Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Mary Elizabeth Murdock April 10, 2017

bennett-mr               IMG_0013   My paternal grandfather Major Charles Dana Miller – this is the man my grandmother Mary Elizabeth Murdock married in 1882.  He fought in the Civil War – Mary Elizabeth Murdock was born in 1863.  So the man who was to be my grandfather was a soldier fighting in the Civil War when my grandmother was born.

Mary married a man many years her senior.  How did this come about?  Family rumor has it that she went West in 1880 from Crown Point New York to Mt. Vernon Ohio to look after Charles’s young children after their mother died.

IMG_0014  Mary Elizabeth Murdock, 1882 (?)

Charles was born in 1836.  So he was 27 years older than Mary.  He was a widower with 2 children.  They married in Chicago in November 1882.

Questions – how did this sequence of events happen?

Well, Mary went West shortly after her own mother died and also her younger sister.  A time of sorrow and upset.  Mary had recently graduated from Albany Normal School (State Teachers College) – so she was a qualified teacher.

But my research in ancestry.com reveals that when Charles’ wife died the children were young teens, age 14 and 13, not infants needing a carer.  So if she went West to be a carer she would have been more of a housekeeper than a nanny, and possibly a tutor for the children.

And furthermore, there were Murdocks who had previously migrated from Crown Point New York to Mt Vernon Ohio.


My Grandfather’s Funeral January 17, 2016

trinity episcopal newark  Trinity Episcopal Church Newark Ohio

My paternal grandfather, Major Charles Dana Miller, died on Saturday evening July 23 1898 at *Cedar Cliffs*.in Newark Ohio.  The obituary was printed in the local newspaper the following Monday and the funeral service was held at the Newark Episcopal Church at 10 a.m. on the Tuesday.  The Rev F B Nash officiated.  Mourners were his wife of 18 years and their 5 children – Myrtle, Dana, Ruth, Joseph, and Roy.  My father Joseph had just celebrated his 7th birthday.

(Source:: Newark Daily Advocate Monday July 25 1898).


Another Book Store April 22, 2011

Filed under: Book stores,History,U. S. History,U.S. Civil War,Weavers,Weaving — Janet @ 10:46 pm

I didn’t get a photo of another book store that we went to in Scottsdale, but in our wandering the streets of Old Scottsdale we spotted a big sign which directed us to Guidon Books, a few blocks away.  They had recently moved  so we emerged from the shade, crossed several very wide streets and walked several blocks.  It was hot.  The heat was just shimmering up off the pavement in mid-afternoon.  But Guidon Books was well worth the trek – for me at least.  I don’t think the rest of the family was quite so interested.  I found some Civil War replica postcards which I quite liked – and I found a book on tapestry weaving.  And a brochure about the Arizona History Convention to be held very soon – too late to attend this year but the list of papers to be given looks very interesting.  Next year, 2012, will be Arizona’s centenary.  It is just amazing to me that Arizona only became a state, the 48th, 100 years ago, the year my mother was born.  I feel a part of living history!

  Guidon Books – they have moved a few blocks to a nicely shaded building, many interconnecting rooms, but we only browsed the Civil War area.  Further afield, I think, were the Western Americana books that I really wanted to see.  Hope there will be a next time.  This was really just a reconnaissance.

   a replica Civil War postcard – a  scene from the Gettysburg Cyclorama.  Hospital Scene.  A surgeon amputates the leg of a wounded man in the shed on the right.

   brochure for the upcoming Arizona History Convention.  I was told that Guidon Books will have a stall.

  my book purchase – a new book about tapestry weaving.


Abraham Lincoln and My Grandmother’s Poem January 24, 2011

I have been writing about my grandmother’s little book of poetry, Late Flowers, written when she was in her 70’s.  The poem I want to quote today is her tribute to Abraham Lincoln.  Having lived overseas for so long I had kind of forgotten my U.S. history or maybe my history lessons slipped to the back of the queue in my brain.  Whatever, now being back in the U.S. on a more permanent basis I am refreshing and renewing my interest in matters historical on this side of the Atlantic.  I recently read the book Manhunt, the 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killers, by James L. Swanson.  One thing that struck me about the book was the fervor with which people reacted to the Assassination.  Abraham Lincoln is an icononic figure in U.S. history but in part it was the fact that he was assassinated that elevated him to such a prominent position.  Now I find a poem written by my grandmother long after Lincoln’s time.  My grandmother was only 2 years old when John Wilkes Booth fired that shot.  But in less than 20 years, in 1882, she married a man who had served his country faithfully in the U.S. Civil War and would have been a Lincoln supporter.  So in that way, by marriage, she was certainly a woman of that era.  Here is her tribute, written in the late 1930’s.


Of the soil a son, yet apart from man he stood,

Although to hew the wood and plow the field

His hands he trained.  His neighbours saw in him

Naught but the country rustic akin to them.

They did not see behind that thoughtful brow

The soul of beauty and the brain of power,

Which as the slow years wound along their way

Urged him to read and study, reaching ever

To those high realms of which the common soul

Knows not, nor cares.  Then came the time of stress.

The man arose and into those brown hands

Received the Nation’s cares.  Prepared was he

By years of toil and grief and by the greatness of his soul

For this vast trust, and through the darkest time

The Nation e’er has seen, he strode upon his way

Ever faithful to his duty, striking the shackles

From slavery’s bleeding limbs; turning ever

At call of human misery to give his aid.

In all the earth before was ever such a man?

He had the understanding of the warrior

Who conquers all upon the battlefield;

He had the wisdom of the statesman who can guide

The Ship of State through perils of the storm,

And over and above his courage and his lore

He had the love and sympathy for all mankind

Which, stronger than his other gifts, will ever

Bind our souls to him in love and veneration.

His work is done.  We know him now and lay

Upon his brow the hero’s laurel.  Ever his life,

So simple and so great, shall be to us a call

To do and dare and suffer for the right.


Hong Kong Reading May 29, 2010

Filed under: Books,Reading,Social history,U.S. Civil War — Janet @ 9:12 am

A week ago I started reading Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

My plan was to get it started before I left Dublin and then to be immersed in it for the long journey.  Things didn’t quite work out that way.  I read very little on the plane but have been reading intensively here in Hong Kong, in between shopping trips etc.  This morning I reached p. 1010, The End.  What a wonderful book.  The last chapter just drew all the strands together of this majestic novel.  An historical romance – with attitude!  Yes, it was a soap opera but I don’t mean that in a derogatory way.  I think it is a splendid book with the characters beautifully drawn and skillfully developed.

As I read that book this week I couldn’t put it aside and read something about Hong Kong instead.  However I have acquired some books more appropriate to the history and setting of Hong Kong and will get to them in due course.  That should be now, but no, one of my new books is Alfred & Emily, by Doris Lessing – a book published in 2008 but it had escaped my notice.  Doris Lessing is one of my favourite authors of all time so a new book by her is my next choice.      

The time scape of this Doris Lessing book is appropriate to my interests in recent history.  Alfred & Emily is about Doris Lessing’s parents who lived in the early years of the 20th century, a generation or two after the characters in Gone With the Wind and in a different part of the world.  But the theme of war and its destructive consequences runs parallel.