the 1920 United States Federal Census, the Etta Dittman household included:

  • Etta Dittman, 63, widowed, born in Connecticut
  • Earl G Dittman, 18, single, born in Colorado

Note: This census is interesting, given that my grandfather Earl Ditman’s first wife, Mildred DeRush is living just a few houses up. They married in December, 1920. The census was taken in January, 1920.

[9] 1930 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Colorado: Roll: 1943; Page: 5A, house #432, dwelling #111, family #118, Julia Dittman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com); citing National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

In the 1930 United States Federal Census, the Julia Dittman household was residing in Douglas, Roseburg, Oregon. The household included:

  • Julia Dittman, 74, widowed, born in Connecticut
  • Roy Dittman, 39, divorced, born in Colorado

[10] Douglas, Polk, Oregon, Death Certificate, Julia Rennert Ditman, 18 Dec 1933; County Clerk’s Office, Polk, Oregon, USA (certificate dated 11 May 1977). Polk, Oregon, USA.  

The transcription of the death certificate is:
Oregon State Board of Health
Certificate of Death
1. PLACE OF DEATH, State Registered No 269
County: Douglas, State: Oregon, Local Registered No 29
Township [blank], or Village [blank]
City Roseburg. No 704, Cobb Street, St. [blank] Ward
Length of residence in city or town where death occurred 6 yrs[blank] months [blank] days. How long in U.S., if of foreign birth? [blank]
2. FULL NAME: Julia Rennert Ditman
(a) Residence: No. 704 Cobb St
3. Sex Female
5. Single, Married Widowed or Divorced: Widowed
5a. Married, Widowed or Divorced HUSBAND or WIFE of William Ditman
6. DATE OF BIRTH: Oct. 24, 1855
7. Age: 78 Years 1 Months  24 Days
8. Trade: Housework
9. Industry Own home
10. Date last worked: Sep 1933 11. Total in years spent in this occupation: 40
12. BIRTHPLACE (city or town) Hartford, Conn.
13. Father Name: Adam Rennert
14. Father Birthplace: No record
15. Mother Maiden Name: Katherine (?)
16. Mother Birthplace: No record
17. Informant: Mrs Grant Bales, Address: Roseburg, Oregon
18. Burial, Cremation or Removal: Roseburg, Oregon Dec 21, 1933
19. Undertaker: Douglas Funeral Home, Roseburg, Oregon
20. Filed Apr 9, 1934,Charles B Wade,Registrar
21. Date of Death: Dec. 18,1933
I Herby certify that I attended deceased from Dec 17 1933 to Dec 18 1933,
that I last saw her alive on Dec 18, 1933 death is said to have occurred on the date stated above at 12:00 am.
The principal cause of death and related causes of importance in order of onset were the following:
Lobal Pneuemonia. Date of onset: Dec 16 33.
Was disease or injury in any way related to occputation of deceased? no
Signed Geo E Houck, M.D.
Roseburg, Oregon

[11] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com), Civil Bend Cemetery, Winston, Douglas County, Oregon, USA.), Julia Dittman memorial #43676123. Photo copyright Coro Hoag, Larry Aichele.

The inscription of the gravestone for Juliana Rinnert says:

Julia Dittman

It is interesting to note that Julia’s name is on her husband William Dittman’s tombstone in Mesa, Colorado, although she is not buried there.

Tombstone Tuesday: James Markey and Margaret Kerwin

James Markey and Margaret Kerwin Tombstone

The image above shows the tombstones for my maternal 3rd great-grandfather James Markey (1810-1873) [4] and his wife Margaret Ann Kerwin (1807-1880) [5]. James and Margaret are buried in the Saint Patricks Cemetery, Java Center, Wyoming County, New York, USA.  What I like about this tombstone is that I have their birth places in Ireland to piece together with their biographical information in order to find more about the Markey line in Ireland.

His marker is inscribed:

James Markey
JULY 10, 1873

A native of Ireland

Co. Louth. Parish of Molary.
May his soul rest in peace. Amen.

James Markey was born in Mullary, County Louth, Ireland. He was left an orphan at the age of three and was raised by friends. At the age of twenty-one, he sailed for America and landed in New York. He worked as a farmer and saved his money to enable to him to purchase land, fifty-six acres in Java, Wyoming County, New York. He added to his original purchase until his property was three hundred and sixty acres. He built a home there and lived there until his death on 10 Jul 1873. His age on his tombstone is given as 61, which would make his birth year 1812. A biography written about his family states he was born in 1810 [1]. A history of Java, Wyoming County, New York states that he came from Ireland in 1837 and located in Java in 1842 [2]. 

Her marker is inscribed:

wife of

DEC 5, 1880

A native of Ireland
Co. Louth, Parish of Donlear
May her soul rest in [?] linen

Margaret Ann Kerwin (Kirwan) was born in Dunleer, County Louth, Ireland sometime between 1807 and 1812. Like her husband, James Markey, I have not found her parents or her family records in Ireland. She appears to have Kerwin family in Java, Wyoming County, New York,  living near her in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

James Markey and Margaret Ann Kerwin were married in New York City, while James was a resident there, in 1834 [1].

James Markey and Margaret Ann Kerwin had five children including three daughters and two sons. Their daughters were Anne Markey (1838-1904), Catherine Markey (1840-1904), and Mary E Markey (1844-?). Their sons were Thomas Markey (1842-?), my 2nd great-grandfather, and John Markey (1872-1925).

