The Stewarts in front of their house. Notice the shiny windows; this family photo must have been an occasion. My great-grandfather Robert Parnell Stewart is second from left.
Great-great-grandmother Nancy Pilkington Stewart, children younger. This is probably the 1890s. Robert’s head above younger brother. The Pilkington line seems the source of this generation’s notable ears.
Two sisters, one brother; the theme is probably the three eldest.
Into the 1920s, gathered on the family farm.
Stewart Family information
Charles Harry Stewart (great-great grandfather) born April 2, 1840-died October 22, 1890, birthplace Argyle, New York, married in Centralia, Illinois, died in Evansville, Indiana, a workplace accident (jostled off a railcar full of gravel that was being backed up to dump it, Charles being rolled along under the train’s wheels, severe injuries to head and extremities).
Worked as railroad machinist on Louisville and Nashville line. Served in Company D, 11th regiment, Illinois volunteer cavalry, September 24, 1861 to September 30, 1865. Civil War veteran. Enlistment papers describe him as 5 foot 6 inches tall, blue eyes, black hair.
(Father James A. Stewart; Mother Laura Brown)
Nancy Ann Pilkington (great-great grandmother) born April 1, 1850 Knoxville, Tennessee, married July 31, 1867, Centralia, Illinois. Died March 10, 1925, Salem, Illinois.
(Father John Pilkington; Mother Nancy Martin)
Signed for widow’s pension with mark (illiterate).
Some Foster family photos from early times (at least the 1960s)
Me as a newborn
A family group, maybe taken Grandpa and Evelyn’s (Foster) in Mt. Vernon, Illinois
A family group outside our house on Shannon Avenue, Athens, Ohio. I may have been wearing my white Go-Go boots, (a coveted item).
My mother dressed up for some occasion, in the late 1960s.
My sister Tracy and me (Stephanie), dressed up for the same occasion. I remember this seafoam dress, that I loved, and for being the little sister, I felt like I got the best of the deal that time, not liking my sister’s party dress as well as my own.
Ed cat gets his daily walk, which amounts mostly to him sitting on the back stoop and sniffing the air, listening to the birds and squirrels. The daily routine is to take him out and afterwards fill the feeder, so when Ed appears, a lot of activity starts up among the birds, giving him a good show.
This is the ground feeder. Birds, chipmunks and squirrels too, like feeders that are placed to give them shelter, and many, cardinals and sparrows among them, have a strong preference for feeding on the ground. What the owls catch at night, I don’t know. Only some mice and flying squirrels are nocturnal among small rodent prey that I know of, but some days I find numbers of owl pellets like these.
In 1968 the Hocking River flooded in the city of Athens, Ohio. This is my mother paddling at the back of the canoe, me, my brother Tim, and my sister Tracy with the other paddle. We are not far outside our front door, a bit of one of two blue spruce trees that marked our house can be seen at the left.
This is the house I grew up in on South Shannon Avenue. In later years, when decks got to be fashionable, my Dad put one on the back, so there was a little more character. The house was pretty much just a box all round. By the way, this is an ordinary photo taken in the 70s, that as you can see has faded this badly. So, remember, if you have a box of old pictures, you should digitalize them as soon as possible.
I’ve been reading archived newspapers from 1979, a time in my life when I didn’t pay too much attention to world events. Now that I’m doing my bit for recorded history, I enjoy reminding myself, or educating myself, on vaguely remembered moments from the years I actually lived through. I came across a piece in the New York Times, that had Senator John Glenn being shown the facade of a Washington building, and told by his guide that there was more radiation emanated by the granite than was detectable in the air around Three Mile Island (the accident occurred March 28, 1979).
That made me curious about my favorite garden rock, above. I learned, doing a little research, that pink and red granites give off more than greys and blacks—a combination of radon gas and gamma rays, chiefly. Unfortunately, a Geiger counter won’t detect levels in granite reliably, if at all, due to ordinary background radiation in the environment. And the other machines, for non-professionals, are too expensive to buy. So I guess I’ll never know how powerful my pink rock is.
