I’m so excited about this post! You know how it is sometimes with older relatives – you want to know their story and they’re just not willing to talk about things. I must have caught Grandma Kate on a good day. Finally, after all these years! I knew she would be hesitant to talk about some things. The end of her life was difficult. It’s pretty drastic when you get caught by fire. She does touch on that, but mostly she talks about her family history. How convenient for me, since that is what I am most interested in. It is a family history blog after all.
Her voice doesn’t sound like what I expected. It may have changed through the years. Or maybe I was errant in my expectations. Either way, I enjoyed hearing her story. I hope you do, too.
I really didn’t have anything in mind for my blog post this week. Sometimes I’ll see a story that needs to be told or find an amazing old photo that I just have to share. But this week I just went looking back in some of my mom’s old photos. It is my mom’s turn, after all. I gotta keep it relatively even.
I’ve been thinking of posting this photo for a few years now. I had to look back at my old posts to make sure I hadn’t used the photo before. This is my 350th post, so it’s getting harder and harder to remember which photos I’ve posted and which ones I have thought about posting over the years. 350 posts is a lot! It’s almost enough for a post for every day of the year. Of course some of those posts weren’t “official” posts. Either they were lagniappe or documents supporting another post.
Phenice family cousins in Hathaway, Louisiana, circa April 1951.
This picture was taken around April of 1951 in Hathaway, Louisiana. I estimated the date based on the youngest subject of the photo. I can identify her as Carol Phenice. She was born in the winter of 1950/51 and she looks like she is still quite young and the weather and plants looks like it is springtime. The oldest subject of the photo is my dear sweet mom. Her name was Betty Lou Bucklin and she was born on May 20, 1933. Her parents’ names were Fred Bucklin and Myrtle Phenice.
I’m mentioning her parents so I can explain to you the connection between my mom and her younger companions. And in this case, the connection comes from Myrtle Phenice AKA Grandma Bucklin or just Grandma. Myrtle had a younger brother named Orville Phenice. Orville and his wife Elta Whitman Phenice had five children, including their three youngest shown in this photo.
Holding little Carol is their third child Linda. She would be about eight years old in this photo. The boy in the photo is my mom’s cousin Paul. He was the only son out of those five children. That’s just like what Grandma and Grandpa had. I wonder if he and my Uncle Austin ever got together to complain about living in a household of mostly girls. I grew up in a household that was evenly divided and it seems to me like the best situation. I’m probably biased.
I wonder where all the other siblings are from these two families? It doesn’t really matter. It would have been too crowded with everyone in it. This is a nice little grouping of cousins. I’ve always liked the photo. It is such a good photo of all of them and the background is pleasing. I’m pretty sure it is at my grandparents’ property in Hathaway.
And now I’ve finally used the photo in a post. I’ll try to make sure I remember that fact!
H.C., Warren, Orville, Henry, and Daisy Phenice circa 1917.
This is a picture that was shared with me a few years ago at the Keys Family Reunion. It was an easy enough way to share it – they brought the photo to the reunion and I took a photo of it. I should keep track of who shares photos with me, that way I can thank them properly. I do appreciated whoever it was that brought the photo. It makes me wonder how many other photos are out there that I would find interesting enough to share on my blog.
The reason it was shared at the Keys Family Reunion is because of the woman in the photo. She would be my great grandmother Daisy Keys Phenice. She was born in England in 1876 and moved to America with her mother and siblings when she was 11. The family settled in the Hathaway, Louisiana, area. She grew up, and at the age of 24 she got married to Harry Clifton Phenice. A year later they had their first child Sylvan. In 1903 Grace was born. My grandmother Myrtle was born in 1906. She was followed by Henry in 1909, Orville in 1911, and Warren in 1916. That brings us to the year the photo was taken.
So actually this is H.C. and Daisy with half of their children in 1917. I wish that my grandmother was in the photo, too. Maybe she was taking the photo. She was about 11 years old when this photo was taken and would have been in elementary school with her friend Emily Brown. In old letters they talked about going to school together and riding the buggy. Sometimes Orville and Henry would go along or rode horseback. For some reason I always pictured older brothers riding along for protection, but this is the age that they would have been! At least they had company!