The find-a-grave memorial states that they were the parents of James and William Markey. James probably refers to John.  I cannot find information for William Markey being their son. I am researching that James E Markey and William Markey were the children of Thomas Markey and his wife Anna Conroy. Both James and William are referenced as the sons of Thomas and Ann Markey.

Anne Markey married John Mooney (1836-?) and they had 7 children.  Catherine Mooney married John Gallagher and they had two children. An interesting piece of information about Anne and Catherine is that they both died within hours of one another, 06 Oct 1904, likely during an epidemic in Java, Wyoming County, New York. Mary Markey married Thomas Murray and they had 10 children.

Thomas Markey married Anna L. Conroy and they had three children, Rose I Markey, Augustus Markey and Mary Elizabeth Markey (my great-grandmother).  John Markey married Anna E Tuite in 1869 and they had four children. An additional interesting bit of information about their two sons is that their wives were both named Anna and they died within months of one another, Anna Conroy died in April of 1892 and Anna Tuite died in February of 1893. Anna Tuite was was forty-five when she died, Anna Conroy was forty-eight.  Both sons were oil workers in Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. Death sometimes brings families together, but in this case it appears it drove them apart. Thomas moved away after his wife and sisters died. John stayed in Java until his death in 1925.

After the death of her husband, Margaret Ann lived with her daughter Ann Markey Mooney and her family [3].

[1] Biographical review : this volume contains biographical sketches of the leading citizens of Livingston and Wyoming Counties, New York (Boston, BOSTON Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1895), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, this volume contains biographical sketches of the leading citizens of Livingston and Wyoming, New York.

[2] History of Wyoming County, N.Y. (36 Vesey Street, New York, United States, F.W. Beers & Co., 1880), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, with illustrations, biographical sketches, and portraits of some pioneers and prominent residents.. New York: F.W. Beers, 1880.

[3] 1880 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010), Year: 1880; Census Place: Java, Wyoming, New York; Roll: 948; Family History Film: 1254948; Page: 166A; Enumeration District: 205; Image: 0334.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 5 Oct 2015), photograph by Phyllis Meyer, memorial page for James Markey (1812-1873), Find A Grave Memorial no. 42306858, citing Saint Patricks Cemetery, Java Center, Wyoming County, New York, USA.

[5] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 5 Oct 2015), photograph by Phyllis Meyer, memorial page for Margaret Ann Kerwin Markey (1807-1880), Find A Grave Memorial no. 42306895, citing Saint Patricks Cemetery, Java Center, Wyoming County, New York, USA.



Mary Elizabeth Markey (1878-1938)

Edward Miller, Mary Elizabeth Markey and family

According to the genealogy chart my maternal grandfather, Earl Miller,  created in 1968, his mother’s name was Elizabeth Markey. The chart gives no birth information and no death information. To further confuse the issue, my great-grandmother’s death certificate gives the same name for her mother.  So, when I began my search for Elizabeth Markey, I had very little information to start with. My initial questions were when and where was she born, who were her parents and when and where did she die?

Edward Miller, Mary Elizabeth Markey and family
Edward Miller, Mary Elizabeth Markey and family

The above photo was provided by my mother’s cousin, Lois Miller. It shows Edward Miller (1877-1954), Elizabeth Markey (1878-1938) with their five sons, Harvey Miller (1902-1984), Earl Miller (1903-1972) (my grandfather), Lawrence C Miller (1908-1991),  Laverne Albert Miller (1909-1946) and Harold E Miller (1918-2000).

Start with What You Know

I knew that my grandfather had a cousin, we always called her Tuts. When I married in 1975, she gave me a little green teacup that she said was an antique, over 100 years old. I knew that Tuts’ real name last name was Schnitzer and she was from Colden, Erie County, New York. With that information, I was able to go through all the Schnitzer’s in Colden census records and find a Rose Schnitzer, her husband Louis Schnitzer and their three children, William, Winifred and Ethelyn. Checking with my mother, that was the correct family. Winifred Marie Schnitzer, known as Tuts to me, now had a name and parents. If Toots was my grandfather’s cousin, could her mother, Rose, be Elizabeth’s sister?

Next Steps

I next looked for Rose’s maiden name. I found Rose’s and Elizabeth’s brother, Augustus Markey, living with the Schmitzers in the 1925 NY Census in Aurora, Erie County, NY. Bingo! Well, not so fast. My mother suggested talking to her cousin, Lois Miller to find out if she had any additional info. Lois knew that Elizabeth Markey was the correct name and that she died in 1938, due to complications from gall bladder surgery. She also told me that Colden, New York was predominately German Lutheran and the Markey Family was Irish, never the twain shall meet she said. The Miller family was not happy when Edward Miller married Elizabeth Markey.

I stepped back through the census records and found Augustus Markey in the 1905 NY Census, Wales, Erie County, New York. He was enumerated with Thomas Markey, 63 and Mary A Markey, 55. I’ve got it now. I decided to search in Wales, Erie County to see if I could find other Markeys in Wales, New York instead of Colden, New York.  Starting with Find-a-Grave, I found Gus Markey, correct birth and death dates. Everything matched. It seems that Augustus Markey was a life long bachelor who lived with his parents until their death and then various family members.

So far, what I have is that Elizabeth Markey was born in 1877 and died in 1938.  She was the daughter of Thomas Markey and Mary A Markey and had a sister, Rose and a brother Augustus. They were Irish and lived in Wales, Erie County, New York.

