52 Ancestors Week 20: Nature

+16 votes

imageReady for Week 20 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

Please share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches this week's theme:


From Amy Johnson Crow:

The theme for Week 20 is "Nature." Any farmers or gardeners in the family? How about someone who simply loved to be out in nature? How about an ancestor with a nature-inspired first name or surname?


Share below!

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker
52 Ancestors Week 20 - Nature

When I was living in California, my ex in-laws loved to go camping. They would leave either Thursday or early Friday and go up to the mountains, and we would follow them Friday after work.

You need to know that I am the last person you would think would love to go camping. I like the finer things in life - like a toilet and bathtub. Ona and Bob had a beautiful very large 5th wheel.  We had the top of the line tent. Big enough to fit two adults and an adolescent boy, who didn't really want to be there. We didn't sleep on the ground - oh no - not us. We slept on cots. And Ona crocheted afghans for us, so we would be warm. Every weekend we would trek up the mountain and spend our time - the boys fishing, Ona and I crocheting and cooking - then cleaning up. My son complaining that he didn't want to be there. Sunday's we would rush home. Oh - and I forgot to tell you that I had a side job, doing medical transcriptions for a Doctor.  Since I lost three days (a weekend) because we enjoyed ourselves camping, I had to hurry when we got home, cook supper, get all of the clothes clean, and type as much transcription as I could, so I wouldn't be so far behind.

I guess my ex-husband finally got the hint. After that first year of laying out in the rain and the cold, we went shopping for a 5th Wheel. We ended up with a very nice 35' one. And I made sure it had a bathtub. I also made sure I was able to hook up my electric typewriter. (Is this dating me a little).

After that - camping under God's beautiful Moon in the great mountains of California was a lot more fun. I think my son even enjoyed it more.  He had his own bunk room in the camper.

So this nature lover enjoyed the next five years of camping until I moved back to Illinois.
I come from a family of farmers/ranchers. My paternal grandparents owned a farm in Comstock, Nebraska...another family farm in Batesland, S.D. One of my paternal aunts had a sheep farm in Casper WY. I remember when I was 3 years young, of visiting one of the farms in the spring. The barn stalls were filled with every kind of baby farm animals, plus puppies & kittens. My uncles and cousins raised cattle. My father left Comstock shortly after he graduated from high school (c1935) , to help one of his sisters (who lived in Akron, Ohio) with raising her daughter after her first husband died. It was a joyous time when my family left Akron to visit with our western relatives. Growing up watching  Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Kit Carson, etc. WE WERE GOING TO VISIT THEIR STOMPING GROUNDS!. They all had their vegetable gardens. We, (in Akron) only had a two lot yard, but we ALWAYS had our 16'x24' vegetable garden filled with produce. I helped my mom can vegetables & fruit every summer. As dad got older, I took over the gardening chores. LOVED IT! That's one of the things I miss now.

55 Answers

+19 votes

Growing up in Oklahoma, I had four great uncles that were farmers outside of Enid. My great uncle Ed Long https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Long-13261 got a bunch of attention when he grew a100 lb. watermelon, and it was in the Enid newspaper. His brother was rather jealous of the attention, so he grew a 20 lb. cantaloupe. 

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (324k points)
Wow! Those are some huge melons!
Yes Nelda, I wonder how they tasted. This happened when I was a teen,  and the only reason I remember is because of my grandmother getting such a laugh about her brothers competing to get their pictures in the newspaper.
+16 votes
The green thumb in my family belonged to my paternal grandfather Reuben. When he retired he built a permaculture garden in his back yard that fed not only him and my grandmother, but anyone who happened to visit. He was particularly good with rhubarb and green beans. No pesticides were used, and he made his own compost.
by Rob Judd G2G6 Mach 9 (93.0k points)
Reuben would have been an excellent neighbor to have since he was so willing to share the bounty of his garden.
+18 votes

Nature will quickly catch you at sea when you find out the coal you are carrying from Liverpool England to San Francisco has spontaneously combusted in the hold and your clipper ship is on fire. Capt William Freeman, born in 1820, the eldest son of William and Martha (Simonds) Freeman of Brewester, Cape Cod tells the story.  