It seems like I write a post about my great great grandfather’s Civil War experiences every two years. This is the third one I have written about it. (See A Witness at Ford’s Theatre from 2017 and Eating Tacks in the Civil War from 2019.) Of course I mention the fact that he was in the Civil War more frequently. Besides sharing a document about my ancestor Samuel Charles Phenice from the War Department, I’m sharing a photo of him. The document has a date of December 18, 1890, but the photo didn’t come with a date. I’m guessing that it is from around 1935.
Samuel Charles Phenice in Almena, Kansas, circa 1935.
I’m sharing the photo of Charles first, because most people are more interested in people photos that old musty documents. Fortunately for you, I will share both of them. I find the musty old documents interesting, too. The photo is not the best photo I have of him, but I still like it. It comes from a photo of him with two of his daughters and a son-in-law by way of the Lincoln Collection (thank you, Mona!). The photo is a bit distorted, especially of the other people in the photo. Maybe I’ll get a bet version of it some day.
From the approximate ages of the people in the photo, I estimated it to be taken around 1935. Samuel was born in 1844 in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. That would make him around 90 years old in this photo. He lived to the ripe old age of 95. Not too bad for a guy that was shot and could have died during the Civil War when he was just 20 years old. It was sometime around 1935 that he went to live with his daughter Myrtle. Not his granddaughter Myrtle who was my grandmother. Her name was Myrtle Phenice Bucklin. Charles’s daughter was Myrtle Phenice Cozad.
That Myrtle lived in Almena, Kansas, but it’s not like Charles moved far away to live with his daughter. He lived by himself in Precept, Nebraska, which is near the southern border of Nebraska. Kansas is on the other side of that border and the first town you come to is Almena in Norton County. It’s only about 10 to 15 miles away. It’s out in the middle of nowhere with fields surrounding you as far as the eye can see. So this photo was taken somewhere in that area. In 1936, he was one of only two surviving veterans of the Civil War in Norton County, Kansas.
Dec. 18, 1890, document from the War Department for Samuel Phenice.
Though he was known as a Civil War Veteran for 70 years at that time, he only served for a short few months. That’s because he was injured in the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5, 1864. This document shows the exact dates of when he was injured and the hospitals he was admitted to. He was a private in Company F of the 57th Pennsylvania Volunteers. He mustered in at New Brighton on Feb. 12, 1864. Following that:
May 5 – received severe flesh wound to the thigh
May 24 – entered Carver General Hospital in Washington, DC, with gunshot wound
May 31 – transferred to Haddington in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
June 16/17 – entered General Hospital in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
October 8 – transferred to Invalids Corps
It doesn’t mention it in this document, but other sources show that he was in a field hospital between receiving the injury and entering Carver G. H. in Washington. During that time it was taken over by Confederate forces and was unable to get adequate treatment. He suffered from severe hunger and gangrene. I’m not sure how long he was under medical care between the June and October dates. I’ve also seen something that showed that he suffered from that injury most of his life. It didn’t keep him from farming and homesteading in Nebraska. He seemed to have an active life.
I’ll leave you with one of the many articles about Charles that I have found. It concerns his activity while in the Invalid Corps. He was assigned to Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. and was there on the night of April 14, 1865. Cue the curtain to rise for the performance of “Our American Cousin.”
Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin in 1949 at Hathaway High School in Hathaway, Louisiana.
Here is a photo of my maternal grandmother Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin. The photo was taken in 1949 when Grandma was a schoolteacher at Hathaway High School during the 1949/1950 school year. Of course she wasn’t a grandmother back then. She was just a mom to her five children. I think her oldest daughter Sylvia had graduated high school the previous school year and was just beginning college at Lafayette. My mom Betty Lou was starting her junior year of high school. She would graduate in 1951 and that was the first year that students graduated with 12 years of school instead of 11.
So does that mean that there wasn’t a graduating class of 1950? I never really thought to ask about that before. And how long did my mom’s class know that they were going to have to attend 12 years of school instead of 11 before they were able to graduate? Did they have a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years before that? Whatever it was, it was not the year my mom graduated, even though she was a year behind her sister Sylvia. My mom would have to go through another school year before she was able to graduate.
