Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Week 28: Reunion

     It's summer time! So you know what that means. Reunions are in full swing. Family, Schools, Organizations. It's a time to get together and reminisce, tell stories, meet new people, and make new memories. I've been to a few reunions for my Dad's side of the family when I was younger. I could never understand how we could be related to so many people that I didn't know. I wish I would have been more interested at the time, but again, I was a kid.
     As an adult, I haven't attended any family reunions. Maybe one day I will put one together. With the boom in DNA discoveries and interest in family history research, family reunions seems to be on the rise. The have definitely evolved over the years with all the different activities and events that people do now.
    While doing my family research, I've been looking through newspapers for articles mentioning my family. In the process of combing through articles, I've found some talking about Reunions and Family get togethers for the Swope Family. The town they came from, Plattsburg, Missouri, was a very small farming town. Everything about everyone was published in the paper. There was no privacy it seemed. While it's good for me, it must have been frustrating for them.
     Since I don't have anything from reunions I have been to, I will share some articles about the Swope family and their family reunions in the Plattsburg Leader.





The Hoover family is related to the Swope family


Friday, July 12, 2019

Fire at the National Personnel Records Center

     Forty-six years ago today, a devastating tragedy occurred at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after midnight, on July 12, 1973, a fire was reported at the NPRC's military personnel records building at 9700 Page Boulevard in St. Louis, MO. Firefighters arrived on the scene only 4 minutes and 20 seconds after the first alarm sounded and entered the building. While they were able to reach the burning sixth floor, the heat and the smoke forced the firefighters to withdraw at 3:15am. In order to combat and contain the flames, firefighters were forced to pour great quantities of water onto the exterior of the building and inside through broken windows. The fire burned out of control for 22 hours; it took two days before firefighters were able to re-enter the building. The blaze was so intense that local Overland residents had to remain indoors, due to the heavy acrid smoke. It was not until July 16, nearly four and a half days after the first reports, that the local fire department called the fire officially out. During the long ordeal, firefighters faced severe problems due to insufficient water pressure. Exacerbating the situation, one of the department's pumper trucks broke down after 40 hours of continuous operation. Numerous times, the fire threatened to spread down to the other floors; but firefighters were successful in halting its advance. In all, it took the participation of 42 fire districts to combat the disastrous blaze. Due to the extensive damages, investigators were never able to determine the source of the fire. Read more about this event on the NARA website: 1973 Fire, National Personnel Records Center - NARA

These are newspaper clippings from the day and the days following
1973 Chillicothe Constitution Tribune

1973 Kansas City Tribune

1973 Jefferson City Post Tribune

     This event has caused many veterans to have trouble getting benefits for their service as well as proper recognition. The NARA has been working since then to put as many files back together as they can, with the help of family also doing genealogy research. I myself have been working on putting back together my 2nd great Uncle's military file that was destroyed. Many millions of records have been restored, but there is still a long way to go.

In honor of this anniversary, my husband surprised me with an interview with his father, Paul Rickards, who was employed at the records center during the time of the fire. He remembers that day very well, so he took the time to tell his son about that day and the days following. I have put together a video of his interview along with photos from the day for him for Father's day and to share with all of you.

So here it is, a first hand account of that dreadful day that changed history forever. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Week 27: Independent

     In honor of it being the week of our Independence Day Celebration here in the United States, I want to dedicate this post to my husband. Why? Well, he is a 4th of July baby! He was born on July 4, 1981. So I want to wish him a happy birthday and share some wonderful memories through photos. He is definitely blessed to still be alive. When he was just 2, he was diagnosed with Childhood ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). He spent a lot of his childhood going to doctors and hospitals for treatment. Through God's grace, he went into remission and then was labeled "cured". Sadly, many of the children he was going through treatment with did not survive. So he definitely doesn't take life for granted. I am so lucky to call him mine. My life wouldn't be complete with out him.

Happy Birthday my love!

My hubby with his sisters Lisa and Traci

So cool!

His bear, Snuggles
He had that bear all the way through treatment &
still has it to this day as a reminder he survived

School Pictures 1998-2000

Isn't he so handsome?

His favorite Christian Music Group
Point of Grace
Our first unofficial date - Feb 2002

Our Wedding Day - July 19, 2002

Are you my daddy?
March 26, 2004

Black Canyon, Colorado

Halloween - 2011
Always good for a laugh

Me and My love - 2019

DisneyWorld - 2015
I'm a viking!