The New York Times  November 15, 1874, Wednesday    SHIPS BURNED AT SEA.; DISASTERS OCCASIONED BY SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION OF COAL.THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SHIP MOGUL, OF BOSTON STATEMENT BY CAPT. FREEMAN, ITS COMMANDER.  The schooner Greyhound, which arrived at San Francisco, Nov. 5, from Tahiti, brought as passengers Capt. W. Freeman, of the Mogul, and eighteen seamen, survivors of the crews of the two ill-fated vessels, the Mogul, and the Centaur. Capt. Freeman makes the following report of the loss of his ship:   The Mogul left Liverpool April 23, and passed Cape Horn July 2; thence to 17 deg south had continual north-westerly winds and then light south-east trades.  On Aug. 1, found the coals in the fore part of the main hatch heated and steaming.  On the 2d and 3d, trimmed the coal out of the main hatch, hoping to find the heat only local, and to get rid of the hot coals, but found them hotter as we worked down, and at 1 P.M. on the 3d, sulphurous gas and smoke burst out under the men's feet. when we immediately trimmed the coals back to the original level to smother the fire as much as possible, and at once commenced to get the boats ready for use and decided to make for the Marquesas Islands.  On the 4th the gas and smoke were forcing themselves out of all the openings aft and through the air-holes under the half-poop deck, and we thought it best to close the ship up forward to stop the draught as much as possible, and to leave the after-hatches and scuttle open for the escape of gas, fearing an explosion if we closed all up. That afternoon we got three boats hung over the starboard side, ready for use.  On the 6th we found the gas and smoke increasing very fast, and forcing their way through all openings, the effects of which turned the paint-work above the decks lead color. All hands were employed in putting canvas seizings on the boats, and making any improvement we could think of to add to their safety; and getting sails, water, and provisions ready. That evening we had the three boats fitted with masts and sails, and everything done we could think for their safety. On the 7th, in the morning, we found the gas, smoke, and heat increasing very rapidly, and, from the smell and the appearance of the smoke, it was quite certain that the woodwork of the ship was on fire. At midday, the steam was coming out from the iron bilge pumps by the side of the after port of the forward house. At 1 P.M. I called the crew together and explained to them the condition I considered the ship in, the fear I had of an explosion of gas at any moment, &c., and decided that it would be best to leave the ship before dark, knowing that there would be great risk in lowering boats and getting them away from the ship in a sea-way in the dark. 

After abandoning ship to the life boats We then started on our perilous passage of 1,400 miles to the Marquesas [Islands]. The instructions were to rendezvous at Resolution Bay, Island Santa Christiana.  With myself, in the long-boat were twelve persons, and with each of the two mates, with smaller boats, each seven persons- with provisions in each boat, if carefully used, to last at least thirty days.  Thus, thank God, all hands are safely landed.

by L. Ray Sears G2G6 Mach 4 (40.6k points)

Looks like they had Lieutenant Murphy on board cheeky

HOly cow!  I can't even.........
How miraculous to have survived this incident!
What an ordeal...amazing they all survived.  Thanks for sharing.
+17 votes

I don't have any farmers in my ancestry but go back several generations and almost everyone was an ag lab!
I have plenty of nature related first names in my tree such as Rose, Lily, Flora, Phyllis, Daisy - why is it only girls names?
However, this week I decided to choose John Bush who is one of the furthest back ancestors I have found in the branch of my family that originates from the Hoo peninsula in Kent.
Bush - that's nature innit? wink

by Ray Hawkes G2G6 Mach 5 (50.3k points)
I love your clever take on this week's theme.
+17 votes

I have so many farmers in my family I'm usually delighted when I find the occasional ancestor who did something else! smiley

However, to stay on topic I am picking two of my great uncles, who I only found recently and I have a great source for their profession, apart from just the regular census records.  Both were born in Ireland and emigrated to the US in the 1870s and 1880s, the first becoming a teamster and being part of the original drive westwards, ending up in Siskiyou County, California.