By the time her younger sisters Alma and Loris graduated, they were probably used to the idea of graduating in 12 years of school. Austin was the youngest child and the only boy. He was around 7 years old at the time this photo was taken. His only scholarly concern at that time might have been wondering if he was going to have his mother as his teacher for the third grade. That was mainly what Myrtle taught. She wanted to get those kids in their formative years and make sure that they learned how to spell correctly!
She started teaching around 1928 after getting her Teaching Certificate. She stopped when she got married in 1930 to have children and raise a family. She resumed teaching in 1945 and continued to 23 years or so. My earliest memories of her were of her being a teacher. I don’t remember ever going to her classroom like my older sister Karen did. I might have, but we tend to forget things through the years. Especially if we don’t have a photo to reinforce the memory. So that’s why I’m sharing this photo and story today. So we’ll all remember Mrs. Myrtle Bucklin, the famed 3rd grade teacher from Hathaway High School.
Daisy Keys and Harry Clifton Phenice in 1950 at the time of their Golden Anniversary.
Toward the beginning of last year (Feb. 13, 2020), I wrote a post about my great grandfather Harry Clifton Phenice. He was my mother’s maternal grandfather. In that post I shared a recording of him playing the song “Soldier’s Joy” on his violin. The recording was from June 12, 1943, in Hathaway, Louisiana, the hometown of my mom Betty Lou Bucklin Landry. In the beginning of that recording, a family member gives the date and says that the Phenice family was getting together for the first time to make a phonographic record of their time together.
That tune on the fiddle wasn’t the only music made that day. Not by far. One of the songs on the recording really got my attention. It was a song that H. C. sang solo. It was not the best recording, but I thought it was a fun little tune. I listened to it over and over again to try to figure out the words to the song. I tried to search for a few song lyrics, but I was never able to find a result. Then last week I was thinking it was time to share that song with everyone. So I listened to it again to see if I could determine what song it was. So I did a search with the precise words that I could make out. I did a search for “whene’er I meet upon the street” and I got a result. That’s right. I got one result. And it was the song I was looking for.
It was on a website that had Old Time Song Lyrics on it. I knew that I could now share the song with everyone. It had a word or two different that I couldn’t make sense of. Then I found another site that had the sheet music for the song. That’s right! The sheet music. It was the correct lyrics of the song, but it doesn’t match the melody. The song was by Fred Wilson and it was published in 1865. That song was as old to my great grandfather as this recording is to us today.
The name of the song is “The Gal With the Roguish Eye.” No wonder I couldn’t tell what old H. C. was singing about in that tune! It starts with
“Oh, I think it very pleasant to promenade the street
and gaze upon the fashion of each pretty girl I meet.
With little hats and bonnets and boots (cost nine or ten),
Which makes her altogether more expensive than the men.”
It’s kind of unusual lyrics for a song. Most men don’t talk about the fashions of women and talk about their little hats and bonnets! I’m not really sure what the line about boots costing nine or ten means. It was over 150 years ago, so it could be referring to boots costing 10 dollars. I suppose that would be considered expensive in those days. And then it continues with
“Oh, dear oh, it makes me feel so shy
Whene’er I meet upon the street that gal with a roguish eye.
Oh, dear oh, it makes me feel so shy
Whene’er I meet upon the street that gal with a roguish eye!
I love the words to this song! H. C. really sounds like a character and I’m sure he was giving a playful smile to his wife Daisy when he sang this song. The definition for roguish in this context is playfully mischievous in a flirty way. H.C. was 68 years old when this song was recorded. My mom would have been 10 years old. She always said he was a pleasant fellow. I think it comes through in the song. What do you think? Give it a listen.
It’s such a fun song. I’ve been singing it almost every day over the last week or so. So I thought I’d sing along with him. I recorded myself singing the second verse of the song. It goes like this:
“Among the smiling faces, there’s one above the rest
who dresses with the greatest care and of the very best.
She don’t appear to mind me whene’er she’s passing by
But drops her veil clear o’er her face to hide her roguish eye.
