Thursday, July 28, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Burnwell, West Virginia

Photo from "Kanawha County Images, A Bicentennial History 1788-1988" by Stan Cohen

The coal mining town where my grandfather lived and worked, and where my mother was born.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Mother and daughter

My second great grandmother, Cynthia Morris Shiflett, and my great grand aunt, Lillian Shiflett. (Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - It pays to keep checking

I have checked numerous times on Find a grave for family members. Last year, my great-grandparents were not on there. Something told me to check again this morning and imagine my happy surprise at finding this photo.

Lesson learned? Keep checking back. People are adding new things to sites and you never know when a piece you've been looking for might appear.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Madness Monday - The case of the missing grandmother.....

I remember my paternal grandmother.

She passed away when I was nine years old, but I remember being at her house, talking to her, visiting her when she was sick, attending her funeral. I can tell you what hymn was sung at the service. Her grave is a few plots over from my father's.

I say all of this because I can't find her in the death index. Her obituary is nowhere to be found in any of the online searches.

Thankfully, I have a card with a copy of the newspaper clipping, but it bothers me that I can't "find" her.

Mind you, I can't find her birth record, either, but I know she was born at home and have a copy of the family Bible.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thrilling Thursday - Flood

My grandfather, Everett Lett, was a coal miner in Paint Creek, West Virginia.  I've heard many stories over the years regarding life in a coal-mining town, however, the scariest I've ever heard was concerning a flood that hit the town when my aunts were toddlers.

The flood came up suddenly.  My grandfather was coming from town with my Aunt Alice in tow.  He came to a part of the creek where a man was on the other side, offering assistance.  Everett had to make a quick decision and, in an attempt to save my aunt's life, tossed her across the creek to the man to insure her safety.  He was planning to get back to the house and try to rescue the rest of his family.

My grandmother, Virginia, was home with my Aunt Betty.   As the water rose, it started to fill the small house.  Virginia, being only 18 years old herself, was terrified.  She stood on furniture, holding my aunt in her arms, until the water rose too high for her to stay there.  In a desperate moment, she climbed up and sat on the mantel of the fireplace, holding her little one around the waist.  She knocked the picture off above the mantel, held on to the nail sticking out of the wall and stayed there all night until my grandfather was able to get to her.

My grandparents didn't find out until later the next day that my Aunt Alice was safe.

Years ago, a book was written about the flood.  My Great-aunt Bertha,  my Aunt Alice, and my Aunt Betty gave interviews.  They also spoke to the man who caught Aunt Alice that night.  In fact, a local paper had reunited them not long before.  It had been the first time they had met since that horrific night.  In the book, there is also a "lovely" sketch of my grandmother on the mantel with Aunt Betty.

The website I use for my West Virginia records has a brief story regarding the flood:   Paint Creek Flood of 1932