Thomas Markey

I found a historical newspaper site for New York.  I found Thomas Markey and Louis Snitzer of Buffalo calling upon friends in Java Center, Wyoming, New York. Louis Schnitzer married Rose Markey in 1896. A funeral notice for Mrs. Thomas Markey in 1892. A funeral notice for Mrs. Ann Mooney and Mrs. Catherine Gallaher, sisters of John Markey and Thomas Markey of Java Center in 1904.

Back to my list of Markeys on Find-a-Grave. I have two Anna Markeys on the list.

I find a biography of a James Markey with biographies of his sons, John Markey and Thomas Markey.  John Markey married Anna E Tuite. It states that Thomas Markey was born in 1842. He married Anna L. Conroy. Now I have both the Anna Markeys on Find-a-Grave.

I find another biography stating that Thomas’ father James Markey, married Margaret Kerwin and had 5 children. His three daughters were listed as Ann Markey, who married John Mooney, Kate Markey who married Gallagher and Mary Markey wife of Thomas Murray. John was listed as married to Ann E Twite who died in 1893. Augustus Markey lived with the Murray family, cousins, at one point.

All of this biographical information mixed with census records and Find-a-Grave records really doesn’t prove the points for me to find out what I need to know for Elizabeth Markey. Who were her parents?

The Proving Point

Looking for any Markey wills or probate records, I found Anna L Markey on 7 July 1893. Anna L Markey died in 1892, her will and probate was settled the following year. All three of her children, Rose, Augustus and Lizzie are mentioned with a guardian appointed for the two younger children, Augustus and Lizzie. Anna, it seemed required her own will and probate because she had extensive debt for her business and Thomas had to sell land he inherited from his father in  order to settle the debt.

Mary Elizabeth Markey went by Lizzie. Her parents were Thomas Markey and Anna L Conroy. Anna L Conroy died in 1892. Thomas Markey and Anna L Conroy had three children, Rose, Augustus and Mary Elizabeth.  Further, Thomas Markey was the son of James Markey and Margaret Ann Kerwin.

The Mystery

In the 1905 NY Census, Augustus Markey is enumerated with Thomas Markey and Mary A Markey. Anna L Conroy, Augustus’ mother, died in 1892. Mary A Markey is noted as 55 years old. She can’t be his mother, nor can she be his sister, Mary Elizabeth. In 1905, Mary Elizabeth would not have been 55 and she was already married to Edward C Miller.

If Thomas Markey is the father of Elizabeth Markey and he married Anna L. Conroy, why is Thomas living with Mary A. Markey in the NY census in 1905? This is the stuff that makes my genealogical brain hurt. Did Thomas Markey marry again after Anna died in 1892? When did Thomas Markey die? When did Mary A Markey die?

52 Ancestors: William Dittman (1844-1918)

William Dittman (1844-1918)

Amy Johnson Crow used a weekly blog theme of “52 Ancestors” in her blog post Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Although Amy decided to stop posting on this challenge, Randy Seaver has continued posting his ancestors on Geneamusings.com. I’ve decided to start posting my ancestors on a weekly basis. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to clean my data and sources.

I’ll begin with Generation 3, my great-grandfather, William Ditman.

William Dittman is #8 on my Ahnentafel chart and is my great-grandfather on my paternal side. Beginning this challenge with him is a challenge unto itself.  Two biographies were written about him, I have been unable to prove most of what is said in the biographies, given that the information contradicts itself.

William Dittman (1844-1918)
William Dittman (1844-1918)

Name: William Dittman
Sex: Male
Father: August Dittman (1816-1856)
Mother: Rose Forest (Before 1830-1864)


Birth: 26 Apr 1844 in Erie County, Pennsylvania, United States [8]
Military Service: 1862; C. 19th Regiment, U.S. Infantry, Regular Army [1]
Census: 14,15,16 Jun 1880 (age 30), Sawyer; Elbert, Elbert, Colorado, United States [3]
Census: 1 Jun 1885 (age 36), farmer; Mesa, Colorado, United States [4]
Census: 20 Jun 1900 (age 51), farmer; Mesa, Colorado, United States [5]
Death: 04 Oct 1918 (age 74), farmer; Debeque, Colorado, United States [8]

Marriages and Children

  1. Juliana Rinnert (1855-1933) [2]

Marriage: 23 Oct 1876 in Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States


Gertrude Ditman (1877-1944)
Edgar Park Ditman (1878-1969)
William Ditman (1882-1895)
Cora Ditman (1887-1906)
Raymond Lowel Dittman (1890-1975)
Leroy Lewis Dittman (1890-1973)
Earl Grant Ditman (1899-1983)


Different names used: William Ditman/Dittman.  Used 1 or two t’s throughout his life. No known middle name. Born in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Canada and Germany according to who presented the information in Census and biographies.

Different birthdates and years used 1844, 1849.

Physical Description

He was 6′ 4″ and a redhead, according to his son Earl Ditman. Both daughters Cora and Gertrude were redheads. Earl Ditman was a strawberry blond. In his photograph that I inherited, William is shown in a suit (with a Masonic pin), a full head of hair, and a large mustache.


1841 Born in Canada (Probably not accurate, given later birth information)

1844 Born in Michigan or Pennsylvania (Death Certificate says 1844, Penn by Julia Rinnert, his wife)

1849 Born in Erie County, Pennsylvania (Information in biographies)

1854 Immigration from Germany (One census record states he was born in Germany) Father immigrated in 1846. Since William was born in 1844, does this make it doubtful that he came over first then brought his family over?