Happy Birthday Mark!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Week 26: Legend

     Jesse James. Now there is a legend. Most people are familiar with this name and it definitely grabs your attention. But if I were to say the name Sheriff Joe Rickards, I guarantee you would have no clue who I'm talking about, nor would you have ever heard of him. And you would be wondering what would these two names have in common. Well, what you would say if I told you, he is the only lawman who was ever able to put Jesse James in jail? Now I definitely have your attention don't I? Well, let me tell you a story.
     Joe Rickards is my husband's 2nd great grandpa. I've written about him before in a blog post, Capt. Joseph Henry Rickards. If you would like to know more about his full life, read it there. Otherwise, I'm just going to focus on the time he was sheriff in Liberty, Missouri. It was his time as sheriff that makes him a legend in my book.
     Joe Rickards was elected to the office of sheriff in Liberty, Missouri in Oct 1865. He served for two years in this office after his brother-in-law, James M. Jones. In a primarily Democratic town, a Republican like Joe Rickards getting elected definitely stirred up some emotions. Jesse and Frank James were very vocal about this fact, which then caused them to come face to face with this Republican.

The follow are excerpts from books and newspapers about this event. The first is an excerpt book written by James Horan called Desperate Men: The James Gang and the Wild Bunch.
     There was scarcely a Saturday night the guerrillas didn't shoot up Liberty, the county seat of Clay. Calvary fashion they would gallop into town on their fine mounts shrieking their wild cries and blazing away with revolvers. Then over to Fred Meffert's saloon for a few drinks There weren't many citizens who protested. It wasn't healthy.
     In the fall of 1866 a minor miracle occurred. In solid Democratic Clay County, a Republican was elected to the office of sheriff. His name was Joe Rickards, a solid, stumpy man with gray, flintlike eyes who refused to be intimidated by the "greatest revolver fighters in the country" and said so.
     One afternoon Sam Holmes, a hanger-on of the guerrillas, rode up to the courthouse and shouted for the sheriff. Told the peace officer wasn't available, he said: "Dingus and the boys are over the Platte County Fair and said to tell Rickards that they're coming into Liberty tomorrow and no ***damned Republican is going to arrest them."
     Late that afternoon Rickards returned to the courthouse and was immediately notified of Jesse's ultimatum. "Better leave for a trip tonight, Joe," his friends warned him. "Those young'uns are bad." "I think I'll stay around," Rickards replied quietly.
     That night the sheriff visited Judge Philander Lucas of the Fifth Circuit Court of Missouri in his chambers. Judge Lucas, who administered a stern but righteous justice in the Jesse James country until the late '80s, told the story to a reporter for the Cincinnati Inquirer, on July 26, 1902.
     "Joe came to me and told me of the message the James boy had sent to him. When he had finished I asked him what he was going to do. He did not say a word, but turning, gave me a very comical and significant wink. 'Joe Rickards' wink meant more than words and on the following day I remained on the qui vive to see what would happen. I did not want to see Rickards get hurt, but at the same time I relied on his good judgement to do the right thing in the right place and time. Besides it was high time that someone had taken the conceit out of those game roosters who were dropping every day or two from a four year course in bushwhacking and who were trying to turn the country upside down with their crazy exploits."
     The gang led by Jesse and including Frank, Clell Miller, Jim Poole, who had led the band on their way to Texas, George White, and some other ex-guerrillas roared into town that morning. "They did so," Judge Lucas recalled, "in a very disorderly fashion, yelling and firing off their revolvers."
     After driving the citizens off the streets and shattering a few signs and windows the Clay County bravos dismounted in front of Fred Meffert's saloon and went in. The jurist continued: "I looked about for Rickards and sure enough there he was right opposite the saloon, with his hat pulled down over his eyes and wearing an old overcoat in which he had never before appeared. The gang had ridden past without even noticing him. The minute they entered the saloon he followed them and drew forth from beneath his coat two six-shooters which he leveled at the gang and said: 'Throw up your hands.'
"They turned, and seeing what confronted them obeyed very quickly. Then as they did so, Joe said: 'Now then, you -- scoundrels, you said that no ***damned Republican could arrest or take you; I'll show you a trick or two about that.' "
     Under the peace officer's gun a deputy relived the bad men of their artillery. The sheriff marched the sheepish gang with empty holsters past the grinning townspeople and into the courthouse where they were arraigned before Judge Lucas. The jurist recalled: "As a matter of fact there wasn't any charge against them, for what killing and robbing they had done had been committed in the war and as an act of reprisal on the enemy. After some palaver and efforts on the part of Joe to find some charge against them, we were obliged to turn them loose after a warning from Joe in the future to mind their Ps and Qs."
     This was to be the first and only time Jesse James was arrested in his sixteen years as America's number one outlaw.
When I first read this, I was floored. This description felt like it was taken right out of the movie Tombstone. Great Great Grandpa Joe was not to be trifled with. It's too bad he was unable to keep Jesse James in custody. It probably would have prevented the following event that took a man's life and set off the James Gang on their spree of robberies.
On the morning of February 13, 1866, the pent-up storm broke over Missouri with  band of howling riders pounding their way through the streets of Liberty to commit what is the first bank robbery in the United States. The crime was accompanied by the brutal and senseless murder of a schoolboy only a few feet from his front yard.
Newspaper article about the robbery