If I knew how to do an edit to make it sound like an old recording, I’d do it. That would be just the opposite of what I do with the photos all of the time. The verse sounds okay, but my favorite part is when I’m singing together with my great grandfather! How fun is that?! If we’re fortunate, one day my brothers and I will meet up with our great grandfather in a Place Out of Time and sing that old tune together. In the meantime, you can enjoy this rendition.
When I was looking for something to write about this evening, I stumbled across this old, blurry, sunbaked photo of my grandmother Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin. While it is not the best quality photo, I really liked the whimsical look and smile on her face. Even though it shows a side of my grandmother I appreciate, I wasn’t sure the photo was in good enough shape to share. But I thought I would give it a try.
This is one of those photos that I never know what the final result will be. I’ve had better photos that I’ve edited and the results are awful. Either I can’t get the features to look right, or for some reason it doesn’t look like the person with the changes that are made. I was worried that it would happen with this photo since there is contrasting darkness with sunlight and shadows.
I couldn’t even tell where her eyes were looking when I first started working on the photo. The more I worked on it, the more I realized she was looking into the car that she is leaning against. There are also lots of spots on the photo and a few places where the image surface had been torn off. So I had to doctor it quite a bit.
When I went to run it through the sharpening program, it didn’t work. It wasn’t able to recognize her face, probably because of the confusion of where her eyes were looking. So I edited it some more to help to define her eyes. That was all it took! It sharpened up her face and it actually looked like my Grandma! I still had to edit it some more to put more Myrtle back into the photo.
Edited photo of my grandmother.
So here is the final result. Look at that smile. I think that’s the thing that drew me to the photo in the first place. She looks like she’s having a jolly good time visiting with someone in the car. I’m estimating the date of the photo based on how old she looks compared to other photos of her from around that time period. Of course with the blurriness of the original photo, I could be off from the right date by a decade or so.
I am pleased with the result, otherwise you wouldn’t be seeing the revised version and you’d be reading about how I tried to improve that original old photo. I would have still used that old photo by itself. I was always charmed by it, but now even more so. The photo was taken around 1950 when my grandmother was around 43 years old. That was around the time that Betty Lou (Myrtle’s second daughter, my mother) was a senior in high school. The oldest daughter Sylvia had gone off to college that year. Alma would have been two years behind my mom, and Loris was two years after her. The baby boy Austin was five years younger than Loris.
If I got the year close, it wouldn’t be long after this that she would become a grandmother. She and my grandfather Fred Bucklin lived out in Hathaway, Louisiana, when most of us grandkids were growing up. It was a fun place to visit. They had a sock monkey that I always wanted to play with once I got there. There were always puzzles to play with. We had fun picking fruit in my grandfather’s nursery, making mudpies in the garden, and playing around out in the bamboo stand. Their kitchen cabinets were backed with the same material as old chalkboards, so we could write and draw on them.
One of the things that I especially liked about my grandmother was her laugh. She had a hearty, infectious laugh. When I look at this picture, it reminds me of that. I’m sure that this mirthful, expectant look was followed by rollicking laughter. At least I like to think so.
I had a hard time choosing the best title for this post. When I refer to the man in the photo as “Grandpa Phenice,” some people may think that I’m referring to my mom’s grandfather who was Harry Clifton Phenice. I myself did not have a grandfather that was a Phenice. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Myrtle Phenice and she was married to Fred Bucklin, so she was usually just called Grandma. Sometimes I do refer to her as “Grandma Bucklin” just to be a little clearer. The man in the photo was Myrtle’s paternal grandfather Samuel Charles Phenice.
Samuel Charles Phenice fought in the Civil War out of Pennsylvania and was a witness to the Lincoln Assassination. Shortly after those events he got married to Cathrine Jane Foster. They had children and moved around (for more details of that, see my post HCP in 1938) and ended up in Nebraska. During that time there were documents about homesteading and marriages. Samuel Charles was called either “Samuel” or “Charles,” while Cathrine was usually called “Kate.” So I could have called the post “Grandpa Charles Working in the Yard.” I just didn’t like the sound of it.
Samuel Charles Phenice in Precept, Nebraska, circa 1920s.