(If you have granite countertops, don’t worry. Here is a PDF from the Health Physics Society explaining more.)
Above, a thing you don’t see often, since birds of prey don’t walk on the ground. But they do rocket down from the treetops onto passing squirrels and rabbits. At night, I seem to have a lot of owl activity around my ground feeder as well, to judge by the number of pellets I find. I don’t know what comes out, whether it’s mice or flying squirrels…but whatever they are, they aren’t very wary. The owls seem to be picking them off constantly.
It is walled with the money we meant to have saved
And the pleasures for which we grieve.
The kind words unspoken, the promises broken,
And many a coveted boon,
Are stowed away there in that land somewhere—
The land of ‘Pretty Soon.’
There are uncut jewels of possible fame
Lying about in the dust,
And many a noble and lofty aim
Covered with mould and rust.
And oh this place, while it seems so near,
Is farther away than the moon;
Though our purpose is fair, yet we never get there—
To the ‘Land of ‘Pretty Soon.’
The road that leads to that mystic land
Is strewn with pitiful wrecks,
And the ships that have sailed for its shining strand
Bear skeletons on their decks.
It is farther at noon than it was at dawn,
And farther at night than at noon;
Oh let us beware of that land down there—
The land of ‘Pretty Soon.’
1899, ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
To ask why evil exists here below is to ask why a contingent being is not an absolute being, why man is not God.
From History of Jefferson County
A great deal of clothing was made of deerskin before the raising of cotton and flax. The first efforts to tan the hides were almost a failure. A new effort, however, was introduced, which was much better. This was, after removing the hair, the skins were thoroughly rubbed and dressed with brains. They were then stretched on stakes driven into the ground around a large hole, and the hole was filled with light and rotten wood, which was set on fire. The warmth caused the brains and oil to permeate the skins and the smoke gave them a beautiful color. Tanned in this way, they were said to be very soft and pliant, and were handsome.
An anecdote of Judge G. W. Wall, born in Chillicothe, Ohio, April 22, 1839, moved in infancy to Perry County, Illinois.
He was attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad, and while thus acting, a good story is told of him. He was called upon to attend a case at Effingham for the railroad, which had been sued by a citizen for the value of stock killed by defendants’ train. The venerable and every-ready O. B. Ficklin was prosecuting the company, together with some other attorney whose name is not now remembered. The evidence was heard, and counsel went to the jury. The plaintiff’s case was opened by Ficklin’s associate, who indulged in considerable bunkum and bombast about giant corporations, etc. After he closed, Wall replied for the defense, and during the course of his remarks compared the gentleman who had preceded him to Dickens’s famous character of “Sergeant Buzfuz”, and, as he thought, completely annihilated the gentleman, and left nothing to be done but for the jury to return a verdict for the defendant, and thus closed his case.
