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Catching Up & A Special Gift

 

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Me, at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, California

 

March & April have been bananas for me!  March started off while I was at RootsTech.  I had a week of catch up and then I was off to Washington to help my Mom & Auntie V.  Then the first week of April was Spring Break and our California adventure.  And then, I buried myself with a bigger than expected project.

 

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My amazing oldest

You see, my amazing oldest son, who is serving as a missionary, is about to turn 20.  He is a happy, fun-loving kid who inspired this funny photoshop creation.  He really is the center person.  A friend put his head over the two Sister Missionaries heads.  It was Valentine’s Day in this photo and a nice old man had purchased flowers for the Sister Missionaries and somehow my funny boy was asked to hand them the flowers, and from there, we got this delightful creation.

But, back to his upcoming birthday.  I asked him what he wanted or needed.  He said he wanted nothing now, and requested that I just save a little money for him to buy new clothes when he gets home.  An understandable request.  But it’s like he didn’t know who he was talking to.  😉

Of course, I couldn’t do nothing to mark the end of his teenage years!  I’m a fan of meaningful gifts.  So after plenty of mulling, I decided he would be getting 20 gifts of 20 items to celebrate his passage into his twenties.  Now if you are thinking that is basically the exact opposite of what he requested you would kind of be right.  But most of the gifts cost absolutely nothing.  Or almost nothing.

As a family, we put together several things like – 20 jokes, 20 ridiculous pieces of advice, 20 birthday wishes and so on.  The two items that took me the most time were 20 favorite memories of him and 20 ancestor cards.  For the 20 favorite memories, I made a list of several off the top of my head, but I even went through some journals and typed up a few entries that were especially sweet.

And then we get to the gift that was my favorite.  Twenty ancestor cards.  Ahhhhh.  Genealogy gifts are my favorite.  The ancestor cards were created using Adobe Illustrator.  I then printed them as 4×6 photos at Costco.   Here are two of the cards I created:

mary brown young ancestor card-01

seth maffit ancestor card-01

I simplified things to try to appeal to my son.  I reduced place names to city & state or city & country.  I shared some highlights from the person’s life.  Things I thought might interest my son a bit.  I intentionally chose ancestors who were immigrants, some type of pioneer, or someone who overcame big challenges.  I wanted him to see how diverse our family history is.  I wanted him to be able to draw some strength from his ancestors’ stories.  I hope this gift will be interesting and meaningful to him.  But the good news is that I LOVED making it.  So even if it isn’t his favorite, it was worth the time I spent.  Now I need to go back over them and perfect them a bit and share them with my siblings.

Now that the 20 gifts of 20 things are all done and in the mail, and I’m back home for a while, I have some serious catching up to do!  I’m behind on everything.  😉

 

 

Happy Friday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery this weekend!  xoxo

 

 

ps – I’m sorry I haven’t been around to read any of your wonderful posts in a few months.  Hopefully, I’ll be back to my normal routine again soon!  I’ve missed hearing about your genealogy successes.  ❤

 


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Courage To Seek the Man Who Left

 

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Vince, December 1956

I have one living biological grandparent.

Vince.

That is all I have ever called him.  I didn’t decide to call him that, my Mom, her Mom, and her siblings did.  I don’t know when they decided to do that.  I’m sure they must have called him Dad at one point.  But for my entire lifetime, he has been Vince.

As a young child, I was completely unaware of his existence.  I’m not sure when that changed.  But when I was 16 years old I met Vince for the first time.

Meeting wasn’t his idea or mine.  It wasn’t even my Mom’s idea.  It was Uncle Dan & Aunt Barbara’s idea.

They tricked him.

His mother had been in a nursing home for many years.  Dan & Barbara were daily visitors.  But there came a point when they knew she didn’t have much time left.  Dan insisted that Vince come and see his mother.  It took some persistence, but finally, Vince and his wife Dena planned a trip to Spokane from California.  Dan also insisted on taking Vince & Dena out to dinner one night while they were in Washington.  What Vince did not know is that Dan & Barbara called my Mom and her siblings and told them that Vince wanted to see them all.  They set up a family dinner at my Uncle’s home.  The evening of the family dinner, all of us minus one cousin were gathered at my Uncle’s home.  Dan & Barbara had Vince & Dena in the car and as they approached, Dan explained what was actually happening.  Vince was shocked but had no graceful way out, and so for the first time in many, many years, Vince was with all of his children at the same time.

