Thursday, March 17, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: St. Patrick's Day and Nani's Birthday, March 18

On St. Patrick's Day this year,  I wore a vibrant solid green dress with the necklace pictured at left (the green highlights are reflections off my dress).  It was given to me by my maternal grandmother, "Nani," Sara Melzina Wolfe Guokas Archibald, shortly after the Wolfe Family Reunion on June 28, 1997, in Montgomery, Texas (more on that in another post).  My husband and I went out to eat in the evening and he commented that the necklace must be solid gold or at least gold-plated, because I leave it hanging with other necklaces in my closet and it never needs polishing.  It's very typical of Nani to give me something that is quite valuable.

I will wear it on March 18 too in honor of what would have been Nani's 104th birthday. 
I've written about my grandmother before in this blog (click on her name above); most recently about her cooking.

I missed Nani's 90th birthday party on March 23, 2007, in Houston (I was going through a messy divorce in Washington state at the time and could not afford to go), but I did make it to the family reunion that summer.  The photo below is of family members who were at that surprise birthday party, along with at least 40 of her friends. On November 16 of that same year, she passed away from giant cell lymphoma.  I still miss her.

About a month ago, I was contacted by a Wolfe descendant who saw my post about the Wolfe surname, and that prompted a lot of recent research on Wolfes that you'll be reading about here.
Front row:  Karen Pape holding Madison Pape, Amber Ely, Nick and Debbie Reynolds Pape, Chase Engel.
Second row: Jason Ely, Sara Wolfe Guokas Archibald, Gerrie Guokas Pape, Sister Jean Marie Guokas.
Third row: Carole Ely and Eddie Dillow, Pat Dean Ely, Bobbie Brown, Rowena Knox Hackfield, Edith Wolfe Knox.
Top row:  Louis Ely; Mary, Mark, Brian and Fred Pape; Leon Hackfield; Dee Knox.


© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: James Shannon Wolfe, 1870-1949

photo by Gale Green Brister, from FindAGrave.com
James Shannon Wolfe  is my great-grandfather Louis Henry Wolfe's older brother. There's some confusion about when he was born.

He's not on the 1870 census with his parents and older sister Emma (born 1869), which was taken in July.  He's listed as age 8 on the 1880 census, taken in June.  Both of these censuses were in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and show Shannon and his parents as born in Pennsylvania.

In 1900, he and his wife of five years, Annie (nee Volce) and two daughters are living with his step-father-in-law Victor Guerrero, in Houston, Texas.  Shannon's birth is listed as April 1873, and his parents are listed as having been born in Ohio, so it's pretty clear he wasn't there to answer the census-taker's questions.  He is shown to be a bricklayer.

In the 1910 census, taken in April, the family is living at 1405 Allston in Houston.  Shannon's age could be 41, 42, or 44; it's hard to read.  He's now a brickwork contractor.  Oddly enough, he and Annie are both shown as being on their second marriages and only married nine years.  However, Annie has given birth to three children, all living (son Joseph Shannon joined the family in 1902).

The 1920 census was taken in January, and the family is still at 1405 Allston.  Shannon is listed as age 55, meaning he could have been born as early as 1865!.  But then, his parents are listed as being born in Texas, which is also wrong.  He is still a brickmason.  Shannon's wife Annie and three grown/nearly-grown children are also at home.  Shannon's brother Louis, my great-grandfather, and his four children are also living in the home, after they were all abandoned by my great-grandmother.

The 1930 census was taken in April.  Shannon and Annie are empty-nesters at the same house.  Shannon is listed as James S., age 61, but he's still a bricklayer.   The Texas Death Index shows that James Shannon Wolfe died February 6, 1949, and that matches the date on his gravestone.  His son was the informant on the death certificate and gives James Shannon's birthdate as October 24, 1868, but the names and birthplaces of his parents are not listed - which makes me think the informant may not been sure of the birth year either. 

Until I can find more evidence, I think James Shannon Wolfe was born in 1870.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hurricane Allen 1980 - 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Disasters

Painted on boarded-up windows of downtown stores.
The prompt for Week 10 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is Disasters:

Did you experience any natural disasters in your lifetime? Tell us about them.

Having spent most of the first 26 years of my life on or near coastal Texas, in Houston and Corpus Christi, hurricanes were often a threatening, impending disaster.  I vaguely remember Dad hammering plywood up over the windows when I was young in preparation for various storms.  But the one I remember most was Hurricane Allen in 1980.

This was a scary storm to watch approaching in satellite photos.  The storm was HUGE, a Category 5 at most times, and completely filled the Gulf of Mexico.  Corpus Christi residents began to prepare.
Mark's boat, The Wagon, up on blocks on Shoreline Blvd.
I was living in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor at the time, with only a large sliding glass door in the living room and a smaller window in the bedroom, both opening onto a balcony.  I put tape on the smaller window, and pushed my huge, heavy mahogany buffet in front of the sliding glass door.  Mark took his sailboat, a 22-foot Catalina called The Wagon, and had it pulled out of the City Marina and put up on blocks in the parking lot of a city building on adjacent Shoreline Boulevard.  This was a gamble that the storm would hit south of the city, which was how it was tracking at the time, and which turned out to be the case (the storm came ashore just north of Brownsville, which was about 124 miles south). If the storm had hit head-on or north of us, his boat could have been blown to bits. But by pulling it out, he avoided the damage many others suffered.

The storm came ashore late Saturday and early Sunday, August 9-10.  There was a storm surge up to 12 feet high, flooding, and wind damage.  The sounds of the storm were very frightening.  We spent most of it in the basement of the police headquarters, up on the Bluff, answering phone calls from panicked citizens.


Monday, August 11, I went back to work - at the time, I was with the city's Park and Recreation Department. The power was out and it was hot and humid, so I wore shorts and a t-shirt to work. The first order of business was pushing a couple inches of water out of our offices (one block off the seawall) - I used a downed parking sign to push water.  The wind and waves pushed boats in the marina up against the seawall.

Later that day I rode out with our parks superintendent to take photos of damage on Corpus Christi Beach (aka North Beach), where more than 200 buildings (about 75%) were destroyed and two people drowned (the only deaths directly attributable to the storm).  Other parks damage included many fishing piers and the destruction of the City Marina office:
After the storm, I spent some time as the City's liaison to a Red Cross Disaster Relief Center in Ben Garza Gym. Mark spent the next three years dealing with FEMA.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Abram Wolfe, 1855 - 1907

OK, so this really isn't a tombstone, but it's not an obituary, either. Abram/Abraham Wolfe was the eighth and youngest child of William C. Wolfe (1820-1855) and Melinda Jane Smallwood Wolfe Peden (1823-1875), my third great-grandparents on my maternal grandmother's side. In fact, he was born almost two months after his father died, on May 30, 1855. He was raised by his stepfather, William Peden (born 1830), and spent most of the early years of his life in the community of California, in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

He married Emma J. Hoak (1869-1917) in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on April 25, 1895. The 1900 census shows them living in Pittsburg in the same county, with son Elmer O'Neil Wolfe (1896-1964). His occupation is shown as "steamboat mate."

I had heard that Abram had drowned, but did not know the circumstances.  A Google search on "abram wolfe drowned" pulled up the Reports of the [United States] Department of Commerce and Labor from 1909:


He died March 24, 1907, but I don't know if or where Abram is buried.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.