1861 Arrived in Baltimore, Maryland (May not be him in record) 1855-1856 Family moved to Michigan shortly before his father, August Ditman, died in 1856, according to bio.

1862 Joined Rankin’s Lancers (The lancer regiment never saw action and was disbanded 20 Mar 1862.) Rankin’s Lancers was made up of Canadians and formed in Michigan. Interesting, since you were supposed to be 18 to join the Civil War, but he was only 15 when his mother died in 1864. Beginning to make sense that he was older, perhaps actually born in 1841 or 1844. If he joined in 1862 at 18, then he was born in 1844. Obit and gravestone say 1844.

1867 Returned to Michigan

1869 California working in sawmill

1870 In California

1880 Sawyer in Elbert, Colorado

1918 Died in De Beque, Mesa County, Colorado; It is likely that he actually died from complications from Spanish Flu. His obituary does not state this, but several stories on the same page reference those that died from Spanish Flu during the epidemic in 1918.


  1. Historical Data Systems, comp., U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.Original data – Data compiled by Historical Data Systems of Kingston, MA from the following list of works.Copyright 1997-2009Historical Data Systems, Inc. PO Box 35Duxbury, MA 02331.Ori), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com.
  2. Colorado Statewide Marriage Index, 1853-2006; FamilySearch.org, William Ditman and Mary Rinnert, 23 Oct 1876, Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States; citing no. B 65 P 192, State Archives, Denver; FHL microfilm 1,690,070. FamilySearch.org, http://www.familysearch.org.
  3. 1880 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Elbert, Colorado: Page 10, dwelling #103, family #112, William Ditman household; digital images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.Ancestry.com), citing Family History Library Microfilm: 1254090; Roll: T9_90; Enumeration District: 41;
  4. “Colorado State Census, 1885,”  indexed database and digital image, Ancestry.com  (http://www.Ancestry.com), Mesa, Colorado, page 9, Dwelling #183, Family #189, William Ditman household; citing National Archives and Records Administration. Schedules of the Colorado State Census, 1885. Washington, D.C.: Microfilm: M158, Roll: T158_6.
  5. 1900 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Mesa, Colorado: Page 18, dwelling 365, family 368, William Ditman household;digital images, Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com,; citing Family History Library Microfilm: 1240126; Roll: 126; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0072.
  6. 1910 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Mesa, Colorado: Page 4A, , Ancestry.com, (http://www.Ancestry.com); citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.:  Roll: T624_122; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0088; FHL microfilm: 1374135.
  7. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934;database with images;accessed 23 October 2015), William Dittman, 1907-1933; citing NARA microfilm publication M850 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,634,632.., Widow’s Pension; United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards 1907-1933; Civil War and Later Pension Files, Department of Veterans Affairs; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
  8. Certificate of Vital Record, death certificate, Colorado (Denver, California., State of Colorado, Department of Public Health), William Ditman (certificate dated 27 Apr 1977) (6 Oct 1918). Born: 26 Apr 1844. Occupation: Farmer. Cause of death: Acute Bronchitis. Reported by Mrs William Ditman, DeBeque, Colorado.
  9. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 21 October 2014), photograph, “gravestone for William Dittman, Memorial No. 47376581, Records of the Mesa Cemetery (Mesa, Mesa, Colorado, United States);” photograph © Susan Tharp.


Thanksgiving – Samuel Maycock and Richard Pace


We remember the Thanksgiving depicted in the painting above. History teaches children that a great dinner of thanks was held at Plymouth Plantation in 1621. Did you know that this Thanksgiving was not actually the first?


Jamestown is the site of the first permanent English colony in America, and could be the site of the first Thanksgiving feast.

In 1609 at Jamestown, Virginia, a period they called “Starving Time”, they subsisted on starch from their shirt collars, shoe leather, and resorted to cannibalism. They held a feast of some kind, who knows with what provisions they had left, and waited for their relief ship. Only 60 of the original 214 settlers at Jamestown survived.

In 1612 at Jamestown, Virginia, a dinner was held after Governor Dale arrived with a ship full of women (girls) intended to become the wives of the lonely male settlers.

North of Jamestown, Virginia, at Berkley Plantation on 4 December 1620, local colonists began an annual autumn feast known as a day of thanksgiving to celebrate the day they first arrived in Virginia in 1619.

Jamestown Massacre 1622

Jamestown Massacre 1622
Jamestown Massacre 1622

The relationship between the colonists and the Powhatan deteriorated after second group of settlers arrived in 1610. A critical shortage of food contributed to the strife. The Anglo-Powhatan War lasted until Wahunsenacawh’s daughter Matoaka, we know her as Pocahontos, was captured. The chief accepted a treaty of peace in order to free his daughter. Pocahontas married a wealthy settler, John Rolfe in 1614. This union brought years of prosperity and wealth.

Tobacco was growing wild from a Spanish shipwreck, years earlier. Rolfe began to harvest tobacco. He and other settlers were expanding their plantings to land that belonged to the local tribes. In 1617, Pocahontas died, and her father died the following year. Her uncle, Opchanacanough, became the head of the Powhatan Confederacy and it all went down hill from there.

In 1622 nine settlers from the Berkley Hundred were killed in a massacre, by the Powhatan tribe, along with one third of the Virginia colony. Among the dead was one of my 10th great-grandfathers from my paternal grandmother’s line, Samuel Maycock (1594-1622).