As a 16-year-old who had been shielded from basically all of the feelings of my Mom and her siblings towards Vince, I did not view this as an important moment.  The only part of that evening I can recall in detail was the only moment I spoke with Vince.  I had been playing the piano.  As I finished and stood, there was Vince sitting in a chair near the piano.  He said to me, “What is your name?”  I answered and he asked, “And who is your parent?”  I answered and felt more than a little bit of annoyance that he had no idea who I was.  That was it.  I answered and walked out of the room.

That was the entire extent of my experience with Vince, my grandfather, during my growing up years.

When I married my husband, my Mom insisted that we send Vince & Dena an announcement.  I was ambivalent but complied.  Vince & Dena sent me a gift.  It was a precious moments figurine of a couple on their wedding day.  I was not softened.

Almost ten years later I was copying VHS tapes of our family movies of that year for each of our grandparents.  It was our Christmas gift.  As I started the last tape I realized that I had another grandparent.  It struck me that even though I viewed him as simply ‘Vince’, my mother’s biological father, I was 1/4th – him.  And I didn’t know a thing about him.  I made one more copy and sent that along with a handwritten letter explaining my a-ha moment and the fact that I knew nothing about him and I wanted to.  I gave him my address, phone number, and email address along with the letter and 2 hour VHS of my children.  That Christmas we were out of town visiting family.  When we returned, there was a voicemail from Vince.

I bet I listened to that voicemail at least 20 times.  I had reached out and asked for contact but I was nervous to call him back.  Before I had worked up the courage to do so, he called again.  I had caller id and knew it was him.  I answered.

We talked.  He shared that this has been hard for him – I never did clarify what was hard, my reaching out, or the separation from his children.  He went on to share that the divorce had been hard.  Seeing his children after the divorce had been hard – not the seeing them part, but the returning them part.  Apparently, my Grandma made that moment very uncomfortable for everyone.  There was a lot of strife.  He slowly saw them less and less.  His family was not happy about the divorce.  But they were even more unhappy about his remarriage to Dena.  They felt it was shameful that he married his sister’s divorced next door neighbor and worried what people would think.  Vince was feeling pushed away by everyone.  He got a job offer out of state and took it.

He ran away.

I can’t really blame the guy.  He was young.  Divorce was taboo.  My Grandma was a fighter.  His family was embarrassed.  He ran away from his problems and created a new life.

He told me that he thought it would be better for his kids if he quietly stepped out of their life.  What he said next was so sad.  “I hoped that when they were old enough they would look me up.  They never did.”

My letter and VHS opened old wounds.  But it wasn’t all bad.  We talked a few times on the phone.  I learned a bit about him.  He showed interest in me and my children.

And then my entire world imploded.  I didn’t have the energy necessary to feed this newly formed relationship with Vince.  I allowed it to wither away to a Christmas Card relationship.  I didn’t know how to explain my sudden disappearance to him.  So I didn’t.  I sent Christmas Cards and other items of interest.  He sent Christmas Cards as well.  When my oldest graduated from High School, Vince sent a card and money order.  My son thought I was crazy when I photographed his signature on the money order.  But I had never seen his full signature before.  And likely wouldn’t again.

Then sometime last year I decided I really wanted Vince to take a DNA test for me.  I printed a very large fanchart for him.  He was in the center.  His mother’s lines look pretty good, but his father’s line is completely blank.  I also printed my fanchart so he could see a comparison.  I once again handwrote a letter asking if he would take a DNA test for me.  I told him I would purchase it and send it to him.  I mailed my package and waited.  My Grandma asked me over and over again if he had agreed.  It seemed like she was going to call him and give him an earful if he hadn’t and that seemed like a bad idea.  It was only a few months later that my Grandma passed away.

I started thinking more and more about Vince.  He was my only living biological grandparent.  (Biological is an important distinction here because my Grandpa is very much alive.)  I hadn’t spoken to him in years.  I had only met him once.  I felt this strong sense of urgency that I needed to see him and talk to him as an adult.