Once in California James Rainey and his yonger brother Robert Rainey set up in business together as "Rainey Bros. - farmers" in Seiad, according to the 1885 Siskiyou County Directory.  This fascinating document lists other residents of Seiad, many of whom were miners, including one who became Robert's father-in-law.  I imagine the frontier lifestyle was pretty tough in that rugged part of California bordering Oregon and countryside that lent itself to mining could have been a challenge to farm!

by Linda Hawkes G2G6 Mach 3 (37.5k points)
I feel the same--it seems I write over and over that an ancestor was a farm by occupation. But I suppose that was a necessity. I'm happy for you that you found two new uncles and that they were so involved in expanding the US into the Western Frontier. They must have had exciting lives.
+15 votes

Just this past weekend I was working on the profile for Thomas Uzzell Jr. He was a large landowner in North Carolina. He named his homestead "Nature's Beauty" and he has become known as "Nature's Beauty Thomas" Uzzell to distinguish his from his father ("French Thomas" Uzzell) and his son ("Revolutionary Thomas" or "Bucklesberry Thomas" Uzzell.) For me, this particular individual has been difficult to write about. There is "family tradition" and then there are facts. Sources are things like land records and estate records rather than census records and death certificates and I'm getting the source information second-hand because most of the primary sources are not available for me to see online. I adopted this profile, though, because it was an orphan and because he is someone who is supposedly in my direct line and I'm trying to do him justice. (Note: I think he has a duplicate and I've proposed a merge.)

by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (287k points)
Nice answer!
Love these nicknames, Nature’s Beauty sounds like a good name for a race horse.
+16 votes

The nature lover on my tree must be Stuart Pozzi. He was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, a city boy. He came to Canada as a teen, and soon found work on a farm. At one point he freighted, usually by horse & wagon, to and from Fort Vermilion, very far north in western Canada. The call of the north was heard, and he lived in northern Alberta bush country most of the rest of his life. He attempted 3 homesteads, but was no farmer. His happy place was a log cabin in the bush that he called "the Bug house." 

by Judith Chidlow G2G6 Mach 4 (43.1k points)
What an interesting person!
+18 votes

Although, I descend from many farmers, farm labourers or even a shepherd or two, the person who stands out the most is my grandmother Mary Urquhart. She always had a garden full of plants and flowers. She even an arched grape arbour for a while and was always pointing out the prettiest and different birds to me when I was growing up.


by David Urquhart G2G6 Pilot (150k points)
Nice profile!
Your grandmother Mary sounds like a very interesting profile. I'm so glad you were able to know her and listen to her tell you about the birds. Her wedding photo is gorgeous!
Thank you Nelda and SJ.
+14 votes
Tracing my American ancestors back to the Mayflower,  A very high percentage of them were land owners and farmers.  Not sure if they loved nature, of just took advantage of nature to grow crops and / or raise animals?

One of the farmers is actually a little part of history.  Samuel Mumma, Sr owned a farm that was the scene of the Civil War Battle of Antietam.

Most of the branches of my family migrated to the Central Illinois area.  Many of them received land grants from the government as a  reward for their military service from both the revolutionary War and the civil War.
by Bill Sims G2G6 Mach 9 (95.6k points)
Thank you to your ancestors for their military service!
I have seen that site at Antietam.  Amazing place.  My third great-grandfather also received bounty land in Georgia for his War of 1812 service (after our government made the "treaty" with the Creek Nation).
+14 votes

My Dad loves nature; every vacation he ever went on, he tried to make it a nature vacation: Yosemite camping, weekend in the desert, Sunday at the beach, week-long drive and visit to the Grand Canyon.  He would always take rolls and rolls of film.  Now that we have digital, faaaaaaar too many photos to show without boring the viewer cheeky

by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
Sounds a lot like my Dad, SJ.  Except it was slides. Lots and lots of slides. ;)
Sounds like you had a wonderful dad who gave you lots of wonderful experiences.
+13 votes