The “Working in the Yard” part was the easy part. As you can see from this old photo circa 1920s, Samuel is working hard in his yard. He’s cutting logs, possibly for firewood. It gets cold in the winters in Nebraska and I’m sure he would have a fireplace or two burning in that house to keep warm. I can see that he had at least two chimneys showing in his house.
I’m thinking that this is his home in Precept, Nebraska. That’s where he lived with Kate until she died in 1921. He was 76 years old when she died and probably lived there by himself for a few years. I know that in 1930 he was living with his daughter Emma Quillen in Richmond, which is in the same county (Furnas) as Precept. So my guess is that the photo was taken between those dates.
I got the photo from my cousin Mona who is the granddaughter of Emma Quillen. She was kind enough to share it with me almost four years ago. She sent me several photos and I call it the Lincoln Collection. I call it that because of Samuel being a witness to the Lincoln Assassination, but also because Mona’s father was born and died on Lincoln’s birthday and his middle name was Lincoln. If you’ve looked at my blog posts, you’ve seen most of my copies in the Lincoln Collection. I’m running low on new ones to share. I’m hoping that there are possibly some more that could be added to my collection.
This photo is not the best image quality, but I still really treasure it. Something about how he is busy about his work and it looks like he is not even aware that his photo was being taken. He’s just going about the business of getting his chores done: Grandpa Phenice working in the yard.
A month or so ago I ran across something that I thought was fascinating, amazing, and a little bit disturbing. It was a short clip in a genealogy group that showed an old photograph. What was so different was that the person in the image blinked and turned their head slightly. It was just a short little two- or three-second clip. It looked like it was an ad for a website or for someone who had some type of software to create the short clips. I wondered what it would be like to see some of my own images of my ancestors with animation. Would it be eerie? Would it show their personality in a way that a photograph can’t? Would it help me connect with them by making them seem more real? I really didn’t pursue it much, but when I looked at some of my photos, I wondered how they would look animated. I even thought about looking to see what the cost of it might be. It was intriguing.
Then last weekend there was a genealogy conference online and it was free. How could I pass that up? So I signed up and went looking to see what I might learn from other people who are obsessed with their family history. I got distracted by a feature they had that showed you all of your relatives who had signed up for the programming. I had cousins from all the lines in my family. People who had Patureau, Phenice, Landry, Bucklin, Leveque, Hine, Keys, Stanbrough, McGrath, or other names in common with me.
As I was trying to get going with some of the programs available, I decided to look at my emails. I had gotten several reminders for the event with suggestions of “must watch” videos. Instead of finding that, I found a notice of a new feature on the website MyHeritage. They were announcing that they had acquired a program for animating photos. I had already paid for a year-long membership because of their feature for enhancing photos. (That and a deal of only paying 1/3 of the regular prices!) I’ve mentioned that feature before, because I have posted photos that have been enhanced. So now, in addition to enhancing (and/or coloring) photos, I can also animate them. Who needs a conference? I had some animating to do!
So that’s what I did all weekend. I have a lot of old photos. It’s really amazing to see some of those old photos come to life. The people in them can look sweet, pensive, or concerned with just a blink of an eye or a slight turn of the head. Like the first example I posted above. That one is of my great great grandmother Cathrine Jane “Kate” Foster Phenice. I grew up seeing one photo of her that my mother had. In that photo Kate was an older woman and she always reminded me of Grandpa Munster. I got this photo of Kate taken in 1890 from a cousin (thanks again, Mona!) a few years ago. It’s one of the first photos that I used with the enhancement feature and I was amazed with the results. It’s one of my favorites for the animation feature, too. Now when I think of my great great grandmother, I think of that impish smile from this video. I think that if I had known her, I would have been able to get her to grin like that. This is much better than thinking of her as a Grandpa Munster lookalike!
But how realistic is it? While I do find some really amazing looking animations, I go through so many more that I discard. I posted some of the better ones last weekend on Facebook. One of them was of me from the 2nd grade. I had originally discarded the first results it showed. It showed me looking up to the side and my eyes were badly crossed. That’s not how I looked back then. (Most of the time. I didn’t cross them often because my mom warned me they could get stuck like that!) When I found out that there were 10 options for each photo, I went back to my 2nd grade photo again and found an acceptable option. Yet even with the best results, I still get comments about the animations being “creepy” or “freaky” or “robotic.”