I mentioned what I was thinking to my Auntie V.  She said, “Well, if you want to do that you better do it soon.  I hear his health isn’t very good.”

I decided I needed to do it.  What I couldn’t decide was if I should show up at his door unannounced or call ahead.  Finally, I decided to call Aunt Barbara and ask her opinion.  She thought I better call first.  She said, “He’s not mean, he’s just absent.”  She told me he would not make an appointment and then not be there (like his sister once did).

So I called.  No answer.  I left a message.  I explained that I would be passing through and wondered if I could stop in for a brief visit.  I told him I would call him back the next day.  I did just that.  He didn’t answer.  I proceeded to call him back and got a busy signal.  I called 21 times that day and only heard that annoying busy signal.  I decided to quit trying to call.  Showing up seemed best.

 

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Me, still hopeful about collecting some DNA from Vince on the day we set out.

 

So last week, during Spring Break, I loaded my family up and we drove to the middle of California and stayed in a hotel in Vince’s town.  The next morning we got up, packed the car and drove toward his home.  Until we encountered the locked gate around his community.

I can’t adequately express what I felt as we sat in our car staring at that gate.  I was so close!  I had two DNA tests in my purse.  I had a million questions.  His house was mere feet from where I sat and I could not get to it.

Several cars came and drove through.  I toyed with the idea of just following the next car.  But I wasn’t sure what would happen.

I called Vince, again.  He didn’t answer.  Again.

We sat there.

And then a nice woman turned the corner of the sidewalk and was about to enter the neighborhood on foot.  My husband got out of the car and talked to her.  He explained that my grandfather lived behind the gate and we were trying to get in.  She asked his name.  After my husband’s reply she said, “Oh Vince, I know Vince.  He is such a great guy!”  I was already weirded out by my husband calling him my grandfather, but her response was even more difficult to reconcile.  She said that she probably shouldn’t tell us this but if we went around to the front and typed in a specific code we could enter the neighborhood.  So we did.

As we pulled up to Vince & Dena’s home, Vince was outside getting the mail.  I hopped right out of my car and walked up to him.  With a million complicated feelings going on inside of me, I offered my hand and said, “I’m Amberly”.  He was quietly shocked.  His ignoring me hadn’t worked.  But as Aunt Barbara said, “He’s not mean, he’s just absent.”  And so he let me and my family in.

For the first time in my life, I had a face to face conversation with my grandfather.  A real conversation.  Not just the exchange of a few words.  And for the first and second time in my life, I hugged my grandfather.  We weren’t good at it.  But we hugged, twice.

We also talked.  I didn’t tell him, but I recorded our hour-long visit.  He shared a few stories.  Answered a few questions.  Showed me a few family treasures.  And he took a picture with me and my children.

He would not take a DNA test for me.  He wouldn’t even talk about it really.  I could sense that it wasn’t worth pushing and so I let my long-sought dream slip through my fingers and I focused on what he would give me – a bit of his time, bits of information.

It was a really nice visit.  Vince is very quiet.  Very gentle.  Very organized and orderly and clearly likes things to be neat and calm and peaceful.  As I sat there I had to really concentrate to see that man I knew from old photographs.  But he was there.  His dark eyes were intently focused on me as we spoke.  I knew with absolute certainty that there was no way he and my Grandma could have made their marriage work.  They could not be more different.  I also felt a sense that he and Dena had very carefully constructed their world to protect them from past hurts.  And here I was opening old wounds.  But he let me.

It took a lot of courage for me to fight my way to his doorstep.  But I feel a sense of peace now that was worth every bit of my effort.

I will likely never see Vince again.

And that is okay.

I will probably still call him Vince.  But describing him as my grandfather as I type is becoming less and less uncomfortable each time.  I may always think of him as Vince, but after last week, I think I will be okay with also thinking of him as my grandfather.

The moment that will stay with me until I leave this life is the moment he spread his arm wide, inviting my teenager into his embrace for a photo.  Vince squeezed and jostled my son a bit, just like my Uncle does.  My son smiled.  And then we all stood together for a few pictures.

 

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It turns out 6-year-olds also don’t view a moment like this as important.  No real smiles from my little darling, but this photo is a treasure anyway.