Nature: there's a thousand farmers in my tree, but I'll choose the first Trueblood to set foot in America: John Trueblood.  In the summer of 1683 he arrived with is wife on the Pasquotank River in North Carolina.  While not the first settler, there weren't many there before him.  The place must have been vast swathes of virgin forest right down to the water's edge.  Imagine how intimidating the immensity of nature must have been.  And how far from home.

by Stephen Trueblood G2G6 Mach 4 (42.4k points)
You say "imagine" but I honestly cannot imagine the beauty of the untouched, pristine forests and the challenges our ancestors encountered and succeeded in overcoming. Truly, they were "superheroes" in their own right.
+12 votes
I take one of my serbian cousins. After both she and her husband retired they moved into the village where her husband grew up. There they have their own house with a huge garden where she grows many different crops. That way they have to spend less money for their living costs, which helps them a lot.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (619k points)
I really admire people who are self-sufficient in that way.
+10 votes

My husband's great grandfather Hendrik Ruckert immigrated from the Netherlands to Virginia in 1913.  Hendrik was a "nurseryman" who specialized in tulips.  He came with a partner and they built a great nursery in Oakton, Virginia.  They grew tulips (among other plants) which decorated many beautiful gardens in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (190k points)
How very interesting! Flower growers are dear to my heart. Once thought I wanted to cultivate and sell daylilies. Gosh, it's lots of work. And you just have to have the talent also. Sounds like Hendrik Ruckert had the gift.
+10 votes

52 Surnames in 52 weeks.  This week's surname is Rätz.  Anne Dorothee Rätz https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rätz-155  married Gottfried Houwe on the second of May, 1813, at Serwest, near Brodowin, in Brandenburg province, Prussia.

An opportunity to see Brodowin would be wonderful.  It is a beautiful area near the Oder River, which is the boundary between Germany and Poland.  It has extensive oak and pine woodlands, ponds, bogs and heathlands with some areas today being protected and left as wilderness. Brodowin is a village southwest of the Paarsteiner See, which takes its name from two giant stones in the lake and Serwest is a smaller village about due west of Brodowin. 

An Australian described the area thus in 1912: "Three miles from Chorin station the forest belt comes to an end suddenly, and the little village of Brodowin lies in its circle of conical hills a mile or more from the great Paarstein Lake and hard by the fragments which mark the sometime monastery of Our Lady of the Island.  The wall for defence against the Wends is broken eastwards for the passage of farm-carts; and of the chapel, removed later to Chorin, there is only a cross marking the place of the altar. Separated by bad roads and the dark forest from the railway, ensconced in a fertile hollow by a lake that is full of fish, Brodowin draws out an existence that knows neither fear nor frenzy."  

by Margaret Summitt G2G6 Pilot (130k points)
Sounds so lovely!
+10 votes
My family is full of farmers on both sides.  From Indiana County Pennsylvania, to Marietta, Ohio, to pristine Isle of Wight County, Virginia.  Isle of Wight never saw a "newcomer" to their gene pool until the 1970's.  I'm choosing my cousin, Russell Dean Edwards, (Deanie) who postponed treatment of his multiple myeloma until he could "get his crops in".  Sad... he died.  Deanie was a bachelor,  and very interested in history.  He lived near Williamsburg, and spent a good deal of time there, when he could spare it, learning about the history and culture.  He owned "Six Oaks", in Isle of Wight County, a home that was built in 1752, and on whose property Cornwallis had temporarily camped during the Revolution.  I know, if Deanie had the time, he would have loved genealogy, and that side of my family would be SO MUCH BETTER KNOWN, because Deanie listened to all the old folks.  I miss Deanie.
by Lynn Bensy G2G6 Mach 2 (20.6k points)
I'm sorry what happened to your cousin. He sounds like a really good, interesting person. Obviously a dedicated farmer because to them there was absolutely nothing more important than getting the crops in. Often, for our ancestors, it was a matter of life or death. I like the name of Deanie's home. When we used to live in Alabama, we had lots of oak trees on our property and my husband called his business "Five Oaks" because of the five largest ones.
+10 votes

Everyone seems to have a green thumb except me. Details here: https://arlhaverhill.blogspot.com/2019/05/52-ancestors-week-20-nature.html

My parents, both grandfathers and great-grandparents have been great at gardening! The 2019 Ferraiolo garden has yet to be planted because of the bad weather here in New Hampshire. Seriously, we had like two sunny days this month and it's MID MAY.