And they are right. Here is an animation of Kate’s granddaughter Myrtle Phenice. She was my maternal grandmother. We all called her Grandma. This was made from my favorite photo of Grandma. I was able to get a good version of the photo because of the enhancement feature I talked about. Yet, when I use the animation feature on it, I can’t get a good result. I can get something better than this one, but I’m using this as an example. It doesn’t leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling like the first one. It’s the same exact process, but the results are more on the disturbing side.
While it is easy to accept the sweet, impish grin of Kate and to reject the distorted face of Myrtle, neither one of them could actually represent what the person was really like. While it may help you notice some features of someone that you might have overlooked, take it with a grain of salt. But I still think that I could have gotten Grandma Kate to smile like she does in the animation!
Photo of Myrtle Phenice Bucklin taken circa 1930. This is the photo used for the animation above.
Here is a nice old photo of my mom’s maternal grandfather Harry Clifton Phenice. Mama always referred to him as Grandpa Phenice or Grandpa H. C. I’m not sure if most people knew him as H. C. or as Harry. I’m rather fond of the Grandpa HC moniker. He always looks like a kind person. Maybe I’m biased because my mom always had good things to say about the only grandfather that she knew. Her Bucklin grandfather died before she was born.
HC was born on May 24, 1874, in Butler County, Pennsylvania. His parents (Samuel Charles Phenice and Cathrine Jane “Kate” Foster) were also born in Pennsylvania. Charles and Kate lived in Pennsylvania for a few years after their marriage in 1866. Their first child Chauncey was born in 1868. Later that year they moved to Tennessee, which is where Anna May was born in 1869. They moved back to Pennsylvania in 1970, where they had three sons in succession – William Emory in 1871, James Edmund “Edd” in 1872, and HC in 1874.
I don’t know why they moved back to Pennsylvania. Maybe it was to be with family. Cathrine’s mother Anne Magdaleen Milliron Foster Richael died in 1873 (her father Morris Foster had died in 1852) in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Charles’ parents were still alive, but that didn’t stop Charles and Kate from moving their family to Milford, Nebraska, to start homesteading that same year. Charles’ mother Susan Jackson Phenice died in 1877 in Butler County. That left Charles’s father Daniel Phenice as their only living parent. He must have been willing to relocate, because he showed up in his son’s household in Nebraska in the 1880 Census.
In Milford Charles and Kate had another daughter named Mollie in 1881, but she died as an infant. Daniel Phenice died at some point before the 1885 Nebraska Census in Milford. Then after 12 years of living in Milford, the family moved to Hitchcock County and applied for a homestead there in November of 1885. That is where Lola was born in 1886 and Emma was born in 1889. I don’t know what life was like as a family homesteading in Nebraska in the 1890s. There was no electricity, no radio, no TV, and no cars or tractors. It must have been a much quieter place than our modern world. We were out of our comfort zone recently because of cold weather causing us to be without electricity for a few days. They never had electricity and I’m sure the winters of Nebraska were colder than the ones down here in Louisiana! But somehow they survived. That’s probably why HC learned to play the fiddle. The family needed entertainment during those long cold winters.
Those cold winters may have been the driving force in HC relocating to southern Louisiana when he was a young man. Even though his family moved around when he was growing up, once HC got married to Daisy, they stayed in one place. Well, not really. They did stay in the Hathaway area, but they lived in several different houses through the years. There’s a long list of places. I think I’ve mentioned that before. Since they did stay in the same area, my mom got to know her grandfather pretty well. And like I said, she always had good things to say about him.
He looks like a man with a pleasant disposition – like he would welcome any of his little grandchildren with open arms and a warm smile. In the photo I also notice a few men sitting on a porch behind him. It looks like they could be waiting for him. It was traditional at their family get togethers to play a few games of dominoes. This looks like a family gathering after Sunday church. (Why else would he be wearing shoes?) He was at his brother-in-law’s house in Elton, Louisiana. So after posing for a few family photos, he may have been ready to shuffle a few dominoes.