 

I can’t possibly heal the deep wounds of the past.  But last Tuesday I accomplished something that I hope will open a way for Vince’s posterity to know just a little bit about him.  To think of him as more than just the man who left.

I hope I built a bridge of sorts.

I hope.

 

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Leaving California and The Coffee Cup

 

DUVAL, Deane and Francis Duane, leaving California - edited

Deane & Frank Duval

 

My great-grandparents were adventurous at a time when being adventurous kept your family fed.  They traveled around with their little family of four, working where they could find a job, and leaving when the job ended or they needed more – more opportunity, income, etc.  Eventually, they settled in Spokane, Washington and started a photography studio in their home.  But before settling down was what seemed best, one of their stops was in Pacific Beach, California.

According to their daughter, my Grandma, as they were traveling through California, they stopped and her dad decided it was a great place for a restaurant.  So for a time, they owned and ran The Coffee Cup.  This photo taken in front of The Coffee Cup has a simple inscription on the back:DUVAL, Deane and Francis Duane, leaving California - back

Leaving California.

As I have studied the photos from this time period and gone over my notes I am a little bit puzzled.  Was the Coffee Cup in Pacific Beach or in a different part of California?  This photo doesn’t look very much like the San Diego I am familiar with.  Also, there are photos of my Grandma in Pacific Beach that seem to be taken well after this photo.  Did they make two California stops?  I really wish that simple inscription contained one very important detail – the date!  😉

Oh well, I imagine as I continue going through photos, the timeline will become more clear.  So for now, I am going to enjoy this awesome photograph of my Grandma and her younger brother sitting atop their trailer in front of their little restaurant as they leave it behind in search of the next adventure in their journey.

My great-grandparents were such excellent photographers!  They gave me no end of photos to stare at, wonder about, and puzzle over.

I am so grateful.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!  If not, maybe label a photo or two so your great-granddaughter won’t be left to wonder.  🙂

 

 


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Major Milestone Right Here!

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Last week I filed and filed and filed letters.  Do you know what a treat it is to open letter after letter and see your grandparents handwriting?  To touch the pages they touched?  To hear their sweet and enduring love for each other?  It was completely joyful for me.

I am soooooo happy to say that I filed every single letter for the 5 1/2 years they wrote to each other!  Ten Hollinger boxes filled with letters.

(Of course, I still have the letters from the 1960s when my Grandpa was in graduate school.  But we won’t even think about those yet.)

As soon as I finish scanning Aunt Vera’s scrapbook – these letters are next on deck for scanning.  I think they deserve their own blog.  Maybe this fall.  😉

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These four boxes were mostly full on Wednesday when I started.  They look so beautiful empty, I might just leave them on my table for a day to enjoy their tender place in my heart.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you conquer a special genealogy project sometime this year – it is an incredible feeling!

 

 


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Tell Me a Story – “So this is Margaret, so this is Margaret”

Tell Me a Story

Tell Me a Story Challenge :

Choose a person.  Then do any or all of the following:

  • Make a list of the top ten stories about this person, a word or phrase will do.
  • Choose one story and tell a compelling, short version that will interest your family members in one minute or less.
  • Tell a more detailed version of that story including photos if you have them.

Note:  You can read about my inspiration behind this challenge here.  I’ve decided to reverse the order in my post.  If you are reading this, you like stories so I’ll start with the full story, then the bite-sized story to hook my family members, then the list of ten stories.

 

Mary Margaret Ellis Peterson, looking left

My Grandma, Mary Margaret Ellis

My grandparents met and started dating in High School.  My Grandpa graduated at the height of WWII.  He knew he would be drafted so he enlisted in the Marine Corps right after graduation.  My Grandma wrote to him and waited for him.  She finished high school and went on to graduate from college (I think Weber College) with a degree in science.  My Grandpa served two years in the Marine Corps and then the war ended.  He was home for a time before he left for New Zealand on an LDS mission.

Grandma had been waiting for a long time.  She had enjoyed her high school and college days but she had more time to wait before Grandpa would be home.  She was 19 years old and she decided she wanted to serve an LDS mission.  She met with her local church leader and together they filled out mission paperwork and sent it into Salt Lake.

Her request was denied.  It’s totally understandable though.  At that time a woman had to be 23 to serve an LDS mission.  Well, she didn’t take no for an answer and sent in papers again, once again requesting to serve a mission.  And once again her request was denied.