Bank of Liberty in Liberty, Missouri

The account of the monies stolen from the Bank of Liberty

     As you know, Jesse James was never apprehended and charged for this crime. There are still many who believe that either of the James Boys had anything to do with this robbery. Their mother was very adamant that her boys were innocent until the day she died.
     We had the pleasure of visiting Liberty, Missouri a few years ago. We were able to take the tour at the Museum where the robbery had occurred. The story was fascinating. The bank was set up just as it would have been during the robbery. My favorite part though was walking into a room where they have photos and documents displayed, and seeing a photo of my hubby's 2nd Great Grandfather right there on the wall. 
Sheriff Joe Rickards

     That is the legend that comes to my mind when I think of our family. I will close this post with one last article that was published in the Daily Capital News on 1955. It was an excerpt taken from the book, Death of a Legend: Jesse James by Will Henry:
Newspaper clippings from
Photo of Joe Rickards from Clay County Archives in Liberty, Missouri
Document of "monies stolen" from Clay County Archives in Liberty, Missouri
Death of a Legend: Jesse James by Will Henry
Desperate Men: The James Gang and the Wild Bunch by James Horan

Huge thank you to the Clay County Archives for providing a wealth of information about Sheriff Joe Rickards and to the town of Liberty Missouri for preserving the history

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Week 25: Earliest

     I tell you, these writing prompts have really got my brain working overtime trying to come up with topics to write that are not too much of the same thing or about the same ancestor. When thinking about this week's prompt, "Earliest", there is only one thing that keeps popping into my mind that I feel compelled to write about. This post isn't going to be about my earliest ancestor, my earliest photo, or really anything to do with my ancestors at all. I am going to write about me and MY earliest memory from when I was a child.
     A lot of people can't really pinpoint their earliest memory from their life. They may have scattered memories, but can't determine the actual age they were. Well, after talking with my mom about a particular memory, she was able to help me know how old I was for this memory. I was only 2 years old. And this memory while it is just a fragment, it has left a lasting impression on me. Enough apparently that I still remember it 35 years later.
     I was born in 1982, the only child of my parents, Dennis & Maggie. We lived in a one bedroom, one bath house, with an eat-in kitchen, and living room. I have lots of photos from growing up in that house and quite a few memories. For the first two years of my life, it was only my dad, my mom and me. But then something changed in 1984. We were going to have someone else living with us in that little house. My Papa was going to come live with us. He lived with us until the time I was 13 years old, then he moved in with my Aunt Patty. So for most of my life, he was a big part of it. For as long as I can remember, he has always been there.
     My Papa had to come live with us because he couldn't take care of himself anymore. His wife, my grandma had passed away in 1980, and he was just a mess without her. He had a severe alcohol addiction, and it was literally killing him. It got to the point, he was hospitalized and family was told, he would have to live with someone who could watch over him and make sure he would never have another drink again. That's where my earliest memory comes in.
     I remember sitting in my car seat in the back of our car. Vaguely, I remember my mom crying to someone about the situation. I don't know who she was talking to. But I just remember feeling sad, scared and wanting to hug my mom, but I couldn't because I was strapped into my car seat. My mom was feeling overwhelmed because my dad had decided we were going to take Papa in and take care of him. More accurately, mom was going to have to take care of him since dad worked and she was a stay at home wife. We were very tight on money as it was, and we had a very small house. Papa was going to have to sleep on the fold out couch in our living room. I shared the bedroom with my parents. Not only that, but mom babysat 4 other kids to try to make some extra money. So five kids, and now an elderly father-in-law with help problems. No wonder my mom was crying and scared.
     Don't get me wrong, I was happy to have my papa with us all the time. I loved spending time with him and I have lots of wonderful memories with him. But I know it was so hard and stressful on my mom and dad. And even years later, I still remember that moment in my life where things changed. We all do our best with the lot we've been given in lot and try to make the best decisions for our family. I've learned that through the years having my own family. I've wondered how much my daughter will remember about her younger years. We also had our struggles, just like every family. But going through what I have as a kid, I try my best to make sure my daughter has good memories in her life because you never know what will stick in their minds 35 years later.

My Papa and I - 1983
I was just over a year old