Samuel Maycock was a Minister, brought to Jamestown, from England. He was given a land grant north of Jamestown on the James River, his plantation was named Maycock.

During the Indian Massacre of 1622, 31 plantations were destroyed and 341 men, women and children were killed. Among those that lost their plantations was John Rolfe, the widower of Pocahontas. It is unclear if he died because of the massacre or because of illness he suffered during that time. Those that were saved would thank another of my 10th great-grandfathers, Richard Pace (1583-1627).

Richard Pace was an early settler of Jamestown, Virginia. A Powhatan youth, living with Pace, Chanco, was instructed by his brother to kill Pace and his family during the 1622 planned attack on Jamestown. Instead, Chanco chose to warn Pace of the attack. Pace secured his family and then traveled the James River to warn the colonists.

The only survivor found on the Maycock plantation was Sarah Maycock, the infant daughter of Samuel Maycock. In about 1637, Sarah Maycock married George, the son of Richard Pace and his wife Isabella.

There is a historical marker on highway No 10, about 3-4 miles West of Shurry, erected in honor of Richard Pace and another in honor of the Indian Boy, Chanco, for saving the English colony from total destruction.

I find it fascinating that a single child, the sole survivor of her family, lived and I descended from her.  I’m only beginning to research the Maycock and Pace families, but it leaves me truly thankful to my ancestors and their descendants and their contribution to history.

Never Give Up

Never Give Up

If you’ve ever considered giving up, giving up on life, giving up on a task you’ve taken on, giving up on a new hobby, giving up on a job, giving up on a career, giving up on a relationship, giving up on anything at all, you know the agony and the simplicity of giving up.

I’m not dealing with one now, but they are always right around the corner, waiting for me. Dealing with adversity and problems has taught me many life lessons.

1. You can fix it. Think of anyone who has survived a terrible blow to their personal life, health, family, career and you can find someone who fixed their problem.

American playwright, Neil Simon, was watching one of his plays during rehearsal. Something wasn’t working, Neil Simon knew it, the director knew it. A piece of paper passed from Neil Simon to the director. It read “Don’t worry, I can fix it.” Neil Simon is best remembered for plays like The Odd Couple and The Sunshine Boys, he has written over thirty plays, he’s received more Oscar and Tony nominations then any other writer. Simon has been married five times. He and his current wife, Elaine Joyce, have been married since 1999.

I’m a fixer, I like to think that I can fix anything. It’s nearly impossible for me to think that something can’t be fixed. It’s what gets me through the hard problems in life. It’s easy to wallow in the misery of the problem, and sometimes that’s what gets you through. Sooner then later, you need to pick yourself up off the floor and get on with it. Action is better then no action. Worrying and being depressed won’t solve the problem, action will.

2. Every problem has a solution. You may not like the solution to the problem, but it will solve the problem. Shimon Peres said “If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact – not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.” Shimon Peres is 92 and until his retirement in 2014, he was the world’s then-oldest head of state. He wrote 11 books from 1965 to 2011. He and his wife, Sonya Gelman, married in 1945. When became president in 2007, they separated. She didn’t want him to take the position and she lived in alone in her apartment in Tel Aviv. She died in 2011.

A problem may seem to difficult to overcome at first, giving up without considering other options may seem like an easy solution. I like to analyze a problem, identify my solutions, consult with other people to get their ideas and then attempt solving the problem by trying the best alternatives.

3. Don’t isolate yourself. When you’re dealing with a problem, your first instinct may be to push others away and isolate yourself. You lock yourself away in your comfort zone, away from others. It’s okay to take some time to yourself to deal with the issue. At the same time, you need to get outside and breathe the air. Take a walk, go somewhere there are people. Visit your local coffee shop, the park, the bookstore (they still have them). Go see a movie. Go do something for someone else. Volunteer at a hospital, visit a senior center, volunteer to bring meals to the housebound. Focusing on others will help take your mind off what you’re going through, and help you to realize how you aren’t alone.

4. Reach out and connect with family, friends and others that you trust. The act of discussing the problem with someone can help you to see the problem more clearly and give you a new perspective on the solution. If you can’t trust someone close to you, consider reaching out to someone outside your circle. Therapists, counselors and if you are religious, a clergy, an attorney, a coach, some are available online, may be able to give you a new angle. Above all don’t push away someone who can help.

5. React, but don’t overreact. If you have a tendency to see any problem as a horrible problem without a solution, you’re going to spend all your time worrying and fretting. Stay calm and listen for that little voice that tells you the problem is insurmountable. That’s the voice you want to ignore. If you overreact to the problem, you are going to make poor decisions.

Charles R. Swindoll, an evangelical Christian Pastor, said “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

6. Dealing with a problem is a process. Let it happen. Acknowledgement and acceptance are part of the process. Don’t avoid the issue, don’t ignore the process that needs to happen. Most problems don’t go away without some kind of change. Sticking your head in the sand only works for ostriches. Life is a series of changes. You walk along your path, there is a valley is in front of you, no way to get around it. You descend into the valley and it looks like you’ll never get out. You finally reach a plateau, just enough of a change to get you out of the valley. Free from the valley, you amble along on this new found plateau for a while. You see nothing changing, it seems like you will never be doing anything but traveling this plateau, forever. Excitement envelopes you when up ahead is a mountain you need to climb, a way to get out, but a huge obstacle you might not be able to surmount. After a lot of climbing and slipping down and climbing again, you reach the top. Its beautiful up there, you’re out of the valley, off the plateau and on top of the world. You don’t see the missile that hits you and you’re back down in the valley. You aren’t dead, just right back where you started.  Relish the process, the problem and the process are meant to teach you something. Figure out what you need to learn to overcome and not repeat the problem. Your weaknesses got you into this and your strengths can get you out. You have to do the work.