She had just turned 20 years old when my Grandpa’s brother Darrell died.  She attended the funeral with her future in-laws.  She was invited to ride in the family car to the cemetery.  She was in the car when President David O. McKay walked up to it.  He greeted my great grandparents who introduced President McKay to my Grandma.  He took her hand in both of his and as they shook hands he said, “So this is Margaret… so this is Margaret.”

The very next week my Grandma received a mission call in the mail.  She was called to serve an LDS mission with one stipulation – she had to return home early.  She had to return home one month before my Grandpa so she could plan their wedding.  She was able to serve for about 14 months in the California mission.  In the many boxes she kept are photos from her mission and a few other items she saved including a letter from her mission president praising her hard work and love for the people in her mission.

My spunky Grandma was a missionary at a time when few women were serving missions and she did it 3 years younger than was allowed.  The more I learn about my Grandma the more in awe I am of her many talents and her great strength.

 

One Minute Story

My Grandma sent in mission papers twice when she was 19.  She was told she had to wait until she was 23 – the current minimum age for sister missionaries.  She met President David O. McKay just after her 20th birthday and got a mission call in the mail the next week.

 

Top Ten Stories List for Grandma

  • Cabbage Patch Dolls, Pound Puppies, can stools, quillos, and more!
  • The movie file
  • Identical feet
  • “You missed a B♭.”
  • Road map brain – travel map trip
  • Our last lunch
  • The Last Christmas Party
  • “I really need to write these things down…”
  • Pouring over her scrapbooks
  • Grandpa’s bracelet, grandma’s curls
  • “So this is Margaret, so this is Margaret.”
  • Two VCRs

 

Note:  My grandparents told me this and a few other stories about their interactions with President McKay several times.  I loved hearing them tell me stories.  This one has been on my mind because my oldest boy is currently waiting for a mission call.  The system says he has been assigned so we are just waiting for that big white envelope to arrive in the mail any day.  Don’t worry – he meets all of the criteria so he will not be kindly told to wait until he is older like my Grandma was.  😉


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Ancestor Story – Alice Hyde – 52 Ancestors

Francis Cyprien, Francis Henry, Elvera & Alice Hyde Duval, 1903 Oakland California

Duval Family, about 1903 in Oakland, California. Francis Cyprien, Francis Henry, Annie Marie Elvera & Alice Hyde Duval.

On Monday I posted a photo of Grandfather Hyde and asked for opinions on my assessment of which Grandfather Hyde was in the photo.  This spurred a whole lot of conversation between myself and Alex of Root to Tip.  She dug up a few records for me and then my curiosity completely changed my research plans for the week in an exciting way.  Since I have the Hyde family dominating my thoughts I decided to write about my most recent direct-line Hyde ancestor, Alice Hyde, my 2nd great grandmother.

Alice was born 29 July 1880 in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada to William Henry Hyde and Ann Whiteley.  Alice was born 7 years and 5 months after her parents were married but as far as I can tell, she is their first child.

When Alice was just four years old, her mother Ann died as the result of childbirth while the family was living in Golden, British Columbia, Canada.  Henry was away for work at the time of this tragedy.  I imagine it was quite a shock to return home to his small, motherless family.  Just shy of two months later, he marries Ann’s younger sister Alice in York, York, England and leaves his daughter Rosey to live with his parents in Sheffield, York, England.  He kept Alice with him.  Rosey may or may not be the child born just prior to Ann’s death.  I wrote more about that here.

Alice is now the step daughter of her aunt who is also named Alice.  So now there are two Alice Hydes in the family and they are only about 11 years apart in age.  I wonder what that was like for young Alice?

Alice Hyde and her step mother Alice Whiteley Hyde.

Alice Hyde and her step mother Alice Whiteley Hyde.

Alice and her family eventually settled in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Henry was known for having the first successful working farm in Fairbanks.  During the year 1896 Henry became acquainted with a man by the name of Francis Cyprien Duval.  Henry tried to convince Frank to claim a piece of land near his farm and try his hand at homesteading.  Frank wasn’t interested.  He had left Quebec to get away from farming.  He was bound for Dawson.