At least I am decent at growing potatoes. Those don't take much skill. Check the blog for details!

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (403k points)
edited by Chris Ferraiolo
LOL, Chris--I can relate! The gardening gene definitely skipped a generation with me.
+10 votes
Mine is the first in at least 5 generations to have never lived on a farm, but I've visited many of them. I have good memories of visiting my great uncle, Earl Miell and his family on their farm in Linn County, Iowa and nearby, his brother, Keith Miell, had a lovely home on his farm. As young children, my cousin and I would explore the barns and pet the horses, hold kittens, and chase chickens. For a couple of kids from Chicago, our visits were like visiting a zoo or a foreign land and we always had a wonderful time.
by Traci Thiessen G2G6 Pilot (158k points)
I, too, grew up in the city, but my grandparents on my daddy's side farmed. You're right, what was labor to them was an amazing adventure to us.
+10 votes

My early New England and my upstate New York ancestors were mostly farmers. You frequently don't know they were farmers, but they had land and tools and animals in their inventories. They planted and harvested in the seasons for that and did other things during the winter.

James Crowfoot - had a nature name. Crowfoot later took on other spellings and became Crofut.

He grew up in the town of Springfield Massachusetts, Springfield is certainly a name that invokes nature. It's not rural any more.

James' inventory indicates that he probably farmed and spent a lot of time outside.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
As I've done research I've come to know that so many of our ancestors were involved to some extent in producing some, if not all, the food their immediate family consumed. It's difficult for me to comprehend when all I have to do is run to the corner to get anything I want from any part of the world.
Absolutely, and farming is hard work. Ask my husband. He owns a dairy farm. 14 hour days, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for the last 50 years.
+10 votes

Both my 52 weeks posts this week are going to have to do with my great-grandfather Ernest Wintermute's or his family.  His maternal grandmother's maiden name was Forrest...and he had three older siblings named Forrest, Fern, and Fawn.  His name was Ernest, so the pattern was broken.

by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (125k points)
I wonder if his mother had even thought about a pattern? I suppose they were just like us and occasionally engaged in a little whimsy. In any case, Ernest is a nice serious name.
+11 votes
For this week's topic, "Nature", I'd like to share my paternal grandparents, Arthur and Edna Dodge. They both came from farming backgrounds, Arthur from Nebraska and Edna from Illinois. They met and married in California where they spent most of their years together farming or ranching. The period of time that stands out most in my mind is the time they spent in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California. This is the time when they were raising their children, and the children remembered that time vividly. They were growing up on a dairy farm. My grandfather rose early every day to milk the cows. He would then put the milk cans onto a horse pulled cart and go about the neighborhood delivering the milk. The children would spend their days, after their schoolwork was done, helping around the farm. My grandmother would take milk to the local schools for the students. She later started a school lunch program. At the time, early 1900s, this was a "new-fangled" idea, but it was successful. Unfortunately, the children must not have been too impressed with farm life because none of them continued in that way of life. But all of them loved the outdoors and nature, especially the mountains. And all of the following descendants have inherited that same love of nature.
by Robin Shaules G2G6 Pilot (894k points)
Robin, your grandmother was ahead of her time with implementing a school lunch program. My grandparents maintained a small dairy and truck farm, also, The stories you heard about their lives sound very much like the ones my daddy told me. People of previous generations worked hard to make ends meet and it required the involvement of the entire household. We have it so cushy now compared to then.
I agree with you completely. Though it was hard work to live back then, and they had much more limited leisure time, I think they built more character than many of us today have. I'm thankful for the values they had and taught.

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