Amelia Earhart said “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She married George P. Putnam, who proposed to her six times before she finally accepted. She disappeared during her final flight at the age of 39.

7. Write it down. When you’re going through a rough road, it helps to write down the journey as it happens. The act of writing the problem down, identifying possible solutions, the changes you can make in your life, and the steps you take to solve the problem, are a catalyst to getting to the solution. Looking back at the journal later could help you if the problem resurfaces later.

Soren Kierkegaard said “Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.” He was a 19th century Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author. He journaled over 7,000 pages over his lifetime. He stumbled through life with a broken engagement, great criticism of his writing, a life long melancholia and inwardness. He wrote too many works to count, one was over 800 pages long.

8. Keep going. In the face of a big problem, the easiest thing to do is to give up. But giving up isn’t a solution to the problem. It’s surrendering to the problem, not solving it.

Winston Churchill, widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century, has many quotes about not giving up. One of his most famous quotes was “We shall never surrender.” He also said “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Churchill attended the Royal Military College. Sandhurst. It took him three tries to get in. He was 65 when he became Prime Minister.  He made several speeches which are memorable for keeping the spirit of the British people going in the face of adversity during World War II. He wrote a novel, two biographies and several histories. He married his wife, Clementine Hozier in 1908. They lost one of their daughters to septicemia in 1921, she was three.

George Lucas said “You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.” George is an American film producer, screenwriter, director, and entrepreneur responsible for Star Wars and Indiana Jones. He is one of the film industry’s most financially successful filmmakers. His first short film, THX 1138, was a critical success but a financial failure. His most famous film, Star Wars, was the highest-grossing film of all time for five years. He married his second wife, Mellody Hobson in 2013. They had one daughter by gestational carrier, also during 2013. They donated $25 million to After School Matters, a Chicago based non-profit the same year.

9. Hang on.  When all else fails, when you’ve tried everything, it’s time to hold on for awhile. Wait out the crisis. Don’t ignore what’s going on, but don’t make a decision if you need to wait it out.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Roosevelt was the only U.S. President to serve four terms in office. He served during a time of worldwide economic depressions and total war. He survived polio that left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Despite this, he tried many therapies and usually appeared in public standing upright. He taught himself to walk with braces in spite of being told he would never walk again.

I like to think that in spite of whatever adversity you are facing, if you can just keep going, get through it and move on, you’ll survive and succeed. I’m not an optimist, I’m more of a realist with a bit of pessimism. But what has made me get here, and many others with far worse on their plate then me, is to remind myself to keep going.

Your problem’s solution may be just around the corner.

Research Project: Amazing Grace by John Newton

Amazing Grace
John Newton (1725-1807)
John Newton (1725-1807)

One of my favorite songs is Amazing Grace. Someday, I’d like to learn how to play it on my tin whistle or bag pipe (Once I learn how to play, of course.) I was listening on Youtube for different renditions, my favorite is The Celtic Woman.

I decided to do a little research on the song, its origins and its writer, John Newton.

According to Wikipedia:

Amazing Grace1 is a Christian hymn, published in 1779, with words written by the English poet and clergyman, John Newton (1725-1807) 2 John was born 24 Jul 1725 in London, City of London, England. His parents were Elizabeth (née Scatliff) and John Newton Sr., a shipmaster in the Mediterranean service. John Newton died on 21 Dec 1807 in England and is buried at St. Mary Woolnoth Churchyard 3.

Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed (forced) into service in the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel off the coast of County Donegal, Ireland, so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. Whilst his boat was being repaired in Lough Swilly, he wrote the first verse of his world famous song. He did however, continue his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology.

Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. It is unknown if there was any music accompanying the verses; it may have simply been chanted by the congregation. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns but settled into relative obscurity in England. In the United States however, “Amazing Grace” was used extensively during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. It has been associated with more than 20 melodies, but in 1835 it was joined to a tune named “New Britain” to which it is most frequently sung today.

With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. Author Gilbert Chase writes that it is “without a doubt the most famous of all the folk hymns,”[1] and Jonathan Aitken, a Newton biographer, estimates that it is performed about 10 million times annually.[2] It has had particular influence in folk music, and has become an emblematic African American spiritual. Its universal message has been a significant factor in its crossover into secular music. “Amazing Grace” saw a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. during the 1960s and has been recorded thousands of times during and since the 20th century, occasionally appearing on popular music charts.

  1. Wikipedia. Database. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace : 2015
  2. Wikipedia. Database. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Newton : 2015.
  3. “Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV2K-PR29 : accessed 22 October 2015), John Newton, 1807; Burial, London, City of London, Greater London, England, St Mary Woolnoth Churchyard; citing record ID 77103085, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com

The Tale of Three Williams in DeBeque, Mesa County, Colorado

A Tale of Three Williams in Debeque, Colorado

Update: We were unable to find the obituary for Willie Dittman, my great-uncle who passed away at the age of 13.

Things fall into your lap sometimes. I call that serendipity, the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way, is the actual dictionary definition. In the genealogy world, we like to think that our relatives, or someone else’s relatives are actually guiding us to find them. Tell my story, they seem to be saying.