At the age of 16 Alice left her father’s home with Frank and together they traversed the famous Chilkoot Pass.  They beat the Gold Rush by an entire year.  Frank was able to do well mining in Dawson.  He and Alice were married 12 November 1897 in Dawson, Alaska.

At least seven children were born to this union:

  • Annie Marie Elvera Duval, 2 December 1899, in Oakland, California
  • Francis Henry Duval, 10 May 1901, in Oakland, California
  • Leon Howard Duval, 5 September 1907, in Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Delores Lenore Duval, 27 April 1909, in Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Male Duval, died 15 February 1915, age 0, in Lynn Creek, British Columbia
  • Alexander Valmore Duval, 26 August 1916, in Lynn Valley, British Columbia
  • One additional child was born and died prior to 1910, details currently unknown.

Frank and Alice began their marriage in the wild Gold Rush town of Dawson, Alaska.  After a short time they claimed land near Alice’s father’s farm on the Chena Slough 6 miles outside of Fairbanks.  They spent the summers in Alaska and the winters in California.  Frank built them a cabin in Alaska and they purchased a home in Oakland.  My great grandfather, Francis Henry Duval, shared some lovely memories of the homestead in Alaska during an interview with my mom in the 70s.  I recently re-listened to this recording and was excited to find answers to several of the questions I had.  Among the many details, he talked about their garden.  They kept a greenhouse in Alaska and had stoves in there to keep everything warm.  They planted their vegetables in the greenhouse much earlier than anyone else.  They would begin harvesting their lettuces, tomatoes and the like in the spring.  They loaded their bounty into a canoe and took them into Fairbanks and sold them to restaurants.  He shared many other interesting details that make it pretty clear that Frank and Alice were very industrious.

After the big San Fransisco earthquake in 1906, a real estate man wrote to Frank and Alice to let them know that their house had been completely destroyed.  He offered to sell the land for them.  The Duvals decided to stay in Alaska and sell the land.

Alice’s children were getting older.  In order to attend school they had to walk along the railroad tracks for about 3 miles to arrive at the schoolhouse.  Alice would send Vera and if the weather was good she would also send young Frank.  She wanted her children to be able to attend school more easily and she wanted them to have a better education.  In 1908 her father Henry died in Fairbanks.  I’m sure this strengthened her resolve to leave.  She was eventually able to persuade Frank to leave the homestead in Alaska and settle in Vancouver, British Columbia sometime between 1910 and 1911.  They are in Fairbanks in the 1910 US Census and Vancouver in the 1911 Canadian Census.

They only lived in Vancouver a short time before Frank tired of being in the city.  He found a piece of land in Lynn Valley and built a two story home with a basement.  The school was one block from their new home.  My great grandfather recalls being in class one day when one of his schoolmates pointed out the window and exclaimed, “The Duval house is on fire!”.  Everyone rushed out of class and ran toward the home.  There was quite a gathering of townspeople on the lawn in front of the home.  Young Delores had been left at home alone but was rescued when someone heard her cries from the basement.  Shortly after young Frank arrived, Alice returned from her errand to find her home aflame.  She started yelling for people to help save the furniture and whatever they could.  Only young Frank was brave enough to help his mother and together they pulled as many items from the burning house as they could.

Frank determined he would not rebuild his home himself and he hired someone to build on the same spot.

Duval family home in Lynn Valley, British Columbia.

Duval family home in Lynn Valley, British Columbia.

In the spring of 1919, Frank was in a buggy accident while at work.  He was a Forest Ranger and had rented a horse and buckboard to go out and take care of some of his work.  His horse was spooked and he was thrown off the seat of the buckboard landing on his feet.  His leg broke just above the ankle from the impact and the broken bone tore through the flesh landing in the dirt.  The exposed flesh and bone were filthy.  Frank was away from town, all alone.  He took off his shirt, bound his leg and crawled along until he was able to find two sticks large enough to use as makeshift crutches.  He slowly and painfully made his way toward town.  It was a seven mile journey.  The scared horses returned to their home without Frank and so men went out searching for him.  He was rescued after he had traveled about a mile and a half and was taken to the hospital in Vancouver.  From the time his leg was broken until he made it to the hospital 17 hours had passed.  During that time he developed blood poisoning.  He was in the hospital about 7-12 days.  At first the doctors said he was doing well.  Alice was bringing the children to the hospital to visit their father.  Toward the end of his hospital stay he took a turn for the worse and the family was called back.  The doctors told Alice that the only way to save his life was to amputate the leg at the knee.  Frank refused.  He worsened and lost consciousness, Alice consented to the amputation.  The day after the amputation Frank died leaving Alice widowed with 5 children ranging in ages from 18 to 3 years old.