It was now time for Ficklin to make the closing argument for the plaintiff, and after speaking to the testimony and the law, he concluded in the following vein of pathetic and injured innocence:
“And now, gentlemen of the jury, it becomes my painful duty to reply to the malignant and uncalled for attack upon one of the best men this country ever produced; a man who has long since slept with his fathers, and upon whose character no man, until today, has dared to cast the shadow of suspicion. I allude, gentlemen of the jury, to the attack of my young friend Wall, upon the memory of that good and kind man, Sergeant Buzfuz. Gentlemen, it was not, perhaps, your privilege, as it was mine, to have known him personally. I remember him well, in the early and trying times of this country. He first assisted to cut out the roads through this county. He was the early pioneer, who was ever ready and willing, with honest heart, and active hand, to aid a friend or brother in distress. In fact, gentlemen of the jury, there are few men, living or dead, that this country owes more to than it does to my old friend Sergeant Buzfuz. It is true, gentlemen, that he was somewhat uncouth and blunt in his way, but his every action, I assure you, was prompted by a noble and honest motive. He was not blessed with the brilliant and accomplished education of my young friend. He, gentlemen of the jury, wore no starched shirt or fine neckties; he was humble and retired. In his leather leggings and hunting shirt he went about the country, not as a rich representative of a railroad monopoly, but as an humble citizen doing good to his fellow-man. His bones have long since moldered into dust; the sod grows green over his grave; his work is done, and he is gone from among us to return no more forever; and I was surprised to hear his just and amiable character attacked in the manner it has been on this occasion; and it is impossible for me, his last remaining friend, to permit it to go by unnoticed. And to you, sir [turning to Wall, who was by this time completely dumbfounded], I say no better man ever lived than he whom you have so unjustly abused. Youth, sir, should have more respect for the men who have made life pleasant for those who come after them, than to assail their character in the manner you have done”; and thus he continued until his close, with great earnestness, and the utmost apparent sincerity. At its close, the jury could hardly wait until they could write their verdict for the full amount of damages claimed by the plaintiff, and, it is said, so worked up were they that Wall had difficulty in escaping personal violence.
The first street my family lived on in Athens (Ohio) was Grosvenor. The house was on a hillside, and had underneath, where the structure was built to overhang—so the house would sit more or less level—soft loamy dirt, that was always dry and made a place to play.
Since my grandparents had worked in the Mount Vernon, Illinois, public school system, we had a lot of old schoolbooks around the house. By the time I was in first grade, where kids began learning to read, I’d had a head start; and a lot of the reading I did was Dick and Jane. My first grade class had a Dick and Jane workbook; the characters in those days still in use for teaching.
They way we played pretend games, we had to choose who to identify with. I don’t recall if we specifically played Dick and Jane. I know we played Star Trek, a cool show that came on after bedtime, that we had to beg to watch. (My sister liked Chekov, and I had to be Captain Kirk, though I liked Riley, who was barely a character—because we had childish rules that two of us couldn’t like the same actor…but, readers, Mark Goddard all the way on Lost in Space, even though my sister claimed him. She let me have Colonel Foster on UFO. And note, the women on sci-fi shows didn’t get to do much, so it’s unsurprising in imagination we would rather have been the crew members allowed to explore planets.)
At any rate, in this hierarchy, I was the little sister, Sally. One of our cats of those days was named Puff.
And, coming full circle, I can recall marveling that the name pronounced “Grovner” could be spelled the way it was—but I wasn’t school age during the year or two we lived on that street. I think my sister was the one who could read the sign, and that was how I got the information, though I remember looking up at it and seeing the name in letters.
Here’s a page from one of my favorite books from childhood, Piet Worm’s Three Little Horses, a somewhat odd story about an artist who befriends horses, and takes them into town dressed as women—but a story terrifically illustrated.
Books in the Athens Middle School library
Favorite books some of you may remember. The first grouping were my own discoveries, and the second, books my sister read first and recommended. They are all look-upable, so I’ve written very brief descriptions of the plots.
Why Not Join the Giraffes, Hope Campbell, 1970
Girl tries to impress boy by adopting rebellious look.
The Whirling Shapes, Joan North, 1968
Girl has power to stop mysterious force.
The Apple Stone, Nicholas Stuart Gray, 1965
Siblings find magic object, adventures ensue.
The Power of Stars, Louise Lawrence, 1972
Visit by alien force causes havoc for teenage friends.
The Ghost of Opalina, Peggy Bacon, 1967
Family is aided through generations by cat’s ghost.
Campion Towers, John and Patricia Beatty, 1965
During English Civil War, girl on Roundhead side has cavalier adventures.
A Candle in Her Room, Ruth M. Arthur, 1966
Haunted doll causes trouble for newly arrived family.
My Darling My Hamburger, Paul Zindel, 1969
Pregnant teen gets abortion.
Knee-Deep in Thunder, Sheila Moon, 1967
Girl travels to tiny world, where her friends are insects.