Thursday, December 30, 2010

On This Day: December 30

My paternal 2nd great-grandmother, Ellender Vickers, was born on December 30, 1820, in Georgia.[Source: Notes provided by Archie Spurlock, 1996.] I have not been able to determine her parents. She died on November 11, 1906, and is buried in the Mt. Zion (Driskill) Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery, in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. The dates on her grave marker are incorrect; the style of the marker reflects a later design.

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On This Day: December 29

Houston Taylor Owens and Sherreldia Jane Hammontree, one set of my paternal 2nd great-grandparents, were married on December 29, 1841, probably in Alabama. [Source: Hugh Hammontree, Family Group Sheet, prepared by George R. Park.]

[photo courtesy of Theressa Horton]

Houston and Sherreldia had 15 children: Andrew, Nancy, Missouri, Dialtha, Rachel, Hughes, Rebecca, Thomas, Gabriel, Sarah, Steward, Sarilda, John, Charles, and Belzora. I am descended through their 3rd daughter, Dialtha.

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On This Day: December 25

James B. Forshee, one of my paternal 2nd great-grandfathers, was born on December 25, 1810, in Tennessee, the son of John Forshee and Agnes Weston. He died June 28, 1878, and is buried in Hopewell Cemetery in Washington County, Missouri. [Source:, digital images ( : accessed 10 Mar 2010), entry for James Forshee, Find A Grave Memorial# 526892.]

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus

Mom clipped this from a newspaper (don't know which one). She loved this story and the sentiments are timeless!
Virginia's letter to the editor:

The editor's response:
My best wishes to all for a glad Holiday Season!

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On This Day: December 21

My maternal 11th great- grandfather, George Booth, was born on December 21, 1515, the son of George Booth and Elizabeth Butler. [Source: Joiner, Rev. Darrell and Sallyann (, “Cary Family History.”]

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Monday, December 20, 2010

Never Trust the Box!

Do you poke around the Christmas tree looking for gifts with your name on them? When you find one, do you pick it up and shake it, sniff it, listen to it? Most of us do, which is why we have family traditions related to the wrapping and labeling of gifts.
My oldest recollection is when I was about 8 years old and we were living in Fairbanks, Alaska. There was a good-sized gift for me under the tree. When I opened it, I was disappointed to find a case of Camp Fire Girl mints! Not that I don't like candy, but I had been selling these for a while and was tired of them. Mama and Daddy just smiled and suggested I open the box. Inside was a pair of beautiful white ice skates! Lesson learned: NEVER trust the box.
Some of the unusual ways presents have been disguised: 
  • a stuffed Smurf with a can of refried beans in a shoebox.
  • a skateboard wrapped up in a sleeping bag in a big box.
  • an I-Pod wrapped and then put in another box, wrapped and put in another box, get the idea.
  • a watch sealed up in a can. (In the early 80s, there were kiosks in the mall where you could have this done....where's the can opener?)
Anything you can do to disguise the size, shape, or weight of the box will cause the "snoopers" hours of frustration and much laughter on Christmas morning!
And when you've finished wrapping, you have to put a tag on the gift so it gets to the right person. But why would anyone in their right mind reveal the identity of the giver? Of course, there are gifts from Santa and Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, the elves. But it's the Sugar Plum Fairy (aka SPF) who brings the gifts that get opened on Christmas Eve (always new jammies so you will look your best on Christmas morn!). And an amazing variety of folks have delivered gifts to our home: George Burns, Johnny Depp's wife, Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jack Skellington, and any number of actors, directors, and musical artists.
If you remember a particular gift-wrapping technique or gift-giver, post it in the comments section!

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On This Day: December 15

Matilda Gandy, one of my maternal 3rd great-grandmothers, was born on December 15, 1801, in Cumberland County, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Henry Harris Gandy, Sr., and Tamson Garrison. Matilda died on July 21, 1853, and is buried in Maskill Cemetery in Union County, Ohio. [Source: Joiner, Rev. Darrell and Sallyann (, “Cary Family History.”]

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On This Day: December 14

Mary Gilbert, one of my 6th great-grandmothers on my mother’s side, was born on December 14, 1712. She died on October 12, 1791. [Source: Joiner, Rev. Darrell and Sallyann (, “Cary Family History.”]

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Saturday, December 11, 2010

On This Day: December 11

In 1794, John Forshee and Agnes Weston were married in Greene County, Tennessee. Here is a copy of the register showing their marriage (fifth entry):
[Source: Tennessee State Library and Archives, Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, Greene Co., 1795, January: 68, 355, John Forshey-Agnes Weston; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 15 Jan 2010).]

They had 12 children: Richard, Jesse, Margaret, James, Ruthie, Robert, John, Joseph, Jane, George, Valentine, and Mahala.

John and Agnes are my 3rd great grandparents on my paternal side; I am descended from their son James.

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On This Day: December 9

In 1802, Arad Franklin, parents unknown, was born in New York. [Source: Mrs. Willis Holloway, "Arad Franklin and Nancy White," Franklin Family Researchers United, Vol. 5, page 37, Jan. 1993; accessed online, : 2010.)  

Arad died in 1897 in Union County, Ohio. He is my 3rd great-grandfather on my maternal side.

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Counting Get-Ups

Today a friend of a friend posted that there are 18 "sleeps" until Christmas. This reminded me that, when son Chris was a child, we would count "getups" until Christmas (or whatever other special occasion was coming up). Do you remember how you counted down the days? Post a comment if you do.

Chris, Denise, Krishawna and Shawn - Christmas 2009

© 2010 Denise Spurlock

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Candy, Cookies, and Pie! Oh My!

Last week's post about holiday feasts was just a warm-up. The only reason to eat all that good-for-you food is to get to the desserts!
Candy is a staple for the holidays. Up first - chocolate cherries! My niece Leah recently posted on her Facebook page that she was making chocolate cherries for the holidays. I admire her desire to create this delectable treat, but I will continue to buy mine at the local drugstore. Mama always made fudge and divinity for Christmas. Divinity has all but disappeared from the candy plate, but fudge is still a big favorite. My sister Deanna makes a traditional fudge, usually with walnuts, and Jennifer makes a creamy variety with a special ingredient. (No, I won't tell the secret.) In addition to chocolate cherries, my favorite store-bought Christmas candy is ribbon candy which is getting hard to find. Remember how you would suck on it until the ribbons were like little razors cutting the inside of your mouth?
Cookies were not such a big part of our holidays, but I needed the word to make the blog title work! I have had a love affair with cranberries for some years now and am always looking for a new cranberry cookie recipe. The current favorite is cranberry hootycreeks -- a cookie made with white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and nuts (sometimes pecans, sometimes macadamia nuts). Last year my granddaughter Krishawna and I spent an entire day baking cookies to give as gifts; we made chocolate chip, cranberry hootycreeks, peanut butter, sugar, gingersnaps, and a couple other kinds I can't remember right now.
On to dessert number three - pie! Mama made her pumpkin pie using the recipe from the back of the pumpkin can, with an extra egg and TRIPLE the spices. Once you've eaten it, no other pumpkin pie can compare. The less traditional pie that Mama made and that I make for almost every special day (from the winter holidays to birthdays) is lemon meringue pie. A favorite for many of us, it makes your mouth pucker! I spent quite a bit of time on the internet looking for a recipe that replicates that wonderful tartness that Mama's pie always had.
I do believe that having a sweet tooth is an inherited condition!
© 2010 Denise Spurlock