Category Archives: HAY

‘A devoted husband, a kind father, & a true friend’

130510344_1448998595 (1)Today while connecting up relatives on Find A Grave, I discovered a copy of my great grandfather‘s obituary. It’s probably from the Lake Preston Times, the paper serving the community where he lived and farmed. His son Everett, my great uncle, is still living, going strong at age 100. He looks just like him.

Unfortunately, his father George, as Everett explained to me a few years ago, had taken up a bad habit, passed on by his father Frank: chewing tobacco. Of course, today there are warning labels and such. But back then who knows how much they knew about the terrible consequences of tobacco. Sadly, the habit caught up with George Hay in 1941. It had taken his father Frank prematurely, too, in 1903.

In 1939, Everett had moved west, to Seattle. He was chasing after a girl, Grace, whose family had moved to Oregon. They were married the same year his father died. One day he got a call from his older sister Lois. She explained how sick there father was. So Everett packed up and returned home, taking over the family farm after his father had passed.

The move west would have to wait.


A Snapshot of Warren Hay’s Farm in 1860


Warren Hay, my great-great-great grandfather, was born into a family of farmers. He had a farm in Hanover Township, Ashland County, Ohio. On August 20th, 1860 the federal government conducted an agriculture survey of the area.

Warren had 44 acres of land, 34 that had been “improved,” and ten that hadn’t. The cash value of the farm was $1200, and he had equipment worth $300.

He had five horses, three milch cows, three cattle, forty-two sheep, ten pigs, with the total value of the livestock amounting to $450. He had one hundred bushels of Indian corn, fifty bushels of oats, and sixty lbs. of wool.

Sadly, Warren died four years later, in 1864 at the age of 42.


Seventy Five Years Ago

A man tries to escape from a soon-to-be collapsing Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
A man tries to escape from a soon-to-be collapsing Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Seventy five years ago today — November 7th, 1940 — the Tacoma Narrows Bridge began swaying in the wind, eventually violently so. The concrete and steel couldn’t withstand the wild contorting, soon collapsing into the waters of Puget Sound below.

A film of Galloping Gertie, as the bridge came to be known, was made. One day while browsing the shelves at the school library I discovered a copy of it and soon grew fascinated by it. I was young and watched it again and again. It’s still captivating.

And I have an even more personal connection to the story. Until yesterday, I hadn’t thought about it. My great uncle, who celebrated his 100th birthday in July, was living in Seattle at the time. He had arrived with friends from South Dakota in 1939. He was following his girlfriend’s family, who had moved to Oregon. One of his sons and his family have called Tacoma home for many years. They still live there.


The Draft, Civil War Style

Warren Hay Civil War Draft Registration
Warren Hay, an ancestor on my paternal grandmother’s side, is recorded as having registered for the draft during the Civil War. By 1863, the North was desperate for soldiers. The draft was not popular, leading to riots in some places.

I think this is the first Civil War draft registration I’ve seen for a family member. In this instance, it is Warren Hay, ancestor of my grandmother Marilyn. He lived in Ashland County, Ohio. His younger brother Isaac is listed, too. The original is at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


100 Years!

11800458_935479824288_4591741592690228539_n 100 Years!

My sister-in-law, the redhead seen talking to my great uncle on his 100th birthday in the photo on the left, wrote this up a few weeks ago, in celebration. She posted it on Facebook. She’s quite the poet, and now doing it for pay, too.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there. But I do plan on visiting him first chance I get.

“This bright soul turned 100 years old today. And as we looked back on a century of memories and experiences, I couldn’t quell the overwhelming sense of joy and awe at this man’s stunning accomplishments and wealth of fantastical stories. We can only hope to be as humorous and spry and humble and kind as Everett as age creeps and curls into our bones. I would consider myself immensely blessed to leave behind even an iota of the legacy he has created in his wake.”


Three Remain

Three siblings celebrate a birthday, his 100th.
Three siblings celebrate a birthday, his 100th.

My great uncle recently celebrated his 100th birthday with many of the family on hand at his humble abode in Oregon. My grandmother, now 88, visits him every week. Their youngest sister and her husband were there, too, visiting from South Dakota, where their father and grandfather built a farm and homestead.

I plan on visiting him in a few weeks, once I get settled after moving. It’s been a crazy, hectic month.

Here’s a little history to supplement his remarkable life. It shows the family in 1930: their father, George B., and mother, Geneva, who lived into her 90s. Sadly, Lois and Azalea are gone, but Grace, Everett and Marilyn remain.



Ninety Seven Years Ago

Ninety seven years ago yesterday, my great grandmother’s younger brother Leslie died from wounds in France while serving on the Western Front during the First World War. He had been cut down by German machine gun fire four days before and taken to a makeshift field hospital, what had been what’s called a sanitary train, a place where the wounded and sick were tended by medics and nurses. Maybe I’ll get a chance to visit his resting place and the area of operations in France on the 100th anniversary in 2018.



A friend of mine is thinking about volunteering in Switzerland next year. Despite living there as a kid, she wants to brush up on her German.

On Facebook today, she was asking if anyone had a copy of the Rosetta Stone language program, German edition, something I’d love to have myself. Since my grandfather’s parents emigrated from Germany and the family tree is full of German ancestors, I want to learn the language.

Years ago, I discovered a poem, the Hymn of Pomerania, and wanting to translate it, I contacted the man who taught German at my high school. I never took a class with him. He had since retired, but his wife worked at the college I was attending, so we met there.

He went through it line for line, word for word with me, translating it. He introduced me to the concept of words being melded together to form extremely complex and long compound ones.

But since then, unfortunately, my cursory German studies have been overwhelmed, by duties and obligations and life. I really wanted to take some classes in college, but it was only offered every other year, and then outright eliminated during a round of budget cuts. Instead, I took two terms of French.

My friend’s post has inspired me again. I started poking around online, looking for German language learning resources. The BBC has some material.

“German is considered a difficult language to study by English learners, with its long and winding words . . . ”

It’s those compound words again!

“German is a very descriptive language. Nouns, especially, often combine the object with the activity.”

Look at the word for vacuum cleaner: der Staubsauger. It consists of the noun Staub, meaning dust, and the verb saugen, meaning to suck. Thus, the literal translation of the word is dustsucker! Reminds me of Sergio Leone’s Duck, You Sucker! Gotta love any language that merges words with such aplomb.

I still want to study German in a class setting. Makes it so much easier. So, here’s to me learning German, the language of my forefathers.


State Champs

My great grandmother, Geneva Darling, with a group of high school friends in 1910.
My great grandmother, Geneva Darling, with a group of high school friends in 1910.

Tonight, while chatting with my uncle in New Hampshire, I learned that my great grandmother played center on her high school basketball team. Her school, Lake Preston, was state champs multiple years.

The game was different then. After every score, the teams returned to center court for another jump ball. Being about five foot eight, tall for the time, Grandma Hay and the Lake Preston team had the advantage more often than not.

The uniforms I don’t know about, but I can imagine some sort of bloomers or something similar, perhaps akin to full body swimsuits.

I’ll have to look it up. I hope there are some photos and news accounts out there.