You find a tidbit of information on a website or in a census and it strikes you over the head with a bang. This is Aunt Tilly! I finally found her! You find a record that isn’t related to who you are searching for and the name is familiar. You search back though your records and find out the person is one of your brick wall relatives.

When that happens, it feels like meeting a long lost relative at the mall, someone you haven’t seen for years and there they are, they’ve been waiting for you.

Occasionally, one of your searches finds someone that isn’t in your line and you get sucked into the story that they have to tell.

A couple of weeks ago, I searched an online repository for Colorado historical newspapers.  My search led me to Eagle Valley Library District. In turn, that led me to Mesa County Library and a phone call and a few days later, I had my three requested obituaries copies waiting for me in my email.

One was for my great-grandfather, William Dittman, who couldn’t figure out how to spell his last name over the years, with one T or two.  His obituary doesn’t give me new information, I already had his actual death certificate, but it was nice to find out that he was well thought of by his neighbors and constituents.  William was born in 1844 (that’s a guess on my part, he gives several different years of birth and four different locations for his birth through the years.) He was a county commissioner in Mesa, Colorado. He stood 6’ 4”, a redhead with a large mustache. He was missing three of his fingers on his right hand, due to a logging accident, according to my grandfather Earl Ditman. He frequently sent his sons with dynamite to fetch shale in the hills.  His instructions were to drill a hole in a rock, stick one stick of dynamite in, stuff in some gun powder and another stick of dynamite, then run like hell. The boys would pick up the shale, dump it into a wheelbarrow and get back in time for dinner. No wonder he lost his fingers. William died during the flu epidemic in 1918 in Mesa, Colorado.


The next was an obituary for his daughter, Cora Dittman.  Although her obituary doesn’t say it, I believe she passed from Cholera or Typhoid, both which were rampant during the time she died. The obituary only states that the 19 year old was suffering from stomach trouble and a complication of other diseases. She was placed in St. Mary’s hospital and it was thought that she would improve in the course of a few days. However, she grew worse and in the afternoon she sank rapidly. About half past two o’clock, the end came on 19 Apr 1906. Cora was buried in the DeBeque cemetery in De Beque, Mesa County Colorado. She was a lovely redhead and my grandfather was heartbroken his older sister was gone. Seventy years later, he would often remarked that a friend of mine with long red hair reminded him of his sister, Cora. Her brother, Raymond Dittman, named one of his daughters after Cora.


The third obituary puzzled me. I asked for the obituary for Willie Dittman, who died in 1893. What I received was an obituary for a Willie Enoch. Willie Enoch was apparently living at the residence of Mrs. William Dittman (Julia Rinnert), my great-grandmother. He died from a blood clot on the brain in 1894, after suffering an accident while working on a steam shovel near Pueblo, Colorado, four years earlier. He was so badly injured that he had to have his leg amputated. The operation to remove his leg was so badly botched, that he endured two more operations, finally resulting in his leg being removed to his hip. He bore his suffering heroically. During his residence at Salida, Colorado he was married to Anna of that place, whom he left behind. The young man also left his parents, Francis A. Enoch and Cynthia Story, of Glenwood Springs and three sisters. His parents subsequently moved to Mesa County, Colorado. His father died there in 1908 and his mother died there in 1925. They weren’t on my list of people to search in the community my great-grandparents lived in, but I’m happy to have met him and passed on his story.

I’m posting a photo of William Enoch and his obituary.


A special thank you to Joe Vigil, the Library Assistant at Mesa County Libraries. Joe is working on finding the obituary for Willie Dittman, my great-uncle who passed away at the age of 13.

The featured photo above is William Enoch (1866-1894), Odd Fellows hall, De Beque, Colorado (My great-grandfather was an Odd Felllow and I bet he attended meetings at this very hall) and my great-grandfather, William Dittman (1844-1918).


Saturday Genealogy Post – How Did Your Parents Meet?

RandySeaverGenealogyFun-SmRandy Seaver at Genea-Musings.com, a fellow San Diego based Genealogist, does a weekly post called Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week, Randy asked readers to post about how their parents met.

1) Do you know how, when, and where your parents met?  

2)  Please tell the family story in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in your own Facebook or Google+ post.

NOTE:  You can substitute your own story about meeting your spouse, or the story about your grandparents, etc.

My father, William Clark Ditman (1933-1997) grew up in Pasadena, California, the first of two children of Earl Grant Ditman (1899-1983) and Edith Helen Clark (1905-1986). My father served during the Korean conflict and returned from service to Pasadena in April of 1955, near Easter.  He was 22. His parents lived in Pasadena, California and across the street was a shy high school student, my mother, Beverly Joy Miller, who was 16 at the time.

My mother’s brother, Melvin Miller, befriended my father and the two of them shared an interest in cars. My father spent some time repairing and racing cars. His father, Earl, was a mechanic for the Pasadena Fire Department.

My mother says she spied on my father from across the street. At one point she says she used to go outside and water the plants so she could watch him. She apparently watered the plants so often that weeds grew, making her father angry.

On Easter vacation, my mother went to Crestline, California with some of her high school friends. The chaperone, one of the mother’s of another girl, said they could have a party. Mother doesn’t remember who suggested it, but Mel brought my father along to the party. Mom and Dad hung out and talked. They began dating in May of 1955. Apparently, her friend Cynthia V. was jealous, because she liked him as well. They started going steady, Dad gave my Mom a ring he used to wear and she wore it on a chain around her neck.