Shortly after Frank’s death, Alice determined to leave Canada and returned to California.  They went to Oakland to see the site of their former home to find it exactly as they had left it in the early spring of 1906.

The family moved around a lot.  Young Frank had the difficult responsibility of providing for his mother and siblings for many years.  Young Frank married in 1930.  For several months after he married, he continued to send money home to his mother.  Eventually he passed the responsibility of her care to his younger brother.

Her later years included additional struggles.  She suffered from poor health and eventually lost another home.  This time it seems she lost her home to the bank near the end of the depression.

In December of 1940 she was arrested on the charge of Grand Larceny in Whatcom, Washington.  She pled guilty and was imprisoned for a few weeks shy of 1 year.  She died 8 1/2 years after her release, 24 June 1950 in Red Bluff, Tehama, California.  There was not contact between Alice and her son Frank after her release.  The circumstances of the last few years of her life are unknown to me.

My grandmother does not have fond memories of Alice.  She says she was a mean, nasty woman.  I imagine Alice’s many losses were very difficult.  I would like to think that she might have been kinder in her younger years.  Maybe not gentle, I imagine she had to be pretty tough to survive in Alaska during that time period.  But hopefully kind.  She must have been brave and strong to endure all that she did.  I hope her last few years of life brought some peace and stability.  I hope she was able to enjoy her time in California before her death.

Do you have any tough frontierswomen in your tree?  What were they like?


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Ancestor Story – Francis Cyprien Duval – 52 Ancestors

Francis Cyprien, Francis Henry, Elvera & Alice Hyde Duval, 1903 Oakland CaliforniaDuval Family – 1903 – Oakland, California
left to right: Francis Cyprien Duval, Francis Henry Duval,
Annie Marie Elvera Duval, Alice Hyde

Francis Cyprien Duval is my 2nd great grandfather.  His son, Francis Henry Duval, is my great grandfather.  I knew Grandpa Duval well as he lived until I was in college.  Francis Cyprien is a fascinating part of my family tree.  Let me tell you about him.

Francis Cyprien Duval

  • Born – 3 October 1863, Rimouski, Quebec, Canada.
  • Baptized – October 1863, Ste-Luce Church in Rimouski.  He was baptized Cyprien Duval.  His God parents were his father’s sister Arsene Duval and her husband Cyprien Chaurette.
  • Married – 12 November 1897, Dawson, Alaska to Alice Hyde.  He was 34, she was 17.
  • Death – 19 May 1919, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  He injured his foot while working in the Forest Service.  The foot became gangrenous and he refused to have it amputated.  The infection resulted in his death.  He left a family of five children ages 20 down to 4.

Francis Cyprien Duval is of French descent.  His line has a few branches that currently stop in the early 1700s but most of his lines were in Quebec prior to 1600.  The families moved around Quebec a little bit but he is the first in my direct line to leave Quebec.  He seems to have an adventurous spirit.  He set off on his own and settled in a gold mining town in Alaska where he met Alice Hyde.  After they married they moved back and forth between California and Alaska semiannually for a few years and eventually settled in Alaska and then British Columbia.

When I think about Francis Cyprien Duval I wonder about several things.  I wonder what he set out to find when he left Quebec.  Was he seeking riches, adventure, a new life?  I wonder if his family was excited for him or sad to see him go.  I wonder if he had contact with them after he left.  I wonder about the large age difference between he and his wife.  I wonder about his nomadic life with his growing family.  I wonder how different his children’s lives would have been had he allowed the doctors to amputate his foot.  I wish he had kept a journal, I would love to read it.  My musings on his life and choices makes me realize I need to be more thoughtful with my journal writing.  The why is something I don’t address nearly as often as the what.

What ancestor in your tree was an adventurer?  What would you like to know about them?