Shortly before Christmas, 1955, my Dad asked Mom, in his very direct fashion, “When in the hell are we going to get married?” She said yes and they picked out an engagement ring at a jewelry store owned by a friend’s father in Lamanda Park. Mom insisted that he ask my grandfather, Earl Miller (1903-1972) for her hand in marriage, and he did. They were engaged on Christmas Eve, 1955.

A man who lived next door to my grandparents, Earl Miller and Ruth Riordan (1911-1994), was named Leo. Leo worked for a jeweler and my grandfather picked out a mold for him to make their wedding bands. My father had large fingers, and they were unable to find a ring that would fit him. My mother still has both their rings and her engagement ring.

My mother turned 17 in February and she graduated from high school in June, 1956 on a Thursday and she went to work for Los Angeles County Bureau of Public Assistance in July, 1956. She started in Los Angeles, but was transferred to Pasadena since it was closer. She worked there until I was born in 1958. My father was working as a lineman for the telephone company. He went to school in Pasadena and later became a Fireman in Monterey Park.

In July of 1956, Ruth Riordan, my grandmother, and Delta Clark Hayes, my paternal great-aunt began the process of making Beverly’s wedding gown. They were both remarkable seamstresses. My maternal great-aunt, my grandmother’s sister-in-law, Nicki Campbell Riordan, had a sister, actually she had 12 of them, this sister owned a bridal shop in Pasadena on Los Robles. She made a veil for my mother as a wedding present. I wore the  same veil, remade with additional netting for my wedding in 1975.

William Ditman and Beverly Miller were married on 15 Sep 1956 at the 1st Baptist Church in Pasadena, California. They were married by the same minister that married my grandparents, Earl Miller and Ruth Riordan.

William Ditman and Beverly Miller

They spent their honeymoon in a house in Newport Beach, not far from the beach. They had a bit of extra excitement when one of the neighbors was caught being a peeping tom.

After their honeymoon, they moved into an apartment over a garage on North Greenhill in Pasadena. They moved to a house in Sierra Madre and eventually to a horse ranch in Chino in 1970. They were together for 41 years until my father passed away in 1997. I’m an only child, but they raised lots of horses, dogs, cats and birds along the way. I always say that all my brothers and sisters have four feet or wings. My mother moved from Chino in 2006 to be near me and my family and she lives on her five acre horse ranch with two retired thoroughbred horses, 10 cats and her dog, Monster.

Thank you Randy for getting my Mom to tell me a story that I’ve never asked her about before.

Are Freelancers Part of Your Team?

Did you know that according to Freelancersunion.org, 53 million Americans are freelancers? If you own your own business, you probably have at least one freelancer that makes a significant contribution to your company’s bottom line.

How do you integrate them into your team? Here’s just a few tips to make your freelancers feel like one of the family.

  1. Choose wisely. Hire a freelancer like you would an employee. They should fit just as well into your company as your employees do. They should have a similar set of characteristics that made you hire anyone else. It isn’t all about skills or experience, sometimes its about personality types and work ethics.

  2. Communication. Actually, this is a major component of any team, employees and freelancers alike. Its also a major flaw in many companies, we don’t communicate enough and we don’t communicate properly.  Create a shared communication environment.

a. Start with email. Each of your employees and freelancers should have an email address that contains the domain of your website. Its very confusing to your clients when they receive an email that isn’t branded with your domain. They can white list you, so that it doesn’t go into their spam folder. Its a trust issue as well, they should know exactly who is sending them an email when it comes from your company. When they leave, disable the email or leave it active if they are a returning resource.

b. Use a cloud based communication tool. I love Slack.com, but there are many others out there. Keeping all your communication, documents, tasks, milestones, and financial information in one place is a great way to keep the team together despite being in another location or another country. Email is great, but everyone has their own copy of ongoing conversations, email gets dropped, lost, deleted.

  1. Manage time, money and status on projects continually.  This one goes for employees too, but is especially important for freelancers since they are invoicing for payment. You should have a simple process in place that lets you know what they did, when they did it, how long it took, how much longer is it going to take and what are they doing tomorrow.

  2. Treatment.

     Hire them, train them, bring them into the team. Let them know how long they’ll be needed and give them additional opportunities within the company when possible. If you can’t use them anymore, give them plenty of time to find another position. Involve them in meetings, invite them to company gatherings, take them to lunch. Don’t treat freelancers like a fair weather friend. Send them congratulation emails, thank you notes, include them in your holiday card list, wish them a Happy Birthday. This should be part of your connection process with them, not something you do only when you need them. Recognize that they may have other clients and they’ll need to fit your requirements and projects into their schedule. There is another side to this. Don’t treat freelancers more highly then your employees. Sometimes a freelancer has a specific set of skills and you hire them because your team lacks them. If you treat your freelancer at a higher level, you’ll foster animosity from your employees toward that freelancer. Every one puts their pants on the same way, being a freelancer doesn’t make them more special.

  3. Have a back-up plan. Just like employees, things happen to freelancers. They may decide to leave, get sick, go on extended leave, you may even give them a different role. Every one, employee or freelancer should have a back-up plan that includes a manual that helps them decide what to do and a plan in place that helps you replace them for a temporary period or permanently.

Companies may forget to integrate freelancers into the team. A freelancer that is treated like a member of the team will feel more committed to the company and the project. You’ll find that its not all about money, its about how they feel, how they are treated that impacts how they work for your company.